The Dark Crystal

Movie Information

Genre: Puppet Fantasy
Director: Jim Henson, Frank Oz
Starring: Jim Henson, Kathryn Mullen, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz
Rated: PG

This is one of those cult items that I’ve never “gotten,” and trying it again for this review didn’t change that. I think this is one of those Generation X things that requires the viewer to have grown up on Sesame Street (or worse, Fraggle Rock) to appreciate. For someone whose only childhood exposure to the Muppets was Rowlf the dog on the old (pre-sausage) Jimmy Dean Show, this ersatz Tolkien with puppets looks and plays like ersatz Tolkien with puppets.

The whole story line about Jen (voiced by Jim Henson) off on a quest to find the missing shard of a crystal — the absence of which is causing a blight on the land — is sort of Tolkien by way of the Arthurian legends. There’s a certain creepy atmosphere to the proceedings, but getting past the fact that it’s a puppet show that’s rather flatly directed and staged is another matter.

However, there’s definitely an audience for this movie (you know who you are) that will be glad of the chance to see it. Rated PG.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

[Walk-in Theatre presents The Dark Crystal at dusk on Friday, Oct. 14, in the parking lot behind the Bledsoe Building in West Asheville. The film is sponsored by Orbit DVD and the merchants of the Bledsoe Building. Admission is free — and once again, please leave pets and alcohol at home.]

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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3 thoughts on “The Dark Crystal

  1. Ashley

    I wonder about this Tolkien references…
    Did the reviewer ever read any book by Tolkien? Or did he just look at the cover and see pictures of characters with pointy ears and short creatures that eventually were merged in his jumbled mind to produce this review?

    Trying to further justify the Tolkien link with the Arthurian legend twist because the Dark Crystal plot includes a blight on the land is like saying The Brothers Karamazov is like Law and Order because of the murder, subsequent, and twisted love affairs. The elements might be similar, but the themes that were attempted are quite different.

    And did you even watch the film? To say that this movie is about Jen’s quest to find a missing crystal shard is a rather interesting claim, given that he finds the crystal shard in the first third of the movie. This is a sloppy review. Just because you write on the internet with instant publishing results does not mean that your writing needs to reflect the instantaneous transmission of whatever harebrained idea comes to your mind. Your indiscriminate references produced a rather ersatz review…

  2. Ken Hanke

    It’s not much of a review, because it’s not a full review, but a brief one done for a particular purpose. It was not “instant publishing,” either. It appeared in print — harebrained or not. It also appeared nearly four years ago. What kept you?

  3. Peter Voth

    This review makes no sense! Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street, and Tolkien are all completely awesome. What could anyone have against puppets?

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