The Dark Crystal (1982) Poster

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A Dream
winstonsmith_8423 December 2000
This movie is like an odd, but wonderful dream. It takes place in a fantasy world, created by the talented duo, Frank Oz and Jim Henson. Everything in this film is so meticulously done, that it still lives on to this day. Computer effects be damned. This film has texture, and it is pleasing to watch. This movie, as you will see, was made for kids. But really, it is a masterpiece in film-making. True, good, story-telling. Sure, kids will love it, but the film isn't really aimed at them like most kid movies are. It is complicated, eerie, beautiful, and intelligent... most of all, mystical. I reccomend this to anyone seriously interested in film, especially fantasy... not to be missed!
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Still a great fantasy tale
David Beoulve27 April 2002
The Dark Crystal holds well against the test of time. It has been only recently that movies that take place in a completely different fantasy world ("The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring") have become more feasible. Still, the Dark Crystal stands as an excellent tale of good versus evil.

Jim Henson and crew spent much to much time creating this movie, and the depth of their effort shows. However, some adults might find the story simplistic, and it is in the same manner that Labyrinth is. However, like Labyrinth, Dark Crystal succeeds in taking you to another place and immersing you in another world.

If you are a viewer interested in fantasy worlds, Dark Crystal will please you well. If you haven't seen it in years, get the DVD. It has a wonderful "making of" section, deleted funeral scenes, and isolated musical score.
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The beginning of the new and improved Muppets; one of Henson-and-company's best
MisterWhiplash15 September 2000
This sprawling, part-homage-part-totally original fantasy brings us Jen, the last of a group of near extinct creatures who is the only one who can save all existence by bringing a crystal shard back into the balance of the dark crystal, in order to save the world from the evil Skekses. This is quite an enthralling film, and like with the other full-on Muppet films this works on different levels for kids and for adults. Kids may be both scared and enthralled by the scope and details, not to mention the graphic nature of the darker elements portrayed (as a kid I cringed a bit when the 'vital essence' scenes came up). And for adults there's a lot of great craftsmanship that goes into the story, which is with all of the effects and over-the-top creations very well told by directors Henson and Oz. Without the massive usage of CGI or the more controlled visuals from the past fifteen or so years, the mix of the production design (maybe some of the best ever in any fantasy film) and the inventiveness put into the set-pieces and character-creations, is a knockout even by today's standards. It's almost a shame looking back on how a film like this that employs so many people and such time is now spent clicking away on a computer to get it all done. As it is, the Dark Crystal is one of those few examples in post-modern cinema that it does seem something like a sci-fi novel come to life.
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Loved this movie for many ages....
Angel Meiru21 January 2004
Though I love the Muppets and other works of Jim Henson, I still say for years since my birth in 1982, The Dark Crystal has always grown on me. From interesting characters to surreal environments, this movie will capture the eyes of the imaginative and Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans. Though it may move slow at times, but it does not bother me. It gets me more into the world of the Dark Crystal, named Thyra.

It was also good for it's symbolism as well. The Dark Crystal like many classic children's shows and movies of its time did not talk down to kids nor underestimate their intelligence for that matter. In fact, the morals and symbolism appeals to non-discriminating adults as well.

P.S. I think the Skeksis are awesome! Especially the General, Chamberlain and the Mad Scientist Skeksis!
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An awesome fantasy film from Jim Henson
This is an awesome fantasy film from The Muppets' very own Jim Henson. The film has an essence of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the ever popular "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. I thought it's an amazing planet/world with such fascinating creatures and places too. My favorite Dark Crystal creature is the Gelfling like Jen & Kira, who are also my favorite characters from the film - they are so adorable.

I must comment on Brian Froud for his conceptual art for each race in the film. And also Trevor Jones' excellent music score too. Very good job, guys, you are AWESOME! My favorite scenes are when Jen visits Aughra to retrieve the crystal shard, and also when he meets Kira his main squeeze (*giggles*). I also love the scene when Jen & Kira are at the old Gelfling ruins.
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A major accomplishment!
Shawn Watson1 October 2006
It took an infinity of imagination to make The Dark Crystal, a film so overflowing with invention that you literally have to watch it about 100 times just to take it all in. Everyone involved, from the director to the best boy gave the film such loving affection and made it the best it could possibly be. Kid's movies (if you want to call it that) these days simply are not what they used to be and probably never will be again. This is yet another thing that makes The Dark Crystal so damn precious.

The film is set in another world, in another time in an age of wonder. It has been 999 years and 1 year since the powerful, life-giving crystal cracked and stopping shining. Since then the land has become barren and the Urskeks (a race of God-like beings) have split into two separate races, the peaceful Uru 'Mystics' and the evil Skeksis-a horrific cross between bird and reptile. The three suns that shine upon the land are about to line up in a great conjunction that only happens once every 1000 years. If the crystal is not repaired before then the cruel Skeksis will rule the land forever.

Jen is a Gelfling (a sort of fairy creature), believed to be the last of his race. A prophecy tells of a single Gelfling defeating the Skeksis and restoring peace to the land. Raised by the Uru, Jen begins a journey to repair the crystal when the Skeksis Emperor dies (in a truly disturbing scene). On his way he meets Aughra, a sort of witch creature and Kira, another Gelfling and her race of Podling people (sort of like Fraggles). Though there is no specific love scene between them, there is a very nice romance developing through-out the story.

Filmed in gorgeous locations across England and Scotland (with the use of a lot of matte paintings of course) the film really, really does take you to another world. There's not a single human in sight (a perfect world or what) and, with exception to the awful Skeksis, almost every creature is cute and fluffy (such as Kira's Fizzgig). The production design, in particular the genius contributions by Brian Froud, is so immense and impressive that you wish you could jump through the screen and actually be there in order to appreciate it more.

Trevor Jones' breathtaking, beautiful score is among his best work (tying with Merlin in 1998) and is surely some of the best film music you are ever likely to hear. Ever! There was a limited edition of the score put on CD a few years ago but only 5000 were ever printed. It's sure to be quite expensive now but it's so goddamn worth it! Henson, Oz and Froud teamed up again a few years later to make Labyrinth which seems to be more fondly remembered as it's not as sinister as The Dark Crystal and has human actors in it to make it more accessible to those with narrower minds. I prefer this one though (no fruity songs, no David Bowie!) as it has a certain edge to it that Labyrinth lacks.

An epic. A masterpiece. An unforgettable classic. The Dark Crystal is magical, mystical timeless classic. I can't recommend it enough. If only we still had movies like this. I'll take risk-taking The Dark Crystal over PC drek like The Shaggy Dog any day.
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A very imaginative tale that's easy to love.
Zan-tastic12 October 2005
"Another world. Another time. In the Age of Wonder." So begins the classic fantasy story that is The Dark Crystal, Henson's best and, to date, only all-creature film. My father bought this movie for me the day I was born, so I quite literally grew up watching it. It's a story that never gets old. The characters are unforgettable, with a wonderful musical score that sticks in the head. Jen, the main character, finds that he is ordained to fulfill a prophecy finally revealed to him by his master, the wisest of the Mystics. A single crystal shard was lost long ago, and must be recovered before the three suns align in the sky. But Jen must first find the shard, and then figure out what to do with it once he has it, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of the cruel Skeksis. And time is running out. The thing that I think makes this movie so memorable is the fact that it is so unlike other fantasy films. It exists in a world all its own, with new creatures and characters you don't find in other films. If looking for a companion to the film, I recommend the book of the same name. It goes into more detail about the world of Thra, and I feel it greatly enhances the immersion into the film. I recommend this film to any fantasy fan who has not seen it, and if you have seen it, I find it worth seeing again.
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Only for us.
sibelian14 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It's difficult to see how a film like this could ever have mass popularity. It's melodramatic, poorly scripted, mechanically plotted and hasn't got any people in it.

But I *love* it.

This is a dark, ponderous, elegant, film. The emotional tones are murky, sometimes quiet, sometimes startlingly loud, always alien and dreamlike and only ever vaguely comprehensible. The design is just drop-dead gorgeous, and entire alien WORLD brought to life. It's mesmerising, and more details can be found buried deep within it on every viewing. Thick layers of meaning were woven into this movie, revealed only when reading the accompanying coffee-table book, which records in a painstaking watchmaker's manner every tiny bit of "iceberg" under the surface of this story.

There ought to be a word for the feelings aroused by this film, a word that means "alien yet hauntingly familiar". I still get the same dreamy mood as I did when I first saw this film many years ago when this movie begins, the first crash of the cymbal and the first recital of the theme of the Skekses sounding as if from terribly far away, a high, yearning phrase on a single horn, lonely and beautiful, calling from another time. The Age of Wonder.

It's what this film's all about, Wonder. There's no explaining it to people who don't like that sort of right-brain thing, they just won't like it.

Why does it make sense that staring into the reflection of a cracked crystal from deep within the bowels of a tortured castle will, with the aid of some ugly machinery, suck out your very soul? That the Trial Stone glows when it's cleaved completely in two by the General? That the shard responds to the notes of Jen's pipe? It doesn't, of course, but it DOES.

I also love the pace and the mechanical plot. This is the one film whose mechanical plot I must forgive, and even love, as it's supposed to be mechanical. The sand painting diagram at the beginning of the movie is a representation of the history of the entire world, including the events to come. The whole world is one huge piece of metaphysical clockwork, and so the film is as well, the tension building clearly and slowly towards the extraordinary climax, which still gives me the shivers... Prophecies are stupid things to have in films, except this film, in which the prophecy is the entire point of the movie instead of an unnecessary condiment. The slow machinery of this movie lends a great weight to it, the feeling that vast, invisible forces are at work intensifies pace by implacable Mystic pace...

I also approve of the ending's inherent mysticism, taken straight from Jung, the key to transcendence being the joining of the Ego with the Shadow, the Skekses and Mystics representing these structures respectively. It's true, and this film says so, pretty much in so many words.

It's not at all surprising that it's not very popular with people who don't particularly buy into the things I've outlined above. It's geologically slow. It's inhuman. It's VERY weird. But it does all these things *deliberately* with an artistry rarely seen these days.

And I just love the music...
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TOLKIEN would love this movie !
Luis Filipe dos Reis Peres9 September 1999
This must be, along with KRULL, one of the most forgotten fantasy movies ever ! I´ve been searching for a VHS copy of DARK CRYSTAL, for years now ! Nobody seems to have ever released this on tape !

WHY, is this movie so hard to find ?!! I´m fortunate enough to have a copy of it, but it isn´t a very good copy at all, because it was taped about 10 years ago, from a movie channel, and it´s got tons and tons of satelite interferences and "rain" in the image. At least i get to own the movie. I guess...

The first time i´ve seen anything about DARK CRYSTAL, was back in 1982 when i was 12 years old. I wento to see Spielberg´s - ET, and before it, the presentation movie trailer for DARK CRYSTAL came on the screen. I remember that i was much more impressed by it, than by ET. By the end, all i wanted to know was when DARK CRYSTAL would be on the theater. I was so impressed by it, that those 2 minutes from the presentation stayed in my mind ever since, and all that i remember from the day i went to see ET, was that i watched 2 minutes of something that i never thought it existed or would be possible. Remember it was 1982, and in those days, children´s programs on tv didn´t included the amount of fantasy stuff that it is showned today, so watching that was somehow a revelation for me.

Anyway 6 year later i got to finaly see it, on a forgotten childrens matinee, and i loved every minute of it, altough i felt even then that it had some dull parts in it. Somehow there is something diferent with the pace this story is told. Even now i feel this, each time i watch DARK CRYSTAL.

But this is just a minor thing. Maybe i´m being just picky. Because DARK CRYSTAL is a masterpiece, it might have its flaws, but that doesn´t prevent it from being one of the greatest fantasy movies ever. Even though is so forgotten by everyone. Even i forget i have it. In a way, this is an Historical movie, because to my knowledge this was the first time that the atmosphere from the now common fantasy novels was portraited in a movie. And what a begining !!! Jim Henson got it right, right at the first try !

Every time i watch this i only wished he had lived enough time to adapt TOLKIEN´s - LORD OF THE RINGS to the movies. He would make a fantastic job for sure.

With DARK CRYSTAL ,Jim Henson achieved a perfect balance between a kids movie and a fantasy movie for adult viewers. This only added credibility to the world he created for this story. Just for this alone he should be praised. He showed the way, a fantasy movie should be made, but nobody in Hollywood seem to have learned anything from it.

I have read that DARK CRYSTAL, was a comercial flop, because it was released during the ET days, and not many people went to see it. Wich is a sad thing, because a masterpiece like this deserved to have filled the theaters. Maybe adults thought it was just for kids and the kids wanted to see ET, so it flopped. I read that even american reviews attacked DARK CRYSTAL. Maybe it was the usual in america, when a movie can´t be put in a category, nobody makes many efforts to publicize it. And i bet this was a nightmare to some people who had to publicize it. How would they present it ?

So if, you can find it, you have to see this movie ! I f you like fantasy, you´ll go nuts with it. Only the landscapes are enough to make anyone drool. The story is very,very good and much more adult oriented than it might seem at first, the pecial effects are pefect for it, the soundtrack is excelent, and the characters are very lifelike and believable. I only don´t like very much of the hero, it feels to much like a pupet. Compared to the others is a bit strange.

It´s time DARK CRYSTAL gets the atention it desrerves, this is a brilliant movie.
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The best,wierdest Muppet I have ever seen!!!
belle19824 March 1999
I saw "The Dark Crystal" on TV when I was 5 years old on TV, that cool flick by the late Jim Henson came out in 1982 when I was a baby. I saw this movie again two years ago when at the age of 15 on video, I like about "The Dark Crystal" because it is dark, weird, and very scary (including the evil characters) this movie shouldn't be recommended for little kiddies who like the Muppets. And for the first time in the Muppet movie they show the lead character Kira cut the ugly monster's finger and it was bleeding and a old woman's eyeball falls out, etc. THIS MOVIE IS COOL TO WATCH! and how Jim Henson have this good idea to make this fantasy movie. "Dark Crystal" is like a cult favorite to me since the first time I watched it when I was a kid and should be recommended to watch if people who want to see a wierd fantastic Muppet movie and this movie is made from England like the other Muppet movies that the Jim Henson Workshop did. Anyway this movie rules and the Muppets!
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The Dark Crystal: Tremendous fantasy
latsblaster4 December 2005
So what is this old stuff about? What's the hype? Jim Henson's project lasted for years. Together with the help of Frank Oz and Gary Kurtz, this magnificent film was created.

This is one of the very best fantasy films ever.

I cannot think of another film with more interesting effects than this one. This is not just working, it is a pleasure to see it work. You have all this living creatures, that wonderful nature, that realistic but yet fantastic mood.

The writing seem to be minimalistic, and is heavily compensated with all the beautiful elements in the picture. Fantastic landscapes, mystic creatures and a great mix of colors all over the screen, though the film remains minimalistic.

Terry Jones music contributes with a lot of emotions and mood, maybe one of my favorite-soundtracks.

Much more can be said about the film. Most of it should be good things. It is a pity that some seems to unlike with, whatever the reasons are. I highly recommend it for any lover of the cinema.

Rating: 10 of 10.
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If only Jim were still with us...what magic he'd make!
Phil_H25 April 1999
When this movie first came out (1982) I was 13 years old, and remember seeing it in the theatre with friends. I loved it then and love it now. It remains one of the best fantasy films of all time, but only because of the sheer effort given to it by the Henson company; only he could have made this all work. His genius is timeless. If only he were still alive now to make more films like this (and better!)

Our world is a dimmer place without Jim Henson.
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If you are not frightened by this, then you must be dead.
thescientist-14 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have to begin this review with a warning to anyone planning to watch this film: 'The Dark Crystal' is one of the scariest films you will ever see. It is only equalled by 'The Ring' and possibly 'The Grudge'. The entire film has a dark, unsettling atmosphere about it; there's not one character that you won't be terrified of. The benign beings that have raised our Gelfling hero, the mystics, are frightening enough, but once you get to see the evil skeksis, you won't be able to sleep for a week. These hideous creatures are the most accurate portrayal of humanity's vision of evil ever brought to life on the screen. Their twisted and creepily humanoid bodies are reminiscent of vultures, their eyes cruel and black. Their dwelling is a castle that appears to be as dark and rotten as the skeksis themselves. Any scenes involving these terrible beasts strike a deep primal fear into the viewer, those featuring their carnivorous and possibly cannibalistic eating habits more than any.

I would like to comment more on the plot, but I was too busy waiting in terror for the next horrific creature to take much notice. From what I could gather, it was a fairly typical fantasy story of good and evil. What makes the film stand out from the norm is the fact that both the skeksis and the mystics were once as one, all powerful beings of great wisdom and benevolence. This is an obvious yet stunningly powerful metaphor for the eternal battle between good and evil in the human conscience. The immense evil of the skeksis is so brilliantly portrayed that it affects the viewer in an unforgettable way.

The film deserves a high score just for the fear it strikes into the heart of its audience. It is one of the most effectively scary films ever made, and the shadows of those horrific skeksis will haunt you for many dark nights to follow. I give 'The Dark Crystal' a 9.
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Wow whenever I see a fantasy movie I feel visually stunned. Whenever I see one I have to feel happy and scared at the same time. Granted Fantasy films haven't received great merit, but there are few that do. Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter,.... these all contain elements conjured up brilliantly. In the 80s it became relevant that Fantasy films became a craze with Labyrinth, NeverEnding Story, Legend, etc. And all of these were great.

Whenever I associate Jim Henson I associate him with innovation to the genre he did direct two great Fantasy films in the decade. I say they were both great. Labyrinth wasn't as visually stunning as Dark Crystal had been.

The first I gazed on this movie I was awed the next time I saw it I said "Dang". This movie continued to be good in motion picture artistry.

Jim Henson was successful in conjuring up good movie magic with characters that were designed greatly. I liked this movie because at the end I screamed, "This is Fantasy!!!!!"

Made me feel like I was in another mystical world.

I give it a 10!
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I beg to differ with you hotoil
gikon00120 August 2006
As Far as the dark crystal is concerned i'm not sure if u actually watched the same movie or not, First of all as far as Character development the entire world of the dark crystal was to be the main character not just jen... jen was a small part in the entire journey... represented by the premise that everything in the dark crystal was inner connected. I watched this movie as child when it first came out and i watch it still today, by no means at either time did i find it to be boring or "scary" or too dark.... as far as spectacular special effects , i dunno if u realize this or not but it was all done without cgi which in and of itself is a small miracle.

So in closeing i would recommend this movie to any family lookin for a fun ride and a great story.
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The fate of a world is in the balance as good & evil battle.
jjponta31 October 2001
The fate of a world hangs in the balance as good and evil struggle to gain supremacy. A millennium ago, the Dark Crystal was damaged, a fragment lost, and the world was sundered. Evil has ruled for a thousand years and now the time of a great conjunction of three suns draws near. The forces of good and evil are once again contesting to see which of them will gain supremacy over the other. If the crystal is not healed before the three suns align, evil will dominate forever. Both forces are so equally matched that the balance will be decided by the actions of Jen, the last of the gentle Gelfings. Jen must journey across his world to find the missing shard of crystal. Can he find the key to healing the crystal? This is storytelling at its best, with a world created by Jim Henson that is so astonishing in its depth and complexity you will want to watch it again and again to revel in the glorious details. A great movie for the whole family.
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Different viewing it now, but still appreciate the sheer mastery of the puppet creatures that inhabit the world of 'The Dark Crystal'
the amorphousmachine2 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
(MINOR SPOILERS) I have probably seen 'The Dark Crystal' four or five times, and I recently saw it less than a week ago. I do have some discrepancies with the film as an adult, but I'll get to that later! Since last week, I probably hadn't seen 'The Dark Crystal' since I was ten, but I remember that it was a childhood favourite of mine! I always dug The Chamberlain, with his whimper, as the main nemesis (if you could call him that). He was the real antagonist of the film. Forget about The General- he was just a bloated drooling mess, The Chamberlain was cooler! 'The Dark Crystal' was a lot more magical and enchanting when I was younger, and it really drew me into its world.

If you haven't seen 'The Dark Crystal', then basically the story is set on an alternate universe where peace was shattered one thousand years ago by the fragmentation of a white crystal. It created two races from a pure one; the good gentle Mystics, and the evil reptile-like Skeksis! Only ten of each race exists presently, and each one has a corresponding other in the opposing race! This world has a prophecy, where a small elf human-like creature called the Gelf-ling will mend the now Dark Crystal! The Skeksis wipe out all the Gelf-ling, except one called Jen, who is protected by the Mystics. Anyway, Jen is our hero, and he must go on a quest to find the lost shard, and repair the crystals before the three sons eclipse. Along the way there is a few surprises, as Jen find out more about his race and himself, as well as the Skeksis's attempts to thwart him.

You get the general idea.

When I was younger, I guess I was so wowed by the world that was created; I really didn't pay attention to how simplistic the story really is. In my recent viewing, I was very aware of the contrived nature of the story and script. Jen was really going through the motions, and everything does seem to fall easily into place (i.e. Kira's wings, the calling of the Land Striders), and it seems to go to too fast. 'The Dark Crystal' really doesn't seem epic enough, and you'd think Jen would have been better prepared for the endeavour, from day one by his Master. But no, his Master tells at the very last minute before he bites the big one. Jen's thoughts are used as the narrative, and for the most part, that works, especially during a clever sequence that displays Jen's and Kira's histories through mind melding! Convenient but cleverly done, and even now, I liked that moment a lot. However, to me, 'The Dark Crystal' seems to really lack a good nemesis, as The Chamberlain's motives are simply to get into the Skeksis's favour, and The General is more concerned about eating than doing any major evil acts!

I remember The Slave Master draining the Podling of its essence, and finding that scene quite scary when I was younger. Now, I was more aware of how the Podlings closely resembled Jim Henson's Muppets (especially during their first appearance). Also, now, I noticed the stilts for the Land Striders! I don't know if I noticed the technical presence of the Land Strider in earlier viewings, but it seemed obvious now how they did it (and that was before I watched the making-of too!). Still, I did think the incest bug creatures were awesomely effective even by today's standards, and they certainly sent shivers down my spine on my first viewing! Regardless, of the issues I have with the story now, or with being able to see some of the techniques in how it was done easier, I still can't get past the sheer genius of Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The puppets are simply superb creations for its time and the art direction brings the viewer into another world. While a film like 'Lord of the Rings' uses its "world" as a backdrop to the complexities of the story and characters, 'The Dark Crystal' draws you into its universe by showing you what its "world" is made up of- a perfect example of this, is the dissolves shots of the very alive jungle before Jen meets Kira! Things are happening in that Jungle that gives the viewer an idea of the creatures that inhabit that world- even if they aren't relevant to the story! 'The Dark Crystal' works as simple fantasy and escapist fare, and while the story and characters may not be as complex as 'Star Wars' or 'Lord of the Rings', it must be noted that this entirely puppet orientated film is smaller in narrative scope and not as epic considering its only one film, and not three films. 'The Dark Crystal's' scope belongs in the world we see on screen, and the creatures that inhabit it! For a stand-alone film, I think 'The Dark Crystal' holds up even now, if not for the sheer effort into creating these puppets and bringing them into life convincingly.

Personally, 'The Dark Crystal' will always hold a special place for me, considering I thought highly of it when I was younger. Don't get me wrong, I still preferred 'Star Wars' as the pinnacle back then, but 'The Dark Crystal' was always unique in my mind, both visually, and in its creature f/x! One thing is certain, Jim Henson and Frank Oz had created a memorable film with a sense of aura about it. As well as 'Labyrinth' and many of the famous Muppets that have become icons, 'The Dark Crystal' will always be one of the unique and treasured film contributions from Jim Henson's legacy! And for my two cents, 'The Dark Crystal' is a great film for the kids and adults alike! **** out of *****!
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Not at all impressed
TheDoomSong5 February 2008
I'm really not fond of this movie. I watched it as a ten year old and i didn't like it then. Now I'm 24 and tonight i've watched it again and I still don't like it, except now I know why. Believe me, I am not the kinda guy that goes, *blergh* puppets, it's for children, or who does not appreciate visual artwork or a good fantasy story. I am a big fan of Labyrinth, which (obviously) shares visual components to The Dark Crystal. But unlike this one Labyrinth was witty, full of funny and interesting characters and plenty of good dialogue. Something that (imho) The Dark Crystal lacks completely. For a good part of the movie the dialogue seems made up on the spot, often you just hear grunts, howls or something similar. I understand that the movie is mainly about its visuals, but that does not justify the obvious lack of story and dialogue, which, when happening, is often very very flat and boring. A script suitable for minors (I'm thinking primary school) turned into a film for age 12+, for there are some scary characters in it i wouldn't want my (little) kid to watch. Oh, one other thing: I thought the Gelfling looked and sounded incredibly moronic. On the good side: The music by Trevor Jones is pretty awesome.
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meh ... muppet mania
m00ser4 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Reading all the comments here I have only seen very few who dared to criticise this "brilliant masterpiece and epic story about the battle of good against evil".

So I'll try to point out the positive side of this movie first. It's the puppetry that makes this movie worth a look. Jim Henson created a whole world here, and everything from the actors and the animals down to the smallest critters and plants are fluffy animated puppets. My favourite was the dog creature, although or maybe just because it was a rip off of Animal from the Muppet Show. Oh, and the Mystics are cute, too.

Now on the flip side, the story was just shallow. The evil is truly evil and repugnant in every way and the good Mystics are a dying race of indigenous shamans. Very new agey. The black and white moral here made me angry actually. A main character who lacks any depth gets sent on a mission to repair the dark crystal and **SPOILERS** succeeds in doing so. No character development or twist whatsoever. Hey, a film can have levels and still be understood by children.

The simpleness of the story and the beauty of animation makes it in fact ideal for small children to watch BUT I can see how some of the scenes are very scary. Getting your life energy sucked out? Stabbing? A horse-bunny eaten by gargantuan roaches? I wouldn't recommend Dark Crystal for children under 5. Children older than 14 might find it boring again. (Obviously some don't as the rave reviews here on the board suggest)
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Bland but beautiful
gunkulator14 July 2009
I've seen The Dark Crystal twice now. Once when I was a kid and now as an adult. I remember being frightened by the essence draining scene as a kid but except for that not much to do with the film ever stuck in my mind.

With a more critical adult eye, the problems with this film are sadly obvious. Start right off the bat with about three minutes of exposition droning on and on about the crystal, the Skeksis and the Mystics. This is a movie, not a book. Show me, don't tell me.

The color palette seems borrowed from Star Trek The Motion Picture: bland pastels and khakis as far as the eye can see except for the bad guys who are all black from top to bottom so as to be indistinct and muddy looking. That being said, a lot of effort went into making the landscape seem alien and in that area the film makers succeeded greatly.

The story is strictly by the numbers. Small but doughty innocent must take the ring to Mount Doom to get rid of Sauron, no wait, I mean he must take the crystal shard to the evil castle to get rid of the Skeksis. Along the way he meets strange and wonderful, sometimes dangerous creatures and also picks up a sidekick. Been there. Done that.

Character development is non-existent, although that is fairly common in this genre. The main characters are particularly dull and without nuance. The bad guys are all bad and nearly indistinguishable. The counterpart good guys have zero personality. With little to no information about character backgrounds, there's no real motivations here and as such it's just plain hard to care about anybody. Again this isn't a fatal flaw, it's just too bad that the guy who created Kermit, Miss Piggy and Big Bird couldn't be bothered with injecting some actual character traits into his characters.

I must say that the puppetry in this movie is simply amazing - the best I've ever seen. That's both the movie's saving grace and its fatal flaw. While the puppeteers certainly push the envelope, it's painfully obvious that the envelope is ultimately too constricting. Simply put: the limitations on what one can do with puppets get in the way making the movie work in a believable fashion. The classic problem with any puppet is its hands. Puppet hands can't pick up, grasp or manipulate anything in a realistic way. And that's too bad because it detracts from what actions are possible for the characters. The screen writer and director must always work around this limitation. The most obvious example of this is the big evil insect creatures. Their pincers seem clumsy and fake, not menacing like they should. Still, I must admit that great strides were made to overcome these problems, but in the end I don't think the film makers succeeded in overcoming enough.

And that leads to my last issue. Seeing the movie again, it's obvious that The Dark Crystal didn't age too well. What may have been pretty neat special effects and cool puppet tricks back in 1982 are decidedly ho-hum now in this age of CGI wonders. I'm left wondering why one would bother to expend so much effort to make a puppet world look real. It's akin to trying to breed the fastest horse for transportation in an age when even the cheapest automobile will always be faster. I admire the effort spent, I just question the wisdom of it.
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kintopf43210 August 2006
Brilliant, woefully under-appreciated masterpiece. Even hardcore Henson fans seem to prefer the chaotic, tone-deaf disaster "Labyrinth" to this, and I've never understood why. "The Dark Crystal" would seem to be the perfect fantasy film – it's often criticized for being inaccessible and remote from humanity (many writers seem simply baffled by it), but to me, the otherworldiness, so carefully wrought and sustained (the film never breaks character, even in its Muppetier moments), is a huge part of the appeal. Henson and his production team have created a unique, self-contained, utterly believable new world, and most surprisingly they have the artistic backbone to take it seriously. (Considering that much of today's entertainment for children consists of sitcom stars playing animated versions of themselves, this is very important.) The distinct subcultures are painted in broad strokes – though not a work of science fiction, the film shares a perhaps simplistic sensibility with many sci-fi works of the time, sending up the western model of life and praising the eastern – but they have to be, considering how much territory it sets out to cover in just 93 minutes. It's amazing how fully the various races come to life before our eyes, from the quasi-Buddhist Mystics, who are not characterized individually (which may be the point), but who are instead defined by marvelous touches like the booming nine-tone chord they sing, to the Podlings, with their Celtic/medieval folk culture like something out of a Brueghel painting. Most detailed of all, of course, are the Skeksis, conceived to satirize the worst excesses of western civilization, with individual characters lovingly (or maybe hatefully) realized as incarnations of politics, war, science, organized religion, and even fashion, with a couple of Deadly Sins thrown in for good measure. (Some question whether a handful of Skeksis in a board room could actually lay waste to an entire planet, but, again, that's probably the point.) In the midst of this explosion of creativity, the Gelflings are often criticized as bland and lifeless; it's a legitimate complaint, but it should be remembered that we are meant to see this fantastic world through their eyes, and so their blankness actually helps bring the other races into clearer focus. All this arty symbolism wouldn't amount to much, of course, if "The Dark Crystal" didn't also work aesthetically, and while the cinematic technique is actually surprisingly conservative, happily the film is well plotted and paced (for a film that lingers so much on the details of a fantasy world, there are few scenes that don't move the story along), often quite scary (the Garthim, organic tanks that can come into your house, are a terrifying concept), at times hilariously odd (the eye! my god, the eye!), extremely clever in its use of sound (from the aforementioned Mystic singing, to the Chamberlain's whining and shrieking, to the telltale clicking of the Garthim), and as an example of how to capture puppets believably on film, completely unparalleled. Ultimately, it may be too challenging in some ways to ever find more than a narrow cult following (in the U.S., anyway – apparently the French and Japanese ate it up), which is too bad, and it's even sadder that its commercial failure sent Henson into a deep depression from which he never fully recovered. It's a magnificently original film; there should be more like it. 10 out of 10.
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Beautifully made but sometimes overwhelmingly disturbing
trixie-k-885 March 2012
The Dark Crystal is a fantastic film made by Jim Henson. It truly is one of those movies that prove what a genius he was, and that his genius stretched past Kermit and Big Bird. However…I always have mixed feelings about this movie.

The Dark Crystal takes place in a fantasy land that has fallen out of balance and turned evil because "the dark crystal" has lost a shard. Then comes Jen, a "gelfling", a small creature with a sweet face and long hair. Jen has has been raised by the "mystics" large, peaceful creatures that tell him he is the last of his kind. He is the last of his kind because the "skeksies" have killed all the gelflings due to a prophesy that a gelfling will overthrow their reign. The skeksies are evil, bird/reptile like creatures that are the complete opposite of the mystics. Simultaneously, the leader of the skeksies and leader of the mystics die, and Jen goes on a quest to find the missing shard in the Dark Crystal. On his journey Jen finds Kira, a female gelfling raised by "podlings", who also believed she was the last of her kind. Together, Kira and Jen must find a way to restore the shard to the dark crystal, therefore creating balance in their world once more.

This movie is a visual feast. It is absolutely amazing what Henson managed to do with the muppets and the worlds he created. As many have said it is even more amazing to see it in comparison to today's CGI and advanced special effects, and appear superior. The plot is also solid, with lots of meaning and spirit. However…I personally always found the film difficult to enjoy. As a child this movie gave me horrible nightmares, as it did for many other people. This is probably high on the list of traumatizing children's movies! So parents be forewarned, this shouldn't be shown to children under age 8, or even those a bit older who scare easily. In fact, adults can still find many aspects of this film disturbing, including scary characters, music, voices, and actions. One of the most disturbing aspects is how the skeksies would suck the "essence" (soul) out of podlings, drink it to prolong their own youth, and then make the podlings into slaves. As an adult I can look past the scary parts to recognize how well the film is made and written, but I still find it difficult to enjoy. That aside, it's definitely worth a watch.
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Really odd.
Tommy Nelson31 July 2006
Starring: The Muppet performers (Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Kathryn Mullen and Dave Goelz) with the voices of Jerry Nelson and Steve Whittemire.

There is no other way to describe this film other than those two words. It's about a fictional land where these weird vulture creatures called the Skekses rule the land and do as they please. There is an almost extinct race of creatures called the Gelflings that can stop the Skekses. The film follows our main character Jen as he travels to stop these horrible creatures. The movie is done with puppets and it looks amazing especially for the time. I highly recommend this mixture of fantasy with black humor.

My rating: *** 1/2 out of ****. 92 mins. PG for some violence.
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A great film that scared the crap out of me the first time.
Collin-320 February 1999
When I first saw this movie I was around 4 or 5 years old. Jim Henson was by far the best puppeteer in history, the way he handled the evil lizard guys (I forgot their names) was terrifying to a four year old. The strange thing was that I couldn't get enough of it. I was drawn into this film by the sheer beauty of it. The sets were amazing and made me want to live in the world expanding before my eyes. I love it.
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