Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Movie Review: The Dark Crystal (1982)

So last night I was forced to spend the night locked in a room with a very pissed off cat who wants nothing more than to be loved but is too afraid to let anyone touch it and thus is perfectly fine with being right next to strangers but hisses and strikes out if you make eye-contact with, reach out to, or mistakenly leave lingering body parts near it.

Hence, I finally got some time to dig into my long to-watch list on Netflix and stumbled upon The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal (DC from here on out) was released in 1982 and was made by the same guys who  created the Muppets. DC is also filled similarly with live-action shots of puppets on creative sets and, altogether, was a very unique experience. Lo and behold, it even seems to have a tiny yet devout cult following. If you're one of those people, don't ask me how I never saw this film until 2015. Maybe it's because I wasn't born until 1987 and my parents weren't Muppet fans.

Anyway, I saw instantly in DC the clash of two things that almost always results in an amazing film: Classic Storyline + Unique World.

Classic Storyline: The story follows a young male hero named Jen who is decidedly on the Good (Mystics) people's side. Nearly all his people have been wiped out by the Bad people (Skeksis) who are decidedly bad with no intentions of being good even in the slightest. There is a prophecy (of course!) which says that Jen will unite the world and make everything better again. Along the way, Jen finds his one-true soulmate, the other last remaining member of his race, and the two fall in love and both come out alive at the end after defeating all evil.

I'm talking the epitome of classic here for fantasy.

Unique World: DC had a truly stunning unique world full of all kinds of different creatures and detailed settings that felt both larger than life and touching observant. Hardly anything was left to the imagination, filling every scene with like a moving picture from a true alternate world that could be felt and seen as if it were real. Amazing work, I have to say, and one can almost feel the love and care in all the details. The people who made this film really loved their jobs and wanted so badly to pour all their creativity into this film's world.

Those two things, if performed well, always result in an amazing film. Avatar was this exact same way: predictable-as-shit plotline but a truly stunning and detailed world.

But when all is said and done, I'm not sure if I'd recommend this film to anyone except those looking for such a thing. I didn't finish this film and rush to my wife saying, "Babe! Babe! You gotta see this!" I wouldn't call my friends up either. I don't even think I'll keep this movie in my memory long enough to remember it when I have my own children. There was no strong message, nor particularly memorable characters. The dialogue was dry and seemed bare-bones. I feel this film has faded in time for the same reason Avatar did:

Watching this movie is like watching a moving painting. It's stunning, gorgeous, and beautiful in its detail. It makes you watch every scene with lips parted, taking in the lovely scenes that seemed handcrafted with care and ambition. However, at the end of the day, it's just a painting and not a story. And a movie without a great story isn't much to brag about.

Still though, 4 out of 5 stars for creativity. The Dark Crystal is truly unique.

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