It’s easy to forget sometimes just how weird Jim Henson could be. Even the Muppets, who – though still funny – have become a very safe Disney property, used to be pretty weird. Henson’s weirdness really came out in his two non-Muppet ‘80s fantasy films, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.
One thousand years ago on another world, the Crystal of Truth splintered and became the Dark Crystal. The evil Skeksis worship the Darl Crystal and rule the land as tyrants. They have wreaked havoc on gentler races, enslaving the Podlings and wiping out the Gelflings. Two Gelflings survive: a girl named Kira and a boy named Jen. Jen is given a shard of the Crystal by the ancient Mystic who raised him and tasked with making the Crystal whole again before a rare celestial alignment. The Skeksis try to kill him and Kira on their quest.The story isn’t the main attraction here though. It’s really all about the art direction. The muppet creatures certainly aren’t as fluid or detailed as what computer animation could produce today, but there is an added realism to their…um…being real. And, overall, the designs are magnificent. As for the plot, on rewatching I have to admit that it felt rather slight. There’s not a lot to it, and what we do get is fantasy-by-numbers questing. I did always like the ending though. Maybe I’m just seeing the film through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, but I think this is an enjoyable work, and one of the better fantasy movies out there (especially pre-Peter Jackson).