The Dark Crystal (3/31/12)

Dark CrystalMovie Seventy One

The Dark Crystal is a Jim Henson creation and the entire cast of the film are puppets. Unlike their Sesame Street cousins, these puppets are pretty horrifying to look at.

The Dark Crystal came out the same year as I was born (1982) so I’m not exactly sure when I first saw it but I do not remember being terrified of it. This is a bit confusing because as a twenty nine year old watching the movie again, the puppets themselves are grotesque and the movie is kind of frightening, even if unintentionally.

The film is about several warring races and the power of titular dark crystal. The Skeksis are the evil faction, they look like mutated buzzards, and the trollish Mystics are the good guys. There is also Jen, the last of the Gelflings, who were wiped out by the Skesis. The Dark Crystal follows Jen’s journey to find find the missing shard of the crystal and the adventures along the way.

I imagine The Dark Crystal was a huge risk for Henson since he was known for Muppets and Sesame Street at the time. It is not a film that I could easily recommend for young children and I’m not even sure who would be the target audience for the film. It has almost a Tolkien-esque feel to it but it isn’t executed on flawlessly. Nostalgia was much kinder to The Dark Crystal than I was expecting. It had been many years since I had seen it or Labyrinth and I was expecting to enjoy The Dark Crystal a lot. Also, it’s worth noting that my wife and I decided to watch this after seeing the amazing documentary Being Elmo, even though Kevin Clash did not work on this film, we had a better appreciation of puppetry.

I give it 3 Fizzgigs out of 5.

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Being Elmo (3/31/12)

Being ElmoMovie Sixty Nine

Being Elmo is the biography of puppeteer Kevin Clash and even if you have never heard of him before, I can promise you have seen his impact.

I think everyone, regardless of age, has at the very least heard of Sesame Street. I suspect many of us grew up religiously watching the show. Jim Henson’s creations were a large part of growing up in the 80s for me. Being Elmo does not require any background knowledge of Elmo, or even a deep knowledge of Sesame Street. The message portrayed is universal.

Being Elmo is really about following a dream. Kevin Clash devoted his life to puppets from an early age. He kept with it through high school, in spite of the ridicule. He touched children’s lives with his creations and never seemed to regret it. That alone is endearing. Getting a chance to work with Jim Henson was truly a dream come true for him and we travel with Clash and his family to those defining moments.

We see his talent, both with puppets and with children and it truly is touching. I was not expecting to really enjoy this movie as much as I did simply because I’m not really familiar with Elmo. The movie is really not about Elmo, it is about Kevin Clash, but there is a history lesson for the character. Being Elmo will truly touch your heart.

I give it 5 Jim Henson and Kermits out of 5.

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