WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
The Dark Crystal by Jim Henson (Producer)
Basic Plot: Jen is sent on a quest to find the missing piece of the Dark Crystal and save his country.
Plot: 3/5 Average: This is one of the movies, that I feel like would have made a great book, but makes a mediocre movie. First of all, it has a lot of slow scenes that feel necessary and are beautiful but are slow and at times seem like they are picture building rather than adding to the plot. While this is something that is needed more in modern movies, I feel like it would have been better on paper than on film. That way it could have better explained and paced the scenes than the movie did. Secondly, it could have better explained the back story of certain things, such as explaining perhaps why the plot is happening or how certain things work. Beside this observation, I have two things to say about the movie. First, I have to say the characters were full of flavor in their personality from the major to the minor. They were chock full of personality. Second, the only other bad part of the movie was that the plot twist was extremely obvious. It’s not hard for a person to guess how the already very linear movie is going to end.
Acting: 4/5 Well Done: Voice acting ranges from expressive and careful to slightly wooden. More colorful characters like the skeses have lots of inflection as well as extra details to make their voices echo.
Costumes and Scenery: 4/5 Well Done: Though no people showed up in the movie, the detailed and smooth puppetry as well as the swampy background creates a world of pleasure. Halfway through the movie, I almost forgot the characters were puppets and not actors the movement was so smooth.
Moral: 1/5 No Clear Moral, Possibly Bad: Though characters at times use bravery and cunning, there is no major or minor moral to the story. The only hints of a moral are at the very end when someone says “we all are part of each other,” which is a very vague and almost New Age philosophy.
Overall: 3/5 Average: The movie gives me really mixed feelings. The potential, beautiful puppets, and masterful voice acting hold so much for the future, but the washed out plot and nonexistent moral hurt the movie for those looking for something. I almost feel like it could have been the next Star Wars if done better, with its fascinating world of new creatures and countries, but the linear plot and bland characters keep the movie from reaching its full potential.
Note: There are going to be a lot of species names in this, so you may want to start at Magic to get an idea of their names.
Official Rating: PG
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Brief Nudity: At the beginning of the movie, a puppet that kind of looks like a human is naked, though nothing inappropriate is shown. A boy shares memories with a girl of him being given a bath when he is a baby. The details of an elderly woman puppets breast can be scene through her thin, tight clothing. A Skesis clothing is torn off.
Violence: 2/5 Brief, Non-Graphic Violence: A skeses stabs a gelfling, presumably killing it, but it comes back to life. A gefling stabs a skeses’s hand with a crystal. A skeses shoves its slave. Garthims fight with animals.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Brief Mention: A woman is told to watch her mouth when she calls the villains a bunch of mean names.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Scary Content and Death: A skeses dies and his face crumples into pieces. A skeses falls into fire. Two mystics die, and their bodies just fade away. A Gefling is nearly crushed to death by rocks. It is mentioned that a species was almost completely wiped out, and a character shows part of the memory of her home burning and her being hidden. A woman takes an eye in and out of her head, and it is at a time placed on a table and moves because she can still see with it. Garthims break into a house and destroy it, which catches on fire. They also attack and kidnap a tribe of Podlings. Skeses launch at and rip the clothes off of another Skeses. A character is turned into a slave by strapping it down and using light to melt its brain. This takes their “essence” from it, in a sense killing its mind, and then turns its face into a deformed, lumpy mess with wide eyes. This is attempted on a major character but fails. Some children may find the Skeses and slaves scary. Skeses eat a live creature whole that is similar to a mouse and attempt to hit it. Someone’s pet presumably falls into fire but doesn’t really. A Garthim and an animal fall off a cliff. A bunch of Garthim crumple to pieces, though nothing gory is shown. A castle crumbles. A man angrily throws a bottle at the ground. A character cries over someone’s presumed death. Character’s hands bleed, and a character’s arm bleeds. Skeses yells at a gelfling to die at different times and/or encourage their execution. A woman says “I fear, to death” and asks a character if the think she will eat them. “Deadly” is used for descriptive purposes. It is mentioned that the world and its inhabitants are “dying.”
Religious Issues: ½/5 Brief Mention: A Mystic says he hopes to meet his friend “in another life.”
Magic: 3/5 Frequent Use of Partially Realistic Magic: The story is a fantasy one of a kingdom that has completely story unique creatures like Gelflings, Mythics, Skeses, Podlings, and Garthims. Basically, the magical Dark Crystal is cracked into pieces and creates the Skesis and the Mystics, both which seem to practice some types of magic. A prophecy says a creature will stop some other ones. Characters share memories by holding hands. A skeses attempts to reverse its age by drinking the “living essence” of other creatures, but it fails. There are magical symbols, and it is mentioned that creatures were wizards and that they chanted and did rituals. It seems they can somehow hear a crystal calling them. Some magical ritual is mentioned called “Ceremony of the Sun.” At the end, through the Dark Crystal, light magically pulls characters together. Characters chant. It seems that characters do a funeral ritual to bring things to a character that has died, though this is not really detailed, only briefly happens.
Others: Puppets folk dance.
Overall: 2/5 Child Appropriate: The story does kind of border realistic magic a bit more than I personally care for, but I would not completely not recommend it. There are plenty of Christians who most certainly would not want to watch it, but more lenient ones that have no problem with series like Star Wars and/or Harry Potter should find no problems in enjoying this story. Do keep in mind that there are some scary scenes in this movie that could easily traumatize a little child or even a skittish older one.