“The Dark Crystal” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 29
“End, begin, all the same. Big change. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad.”
I’m relatively certain I saw The Dark Crystal as a child, but perhaps I eradicated it from my memory due to abject terror of the Skeksis.
A kid’s movie, this is not – not really. I mean, there’s nothing gory, no foul language, no sexual connotations… yet there are plenty of things that are inherently frightful to children. Beyond the evil-incarnate designs of the Skeksis, their spider-beetle-crab “Garthim” creatures that appear often, the idea that they drain the “life-essence” of others is intense, and the overall bleakness of the world in which the characters inhabit permeates the movie with darkness.
What I do like and admire is the obvious talent on display and clever framing in order to make what are essentially Muppets come alive. It’s grueling work, and the characterizations and acting performances do shine through all of the rubber latex and elaborate costuming. The Aughra character, in particular, stands out – likely thanks to the skills of the incredible Frank Oz.
It seemed long, despite being a scant 93 minutes, and it seemed predictable in some ways, but it was also a fully-realized vision. It’s the kind of film that hardly ever gets made – and probably for good reason. The difficulties with stages, set design, performance, all add up to even higher costs than just a typical human actor in makeup. Studios gamble when they release a movie like this, and luckily, this one seemed to be a modest financial success, and perhaps even greater status with its cult film success.
The Dark Crystal was at the time of this review at #565 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #1024 among the best films of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
The Dark Crystal vs. The Monster Squad
Another quasi-cult kid’s movie from the 80s. The Monster Squad is also another movie that probably would never get made today. My nostalgia is strong for it, so it will win – but that could change on a repeat viewing.
The Dark Crystal vs. About Schmidt
The Dark Crystal. While Nicholson is good, he’s better in other things he’s done.
The Dark Crystal vs. The Perfect Storm
The Dark Crystal. Wasn’t that hot on The Perfect Storm, really. Fairly forgettable as far as disaster-y movies go.
The Dark Crystal vs. Reign of Fire
I’m giving it to Reign of Fire for still having some of the best on-screen dragons ever.
The Dark Crystal vs. The Book of Eli
Eh. Book of Eli didn’t wow me with its take on the post-apocalypse dystopia. Dark Crystal has a much more artful style.
The Dark Crystal vs. Billy Madison
No way is an Adam Sandler movie going to win against The Dark Crystal.
The Dark Crystal vs. Bend it Like Beckham
I’m more impressed with the technical achievement of The Dark Crystal than the storytelling of Bend it Like Beckham.
The Dark Crystal vs. Kung Fu Panda 2
Eh. The Panda series is ok. Very safe Dreamworks stuff. The Dark Crystal is ‘ballsier’ – for lack of a better word.
The Dark Crystal vs. Blood Simple
Not one of my favorite Coens. Dark Crystal wins.
The Dark Crystal vs. Children of Men
Could almost go either way here. I think Children of Men is pretty highly overrated because of the cinematography. Pretty pictures are not the end-all of a movie. Giving the win to Dark Crystal.
The Dark Crystal is now ranked #847 out of 1503 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Next up is Grosse Pointe Blank, The Hunt, and Mud. In the meantime, check out the other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.