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YMMV / The Dark Crystal

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The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance can be found here.

1982 Film

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The Skeksis, life draining tyrants who destroyed an entire race to preserve their lives or senile old aristocrats who are desperately trying to keep their own identity, but their other halves sent an agent to prevent this from happening.
    • It's possible to see Jen as a Decoy Protagonist, with Kira as the real chosen one and hero of the story, given how little Jen actually does to advance the plot by himself and how Kira is almost always the one who saves them and even sacrifices herself when Jen cocks up the shard-inserting job at the end. The narrator did, after all, say Jen was the chosen one "at this time".
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  • Audience-Alienating Premise: At least at the time. Reading through contemporary criticism of the film, you can't help but sigh as so many of them completely miss the film's point of not being for kids despite being a Jim Henson film starring puppets (Henson had a lifelong fight against the idea that puppets are just for kids, even saying it's healthy for kids to be scared sometimes). Luckily, it's since become much better regarded as we've gotten a better idea of what Henson was trying to do, and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance vindicated the film further by undoubtedly finding a large audience.
  • Award Snub: How in the blue blazes did the film not get a Best Original Score nomination from the Academy Awards?
  • Awesome Music: The WHOLE soundtrack by Trevor Jones, especially the main theme. There's a reason one of the options on the DVD was to play the movie with only the music as audio.
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  • Badass Decay: In the series, the Skeksis are each killing machines and viciously talented in their respective fields. By the time of the film, however, their society has atrophied to the point where only skekTek the Scientist can be described as having retained his full abilities.
  • Complete Monster:
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  • Creepy Awesome: The Skeksis are grotesquely decaying, hedonistic, genocidal vulture-like humanoids, but their distinct presence and instantly recognizable designs have made them long-time fan favorites.
  • Cult Classic: The film was a modest grosser at the box office and is considered as one of Jim Henson's most underrated works. It has developed a steady cult and an Expanded Universe in books and comics in the years following since its release, so much so that a prequel series was eventually made.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Chamberlain is beloved in the fandom for being an intelligent, distinctive and memorable villain who's masterfully portrayed and acted, who even has his own mini-arc in returning to the power he lost. In the prequel, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, the creators have noticed this and skekSil is a major character with chances to show just how smart and dangerous he truly is.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Yes, the Crystal is healed and so is Thra, and Jen and Kira and the Podlings are free to live out their lives in peace. But the Mystics and Skeksis as the individuals they became effectively perish, the Gelfling race is down to two, the UrSkeks are travelling onwards with half of their own dead and gone, the fundamental issues with their race that set all of this in motion in the first place are still there, and Thra's history is forever bloodier for their arrival.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Skeksis are fondly remembered as one of the strong points of the film. They each have distinctive designs, personalities, numerous character moments, and many many moments of indulgent evil. The prequel would go on to give them further development and screen time even fleshing out the less developed ones like the Emperor and Scroll-Keeper.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The movie was the highest-grossing box office release for the year (1983) in Japan, and it even got a spin-off in the form of a manga series published by Tokyopop there.
  • Narm Charm:
    • The film is not known for the nuance of its dialogue, but some of the blunt and occasionally very workmanlike lines are part of the film's broad charm.
    • The film was very ambitious with its puppetry, to the point of overreaching, but the occasional Special Effects Failure and Uncanny Valley reaction are likewise viewed by fans as part of the film's unique character.
    • Fizzgig's pathetic howling when clinging for its life near the climax.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Jen and Kira are pretty bland as far as protagonists go and are arguably the two least visually interesting puppets. Contrast the menacing, unique, and colorful Skeksis (who many argue are actually less creepy than the Gelflings), and this trope is something of a no-brainer.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • Nude Jen in the opening is the only time a character looks like a bad puppet.
    • Ditto for Kira using the sling to take out the Crystal bat.
    • The Garthim. They are meant to stand on many legs, but you can clearly see the two human legs in the costume doing all the work.
    • Human shapes crouching on stilts are a bit too visible concerning the Landstriders.
  • Squick: The Chamberlain near the beginning gives us a glimpse of what a Skeksis looks like completely naked. It's not pretty.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • The Skeksis have the potential to be this, especially if you love vultures.
    • skekUng becomes oddly handsome when he temporary becomes younger after drinking podling essence.
  • Uncanny Valley: Gelflings look just close enough to humans to be slightly eerie given the limitations of their facial expressions and other movements, even though their appearance was intended to make them more relatable. The podlings also fall a little into this. By contrast, the Skeksis, Mystics, Garthim and other characters simply look like living creatures whose expressions are real enough to not be as jarring.
    • The Urskeks themselves with their perpetual Prophet Eyes and appearing as the closest to resembling humans, but with branch-like extensions on their heads and no visible change of expression add to this.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Jen serves more as a pillar in the story rather than the focus and works as a way of allowing the Audience a grounded view into the fantastical world of Thra. The Gelfling puppets are less outrageous and expressive than the Mystics and Skeksis and work as a Lead You Can Relate To while the Skeksis dark inhuman antics provide an interesting contrast. Ultimately it is Kira who moves the story by her hand rather than Jen and her still living family gives her journey more tangible stakes.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: SkekEkt the Ornamentalist. Word of God says this is exactly what they were aiming for with all of the Skeksis.
  • Vindicated by Cable: A rather underwhelming theatrical release but it did much better in syndication and DVD — enough to warrant two Expanded Universe prequels in other media.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Admit it, the effects and world building on display here are darn impressive.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Probably not for really little kids, though. Even though Jim Henson and Frank Oz directed this movie, it's no Sesame Street or The Muppet Show. The story is pretty dark for a Jim Henson production, with some scenes that can be considered unsuitable for young viewers, like when the Skeksis drain the Podlings (and Kira) of their vital essence. Henson said that he intended the film to be a throwback to the fairy tales of The Brothers Grimm, as he felt it was unhealthy for children to never be scared.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: At the very least. Sure, those urSkeks who remain after the end don't get called out, but the sentiment is still there, resonating through both the film and the series. They came, they saw, they royally screwed everything up and then... apparently yeet themselves out of Thra without so much as an apology? (Except maybe for any who somehow didn't conjoin near the Crystal, at least.) What the hell? A quick heal, a brief explanation for what happened (with the air of "oopsie" at most) is... scarcely a "sorry, maybe we can come to an agreement on reparations and repairs?", guys. What happened to collective responsibility, dear you couldn't-even-have-fused-without-those-you-genocided collective screw-ups?
    • To their credit, they at least resurrect Kira as a thank you to Jen.

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