ⓘ The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is an American fantasy web television series produced by Netflix and The Jim Henson Company. It is a prequel to the 1982 Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal that explores the world of Thra created for the original film. The series premiered on August 30, 2019, to critical acclaim.
As the Gelfling race on the planet Thra becomes aware of the fact that their customarily worshiped overlords, the Skeksis, are exploitative, taxing essence-suckers who are destroying their world, three Gelflings - Rian, Brea and Deet - inspire a rebellion after discovering a horrifying secret behind the Skeksis power that threatens their entire planet.
2.1. Cast Resistance
- Shazad Latif as Kylan: A song teller of the Spriton Clan
- Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Seladon: Eldest of the princess sisters of the Vapra Clan and one of Breas sisters
- Harris Dickinson as Gurjin: A member of the Drenchen Clan and Rians best friend
- Hannah John-Kamen as Naia: A member of the Drenchen Clan and Gurjins twin sister
- Taron Egerton as Rian: A Gelfling crystal castle guard of the Stonewood Clan
- Nathalie Emmanuel as Deet: Born Deethra; Gelfling animal caretaker of the Grottan Clan
- Donna Kimball as Aughra: The Keeper of Secrets, the embodiment of the planet Thra and an astronomer
- Victor Yerrid as Hup: A Podling who is a friend of Deet. He aspires to be a Paladin and carries a big wooden spoon like a sword
- Anya Taylor-Joy as Brea: The youngest Gelfling princess of the Vapra Clan
2.2. Cast Skeksis
- Mark Hamill as The Scientist skekTek: Once an old friend of Aughra, the Scientist is a maniacal genius who abuses the Dark Crystal for his evil experiments.
- Awkwafina as The Collector skekLach: A disease-infected Skeksis who collected tributes from the Gelfling clans.
- Harvey Fierstein as The Gourmand skekAyuk: The greedy and gluttonous organizer of the Skeksis banquets.
- Neil Sterenberg as The Scroll Keeper skekOk: The Crystal Castles historian who delights in lying to get his way.
- Simon Pegg as The Chamberlain skekSil: The Emperors chief advisor and second-in-line for the throne, a conniving and underhanded schemer who plans to become the Emperors favorite.
- Benedict Wong as The General skekVar: An aggressive and brutal Skeksis who was the most loyal to the Emperor.
- Jason Isaacs as The Emperor skekSo: The iron-fisted and cruel leader of the Skeksis and ruler of planet Thra.
- Keegan-Michael Key as The Ritual-Master skekZok: The pompous and gruff high priest of the Ceremony of the Sun.
- Alice Dinnean as The Ornamentalist skekEkt: The vain designer of the Skeksis garments.
2.3. Cast Gelfling
- Charlie Condou as Mitjan: A member of the Grottan Clan and one of Deets fathers.
- Alicia Vikander as Mira: A member of the Vapra Clan, a crystal castle guard and Rians girlfriend, she was the first victim of the Skekses experiment in extracting Gelfling essence.
- Toby Jones as The Librarian: A member of the Vapra Clan who works in the library of the Vapra Citadel
- Nimmy March as Maudra Laesid: Leader of the Drenchen Clan
- Louise Gold as Maudra Argot/The Shadow Bender: Leader of the Grottan Clan
- Dustin Demri Burns as Daudran: A member of the Vapra Clan who oversees the Order of Lesser Services.
- Nina Sosanya as Maudra Mera: Leader of the Spriton Clan
- Kemi-Bo Jacobs as Maudra Seethi/The Skin Painter: Leader of the Dousan Clan
- Helena Bonham Carter as Maudra Mayrin/The All-Maudra: Leader of the Vapra Clan, the queen and mother of Seladon, Tavra and Brea
- Natalie Dormer as Onica: A member of the Sifa Clan
- Caitriona Balfe as Tavra: Born Katavra, she is a warrior of the Vapra Clan and one of Breas sisters
- Henderson also voices BobbN: Deets brother and member of the Grottan Clan.
- Beccy Henderson as Maudra Ethri: Leader of the Sifa Clan
- Eddie Izzard as Cadia: A member of the Sifa Clan
- James Dreyfus as LathN: A member of the Grottan Clan and one of Deets fathers.
- Theo James as Rekyr: A member of the Dousan Clan
- Lena Headey as Maudra Fara/The Rock Singer: Leader of the Stonewood Clan
- Mark Strong as Ordon: A member of the Stonewood Clan, captain of the crystal castle guard, and Rians father
2.4. Cast Skeksis
- Andy Samberg as The Heretic skekGra: A moody and crazy, but good-hearted Skeksis. Formerly known as the Conqueror, he opposed his fellow Skeksis decisions and was forced into self-imposed exile to the Crystal Sea desert with his Mystic counterpart.
- Ralph Ineson as The Hunter skekMal: The wildest, fastest, strongest and most bloodthirsty of the Skeksis with retractable arms.
2.5. Cast urRu/Mystics
- Bill Hader as urGoh/The Wanderer: The slow-moving and slow-talking Mystic counterpart to skekGra/The Heretic who lives with his counterpart in the Crystal Sea desert.
- Olafur Darri Olafsson as urVa/The Archer: A heroic, benevolent, honourable and loyal Mystic who is the counterpart of skekMal/The Hunter.
2.6. Cast Others
- Theo Ogundipe as Vliste-Staba: The Sanctuary Tree
- Dave Goelz as Baffi: An eyepatch-wearing Fizzgig owned by Maudra Fara
- Sigourney Weaver as The Myth Speaker: the series narrator
- Kevin Clash and Neil Sterenberg as the Gruenaks: Two silenced slaves of The Scientist and survivors of their races genocide.
Additional voices by Warrick Brownlow-Pike, Dave Chapman, Stewart Clarke, Kevin Clash, Alice Dinnean, Barbara Drennan, Damian Farrell, Louise Gold, Beccy Henderson, Isabella Laughland, Omar Malik, Sarah Beck Mather, Jack Myers, Mark Restuccia, Irfan Samji, Helena Smee, Katherine Smee, Neil Sterenberg, Olly Taylor, and Victor Yerrid.
2.7. Cast Puppeteers
- Victor Yerrid as Podling Hup, Gelflings Kylan, Mitjan, Skeksis skekZok/The Ritual Master
- Olly Taylor as Gelflings Rekyr, Cadia, Daudran, Skeksis skekTek/The Scientist, Mystics urGoh/The Wanderer, urVa/The Archer
- Daniel Dewhirst as Garthim
- Helena Smee as Gelflings Seladon, Mira and Skeksis skekLach/The Collector
- Alice Dinnean as Gelflings Brea, Maudra Fara, BobbN, Skeksis skekEkt/The Ornamentalist
- Kevin Clash as Aughra, Skeksis skekVar/The General, skekMal/The Hunter, The Gelfling Librarian, Gruenak #1
- Barnaby Dixon as skekGra & urGoh puppet show performer
- Katherine Smee as Aughra, Gelfling Deet, Skeksis skekVar/The General, skekSil/The Chamberlain, Podling Hup
- Louise Gold as Gelflings Onica, Maudra Argot, Maudra Ethri, Maudra Mayrin, Skeksis skekAyuk/The Gourmand, Podling Servant #2
- Nick Kellington as Skeksis skekMal/The Hunter in-suit performer
- Dave Goelz as Fizzgig Baffi
- Neil Sterenberg as Gelflings Rian, Tavra, Skeksis skekOk/The Scroll Keeper, Gruenak #2
- Dave Chapman as Gelflings Gurjin, Ordon and Skeksis skekSo/The Emperor
- Beccy Henderson as Gelflings Deet, Naia, Maudra Seethi, Juni
- Damian Farrell as Skeksis skekGra/The Conqueror/The Heretic, Lore lead puppeteer
- Warrick Brownlow-Pike as Skeksis skekSil/The Chamberlain, Gelflings LathN, Maudra Laesid, Red-Haired Paladin, Podling servant 1
3.1. Production Pre-production
Initially conceived as a feature-length sequel to The Dark Crystal entitled The Power of the Dark Crystal, the project was for years in a state of development hell. In 2012, director Louis Leterrier expressed an interest in joining Jim Henson Productions in their project shortly after the release of Clash of the Titans, hoping to interest large studios, but was repeatedly turned down as, according to him, they were only interested in Transformers, and many executives had never heard of The Dark Crystal. It was during this impasse that Leterrier decided to shoot a prequel series rather than a film sequel because of the richness of material available in Jim Henson and Frank Ozs notes on the events leading up to the original film. Lisa Henson identified the "Wall of Destiny" from the original film as a "jumping point": "What was that culture? What was lost? What was that beautiful Gelfling civilization?" Jeff Addiss, Will Matthews and Javier Grillo Marxuach, all fans of The Dark Crystal, were subsequently hired as writers. The project was eventually sold to Netflix after Leterrier found a studio executive who shared the teams enthusiasm for the original film.
The production was pitched to Netflix as an animated prequel series. Upon hearing the idea, Vice President of Original Content Cindy Holland rewatched the film and asked about the possibility of doing the series in live-action, much to the Henson Companys surprise. A short test film, featuring a puppet Skeksis and a CGI Gelfling, was produced in 2016 to test potential improvements the series could have over the film. Ultimately, the test convinced the Henson Company and Netflix that the series needed puppet characters.
3.2. Production Development
In May 2017, it was announced that The Jim Henson Company, in association with Netflix, would produce a prequel to the film The Dark Crystal. The series, written by Jeffrey Addiss, Will Matthews, and Javier Grillo-Marxuach, began filming in the United Kingdom in November 2017 with Louis Leterrier serving as director.
At New York Comic Con in 2018, Leterrier insisted that the series would depend on puppetry and not CGI, except for the use of green screens to remove puppeteers. On December 17, 2018, the 36th anniversary of the original films release, the voice cast was revealed, as well as some images of the main Gelfling characters. On May 30, 2019, Netflix released a teaser trailer and poster for the series, announcing its official release date on August 30, 2019. Additional voice actors were announced on June 26, including Awkwafina, Lena Headey, Hannah John-Kamen, Sigourney Weaver and Benedict Wong. It was released August 30, 2019.
3.3. Production Design
The puppets were fabricated in early 2017 in Jim Hensons Creature Shop in Los Angeles, then exported to Langley Studios just outside London, with The Muppets veteran Dave Goelz and The Dark Crystal s concept artist Brian Froud participating in performing and designing the characters. Aside from Frouds new sketches, the original films tie-in book, The World of the Dark Crystal, was used as a reference point. Other sources of inspiration in building the world of Thra included Game of Thrones and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
According to Toby Froud, the show makes use of 20 principal puppets, with an additional 90 for secondary roles. Unlike the original film, the Gelfling puppets require only two puppeteers, as opposed to four in The Dark Crystal, thus permitting greater freedom of movement. Also, while the animatronic components of the original films Gelfling puppets were controlled via cables, the mechanical parts of the new Gelflings were remotely operated via a modified Wii controller.
On May 30, 2019, the first teaser trailer for the series was released and received a generally favorable response with Tasha Robinson, writing for The Verge, writing, "whats most compelling about this trailer, though, is the stunning fidelity to the original film".
5.1. Reception Critical response
The series has gained universal acclaim. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an 88% "certified fresh" rating with an average score of 8.6/10, based on 75 reviews. The websites critical consensus reads, "An epic fantasy adventure that will please old and new fans alike, Age of Resistance expertly builds on the lore of The Dark Crystal, crafting compelling new mythos without losing sight of the humanity at the storys heart." On Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
In a positive review for RogerEbert.com, critic Matt Fagerholm referred to the series as "quite simply, one of the all-time great fantasy epics, as well as the masterwork of puppetry most closely aligned with Jim Henson’s humanistic philosophy since his son Brian helmed 1992’s holiday perennial, The Muppet Christmas Carol." Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture similarly praised the series, saying: Age of Resistance is like an immense, ten-hour magic show, engrossing down to the very last wondrous detail. This is an altogether staggering artistic achievement, and a joyful continuation of the Henson tradition."
In a mostly positive review, Keith Phipps of TV Guide stated that Age of Resistance is, in many respects, an extraordinary accomplishment. Which isnt to say it doesnt run into some problems along the way." In a more mixed review for The Daily Telegraph, Ed Power wrote, "There are real pleasures to be had watching beautiful puppets running, kissing and poking each others eyes out. But the Dark Crystal is in such a hurry to create a splash it plunges off the deep end too soon."
6. Video game
During a Nintendo Direct at E3 2019, it was announced that a video game based on the Netflix series, called The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, was in development by BonusXP and En Masse Entertainment. The game was released on February 4, 2020 for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, and macOS.
On September 2, 2019, IndieWire reported that Addiss and Matthews were interested in and prepared for a possible second season: in an interview, Matthews said, "If we are lucky enough to get more seasons then the story will go on and we know where its going and its maybe more hopeful than you might think," with Addiss noting, "We also have a concrete document for season two. So we are ready to go."
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