The Dark Crystal Prequel Series Coming To Netflix

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by JD, May 18, 2017.

  1. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Being bleeding edge in puppetry and other filmmaking skills in 1982 doesn't always translate a generation (or is it two generations now?) later.

    Jim Henson always tried to be high tech with his films and television shows. Always trying something new to stand next to the tried and true puppet with a hand in it or on wires. Even one of his last TV shows had a prototype CGI puppet.

    The Dark Crystal could be scary back in the day, though one needs to get about 20 minutes in I think, even though the Skeksis by themselves are both scary and a bit funny at times (thanks t their performances). Put the camera work was excellent in that film.
     
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  2. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It seems like 'Dark Crystal' has always been a bit of a hard sell, appealing to a somewhat niche audience.
    Personally, it took me more than one viewing to really start to appreciate it. It was weird and yes while the puppetry was state of the art, the end result was still somewhat less than convincing at times (mostly the Gelflings since they strayed closest to the uncanny valley.) The plot was at times hard to grasp and the characters were mostly following the myth & fairy tale school of logic, so some turns felt random and forced.

    This is not an objective critique of course, just a general recounting of the impression it left on me back when I was in the age range of the target audience. I think it's relevant because it's not a recollection coloured by nostalgia since I was less than a year old when the film was released over here. I didn't grow up with it like some people, and only discovered it much later when it came on TV.

    By contrast, the fantasy movie I DO have a nostalgic view of is 'Willow'. That is a film I grew up with, and which really didn't resonate with the older audience at the time either, but young me loved it and so does old me.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But CGI is not intrinsically more advanced than puppetry/animatronics, just an alternative technique. The state of the art for animatronics and practical creature effects has advanced over the past few decades along with CGI, and we've seen a resurgence of practical effects in the new Star Wars movies and elsewhere. (There's the sad tale of the prequel to The Thing from a few years ago, where the FX team did these amazingly sophisticated animatronic creature effects, but the studio execs were blinded by the myth that CGI is automatically better and demanded that all the expensive, lovingly executed creature effects be replaced at the last minute by rushed CGI that looked far more fake and awful.)

    And don't dismiss the value of a puppet with a hand in it. Puppet Ghost Yoda in The Last Jedi had far more personality and humor than CGI Yoda in the prequels.
     
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  4. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    He might have experimented with CGI towards the end, but I really can't see him having stepped away from puppetry entirely.
     
  5. EliyahuQeoni

    EliyahuQeoni Commodore Commodore

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    If it makes you feel better, I showed the Dark Crystal to my son when he was 7 or 8 and he loved it. We're both looking forward to the new series.
     
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  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes. Henson was willing to explore any technology or art form that he could use creatively.
     
  7. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think one of the most frustrating things about his death was that he missed out on so many of the big advances that have happened since then. I would love to see what he would do with modern technology.
    As great as the Muppets are, it's the stuff like The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Storyteller that really made me a fan, and I would have loved to have gotten more of that kind of stuff from him.
     
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  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes. He wasn't just a puppeteer, he was a pioneer. It frustrated me when Disney's movie The Muppets came out and they touted how old-school and traditional it was with its techniques. They totally misunderstood what Henson's work was all about. Plus they made it too cozy and sentimental, with none of the transgressive edge of Henson's Muppets.
     
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  9. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We have a trailer, and it looks absolutely amazing.
     
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  10. Awesome Possum

    Awesome Possum Verified Disney Princess Moderator

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    From what I can tell he thought it could be used to augment and enhance certain puppets and be used when a traditional puppet or animatronic couldn’t work. The Henson company has made a few CG shows, like Sid the Science Kid. But they use a similar puppet rig to the one that Jim invented combined with motion capture. They can actually do multiple takes, so it’s more like puppetry than traditional CG.

    CG is also useful in removing elements so the puppets look more lifelike. The Disney Mupppet films have been removing the arm rods in the last two films and been able to do more interesting things with them. The Muppets Most Wanted has some great puppetry in it.
     
  11. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    So all of the characters are puppets, but there definitely is a lot of CGI in there for enviroments and some of the stuff we see from the characters do was probably enhances with CGI, like what we've seen in the last couple Muppet movies.
     
  12. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Probably the most useful application of digital technology in puppetry is along the same lines as what Studio Laika have been doing with stop-motion. Not just removing rods, seems, strings and the like, but compositing elements and environments together that couldn't possibly be done in camera all at once, even though all of those elements are at least partially filmed in-camera rather than built only in the computer.

    As for the trailer...It looks very good, though part of me feels like they were a little TOO faithful to the original in some ways. The Gelflings for example still seem to suffer from that expressionless, dead, doll-eyed look that always stopped me from fully investing in the original movie.
     
  13. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I am a little surprised they didn't do more to add a bit more expressiveness to the Gelfilings.
     
  14. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    The trailer looks incredible. :D

    No different from Farscape. It's a balancing act and, like Farscape, it looks like this series struck the right equilibrium.
     
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  15. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm wondering how much of that wheeled thing we see is CGI and how much is practical. It looked like some kind of combination of the two.
    I was surprised to see a Fizzgig, that I did not expect.
    I haven't seen any mention anywhere if any of the returning characters, like Aughra or the Skesis will be voiced by the original actors. Well, Aughra will have to be someone new, since according to Wikipedia, Billie Whitlaw, who voiced her in the movie, died in 2014.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I still keep expecting Aughra to sound like Frank Oz, because he did the puppeteering for the character and I've seen behind-the-scenes footage where you can hear him doing Aughra's voice, as sort of a cross between Yoda and Miss Piggy (and Jim Henson doing Jen in a somewhat Kermit-ish vein). I think they decided to dub in different actors' voices because they wanted to differentiate The Dark Crystal from the Muppet movies.
     
  17. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, none of the regular Henson performers did the voices for the characters in The Dark Crystal.
    EDIT: Actually, I just checked Wikipedia, and I was wrong, Jerry Nelson (who was the original voice for Floyd Pepper, Count Von Count, Robin the Frog, Lew Zealand, Uncle Deadly, Gobo Fraggle, Pa Gorg, and Marjory the Trash Heap) was the voice of The Ritual Master and The Emperor.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And Steve Whitmire (Rizzo the Rat and Henson's successor as Kermit until 2016) voiced the Skeksis Scientist, whom he also puppeteered. (Nelson, surprisingly, only provided voices rather than puppeteering for TDC.)
     
  19. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, I missed that one. I missed it before, but it turns out Jerry Nelson died in 2012, and according to Wikipedia Steve Whitmire was fired from The Muppets in 2017 following some disputes with the people in charge. So it looks like that's two more voice actors from the first movie who probably won't be back.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It looks like none of the voice actors from the original are back; they've gone for celebrity voices this time. Although it's clear from the trailer that whoever's playing the Chamberlain is imitating the distinctive "Hmmmmmm" mannerism that Barry Dennen gave the character.

    And yeah, Whitmire's departure was announced in 2017 but apparently it happened late in 2016. From what I've heard of Matt Vogel as the new Kermit, I think he captures Kermit's original voice and personality much better than Whitmire did.