By Ani Bundel
Fans of Netflix shows are aware the streaming service doesn’t do things by halves. For instance, in 2018 Netflix has spent a reported $12 billion on new content, a number that is expected to rise to $15 billion (yes, with a “b”) by the end of 2019. So perhaps it’s not surprising The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance director Louis Leterrier both praised the network and marveled over just how much money went into the making of it.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a prequel series based on 1982’s The Dark Crystal, a cult favorite in the fantasy pantheon, starring some of the late Jim Henson’s most fantastical work. Speaking at a press conference at San Diego Comic-Con, Lisa Henson, the CEO of The Jim Henson Company, said it was a lifelong dream to get this project done. But she was prepared to be told the only way was an animated series, not puppets. After all, the process of creating a fully-realized nearly all handmade world was time-consuming and pricey. Like Leterrier, she too was a little bowled over when Netflix came back with “No, do it right.”
For Henson, what makes the show stand apart is all that handwork that went into the creation of the series.
But for all that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance looks stunning, what may startle viewers most is the tone. Casual fans of the Muppets usually think of the comedy of The Muppet Show or the gentle teachings of Sesame Street when they think of Henson’s work. But the original The Dark Crystal was a dystopian fantasy horror piece. The prequel is just as dark.
Star Taron Egerton said that feeling of sadness was part of what makes the show stand out: “I think that the original movie, for anyone who’s a fan of it and fell in love with it, I do think melancholy is an intrinsic part of it.”
“That’s part of the charm of it and the love of it,” Egerton continued. “And so given the fact that [Letterier] and Lisa and the whole team have set about making this story very much in the spirit of the original, there is an element of melancholy to it. I think that’s part of its charm.”
Henson added: “The mantra in the writer’s room was ‘It’s not called The Light Crystal.’”
But just because the series is so dark – and the original film reveals how it ends – doesn’t mean the story is without hope. Henson argued that the fight is what matters, not the outcome.
“We think this is a really hopeful and inspiring story about heroes who, when faced with a really scary and mysterious threat – which is what the Skeksis are doing to them and threatening their very life essence – you know, they manage to pull together and fight as a team. You kind of don’t expect the Gelfling… If you know the original film, you don’t expect the Gelfling to have that kind of gumption. You don’t even know that they have a fight in them, but they do.”
All 10 one-hour episodes of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will arrive on Netflix on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.