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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 17.24%
Average: 10.34%
Pretty Bad: 1.15%
Total Crap: 2.3%

4 reviews, 63 user ratings

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Dark Crystal, The
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by Justin Helmer

"A new spin on the old tales."
5 stars

I have a problem seeing the forest for the trees when it comes to movies. As my love for the art form has increased over the years, I have increasingly had trouble looking at the film as a whole. Instead, I focus on the technical details, and look for the “quality” of the movie. It’s a condition I’ve come to think of as “Critic’s Eye,” and The Dark Crystal is the perfect antidote.

I first saw Jim Henson’s under-appreciated masterpiece when I was young enough to buy into it completely. There was no disbelief to suspend, so I sat there, goggle-eyed, completely awash in a new world. I recently saw it again, after an interval of many years, and was amazed at how much I became that little boy again.

The story is an old one, but not in the tired, retread way of many Hollywood films. It feels old, like the best of myth, but the world it’s set in is entirely its own. In another nod to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, there is an orphan, there is a journey, and there is a wounded world.

Jen, a Gelfling, has been sent on a mission by his adopted family, the ancient race called the Mystics. He must travel far from his home and heal a fissure in the great dark crystal. There is, however, another problem: The evil Skeksis like the world the way it is, which is how Jen got to be an orphan in the first place. Because there is a prophecy that says a Gelfling will heal the crystal and end the Skeksis’ rule, they set out to wipe the gentle Gelflings out.

As is usually the case in what English teachers refer to as “The Hero’s Journey,” there are friends and enemies, guideposts and adventures along the way. Notably the so-ugly-she’s-cute wise woman, Aughra, and Jen’s eventual love interest, Kira.

Part of the fun of watching the movie now is the realization that this other world was created so completely in a time before digital imaging became the norm. The sense that, as unreal as the situation is, the setting physically exists lends a dimensional oomph that George Lucas would be well-advised to have a look at before he goes into Episode III.

It’s reassuring for us to think of good and evil as completely separate states; it allows us the luxury of believing that one might finally win out over the other. This movie, however, tells the rather more disconcerting truth: neither good nor evil can survive without the other. How can we know what’s right if there’s not a corresponding wrong to measure it against? Pretty deep stuff for what is ostensibly a children’s movie! We more like it that don’t talk down to youth.

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originally posted: 07/12/03 23:39:13
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User Comments

5/07/11 Blake A. A fantastic movie with the most beautiful, vibrant, I-wish-I-could-go-there worlds ever 5 stars
9/14/10 sunny day For a children's film, it sure has mature symbology that nonretarded adults can appreciate. 5 stars
2/09/10 Squeakie All beautiful handcrafted visualizations, with stunning and original fantasy lore. 5 stars
12/09/09 Dr.Lao Not a classic by any means, but an enjoyable, underrated film 4 stars
8/24/09 muppet hard on An excellent fantasy film - for kids at least 5 stars
7/17/08 C-NOTE a film for kids guaranteed to scare the hell out of kids. Stil,l fascinating stuff no doubt 4 stars
2/09/08 bored mom Way better than all the anime crap out there combined. 5 stars
9/28/07 Noelle A classic. 4 stars
8/03/07 itchmr very few flaws, moving story 4 stars
8/01/07 Dark Enchantress Great movie, so vivid and wonderful! 5 stars
8/01/07 salemswildcat Took my kids to see it, WE loved it!! 5 stars
7/31/07 Chris Cama loved the film recomend it to anyone under 12 4 stars
1/19/07 Laszlo The greatest fantasy movie ever made ! 5 stars
8/31/05 Klondo perhaps the best 4 star movie ever - but a little too boring 4 stars
8/28/05 D Buckley The most interesting universe ever created in a movie. 5 stars
8/16/05 ES Still the only movie I can name with no humans in it on a totally alien world= that's cool 4 stars
6/30/05 Eric Crooks A True Jim Henson Classic, He pushed himself making it. It's defiantly a masterpiece ! 5 stars
10/29/04 xavier cruz Nice, but kind of slow 4 stars
9/11/04 NaturezRevenge Skeksis rock! Creativity like this can only come from the man Jim Henson. Fantastic! 5 stars
7/19/04 Ishtar To say this film is genius is an understatement. 5 stars
5/19/04 Brett Edyvane Absolutly brilliant!!! Fact... 5 stars
4/05/04 Neva this movie rocks my socks straight off it makes me believe 5 stars
2/02/04 Rudra Lorian YAWN! Just as fun as weeding the gardern! 1 stars
12/11/03 Johnlindsey Great movie, ranks with Labyrinth, Princess Bride, Last Unicorn and Harry Potter. 5 stars
9/03/03 gamer Very cool for an all-muppet flick. It's actually something different. 5 stars
8/26/03 Eloise watched it as a kid......scared me shitless..still have a thing about puppets 4 stars
7/24/03 Kit It's not that good...Labyrinth is much better 3 stars
7/15/03 Fonq35 Ah! One of the finest films I ever saw as a kid... or adult... 5 stars
6/14/03 Alice I used to love this movie when I was 15.I saw it again now and it was not all that anymore. 4 stars
6/09/03 Stacy M. Medina This movie is realy, REALY, touching...especially when Jen Finaly finds someone just like 5 stars
4/14/03 Charles Tatum The puppets were stiffer than Jim Henson 2 stars
1/01/03 louman great movie, incredibly life-like creatures, Jim Henson at it's greatest 5 stars
10/12/02 Nicole We watched this in school - it scared the hell out of me...looked way too real! 4 stars
4/06/02 Jessica the Platonist Returning to the film after many years, I was awestruck, fascinated. Brilliant, subtle. 5 stars
1/11/02 max zhang Short film for kids; on the other hand, Kira looks hot. 4 stars
11/26/01 Stark Well done 5 stars
10/12/01 franknspice this is a movie that crosses age lines and will forever be treasured as a film 5 stars
9/24/01 afrovio One of the B-E-S-T movies of all time - NO KIDDING !!! 5 stars
8/05/01 Julian This is the greatest fantasy movie ever made!!!!! 5 stars
6/30/01 wizzman All the digital fx morons should go back and watch(make that STUDY) this film!! 5 stars
4/23/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) I so totally lost myself in the'd swear the "performers" were really ALIVE... 5 stars
4/07/01 Paul Vaughn I wish they made more films like "The Dark Crystal." 4 stars
3/04/01 Corbin Dallas A Must see if you loved Labyrinth, The Last Unicorn and The 5th Element. 5 stars
2/27/01 Samantha This film is a must see 5 stars
2/23/01 Steve in Prague haunting of my 10 best ever 5 stars
1/24/01 Drod Amazing effects, and decent story 5 stars
10/06/00 Jen I've liked it since I was a kid. It still Makes me shit my pants. 5 stars
9/21/00 Paul W. Truly one of the greats! 5 stars
9/20/00 Jeff decent, I guess 3 stars
8/09/00 Brian so good 5 stars
7/21/00 Alex Arcone A fantastic tour-de-force of puppetry. 5 stars
6/22/00 Jennifer Lanci I grew up watching this movie, and I loved it with all my heart. I wanted to be Kira. 5 stars
5/28/00 punkass Whahuh? Distinctly average. Show it to your kids. 3 stars
4/16/00 JDC What the heck's with puppets on kids shows anyway? Don't they scare EVERY kid? 5 stars
12/24/99 Christoph Gregorovich A visual masterpiece in storytelling and art direction. No complaint here. Go see the movie 5 stars
11/12/99 alyssa Wonderful movie. Still holds its edge after all these years. 5 stars
3/11/99 Bats Scary thing is, I know a guy who looks just like the male "lead" elf! 4 stars
11/24/98 {{{OZ}}} Eery muppets. Awesome. 5 stars
11/18/98 MinxxDaShorty This movie gave me me nightmres 7 years ago...come to think of it , it still duz! Very cool 5 stars
11/13/98 Jules Very well done, excellent mix of existing legends and fairytales plus some original touches 5 stars
11/12/98 Lord Of The Dunce Muppets with monsters. Yay!!! 5 stars
9/17/98 cheryl_ann i loved it as a child and i love it now. great movie fun for any age. 4 stars
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  17-Dec-1982 (PG)
  DVD: 25-Nov-2003



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