With every passing year, the dividing lines between animation and live-action break down a little bit more. Who’s to say what’s a cartoon and what isn’t, when we’ve got pre-viz cinema from the MCU situating real characters in invented environments and the photorealistic Disney remakes plopping computerized images in our real world?
To further complicate the debate, here comes the trailer for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a prequel to Jim Henson‘s 1982 feature. Henson was considered a pioneer at the time for championing live-action animatronics over any other jiggery-pokery, and this new film will carry on his mission.
Director Louis Leterrier has been vocal about his commitment to creating characters through old-school puppetry, and the distinctly off-putting effect has been duly replicated here, the mutated rodentia moving with the same herky-jerky quality of their ’80s forebears. But again, these real characters have been immersed in a CGI wonderland making it difficult to discern the boundaries between reality and the digital.
Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Nathalie Emmanuel voice a trio of “Gelflings,” mythical creatures hailing from the world of Thra (though, in a truer sense, they come from the Uncanny Valley). They set out on a grand mission to recover a talisman of great and terrible power to use in the battle against the Skeksis, vulture-dragon-lizard monsters at the heart of childhood nightmares stretching from Gen X to the millennials.
These locked-away traumas will all be set free when the prequel arrives on Netflix, shaking loose the fearful memories of snapping beaks and karo-syrupy flesh long since buried. In this critic’s opinion, it’s about high time, too; too much nostalgia-bait seeks to coddle its audience with warm remembrances of childhood, instead of hauling the most frightening bits out of our psychological vaults.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will appear on Netflix in the US and UK on 30 August.
Published 30 May 2019
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