80s Fantasy Movie Review: “The Dark Crystal”

the-dark-crystalI embarked on a quest to watch through Tor’s list of 80s Fantasy. I haven’t seen many of those flicks, so I figured I’d watch through. Here, I review “The Dark Crystal.” There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

There was quite a bit of parallelism in the narrative beginning, which was really interesting. Unfortunately this parallelism didn’t really continue in the rest of the movie. Nor did the plot really get any more depth added beyond the beginning. The story is pretty straightforward: go restore the Dark Crystal so that the world can go back to being green and happy again. So the setup is what you have to rely on to keep the whole rest of the narrative going.

But let’s be honest. “The Dark Crystal” is not at all about the plot. It’s about a whimsical, beautiful journey. And beautiful is probably the defining characteristic of this film. Every single set is a veritable feast for the eyes as details abound. Small creatures move around; water bubbles; plants move and have unique looks to them; everything is covered with intricacy. It’s pretty amazing to behold and it is easy to just get caught up looking at the movie rather than watching it. Scene after scene shows viewers yet another marvelous vista, another amazing place that looks worthy of exploration.

And while we’re listing some good things, that opening scene was pretty awesome, wasn’t it? The voiced-over opening with the parallels between the bad guys and good guys. The beautiful scenery. The foreboding castle. That is fantasy done right.

It is, however, kind of hard to get over everything being a puppet. Sure, I love Star Wars and there are puppets in there all over. But they are used more subtly. EVERYTHING in this movie is a puppet. Seriously. If it moves, I’m pretty sure it’s a puppet. That’s not a bad thing by necessity, and they are just as beautifully and interestingly made as are the sets, but it is a little hard to get over it.

The Good

+Absolutely stunning
+Amazing sets with ridiculous amounts of detail
+Some pretty neat moments
+There’s a mini-Chewbacca-dog
+Great opening

The Bad

-Bare-bones plot
-A little hard to get over everything being puppets

The Verdict

My Score: “Fantasy muppets is beautiful. That pretty much sums it up.”

Guest Verdict (My brother-in-law, Jon): “Entertaining and fun, but neither exceptionally fun nor exceptionally bad.”


“The Dark Crystal” is the kind of movie I am confident I would have loved if I had seen it about 20 years ago. Unfortunately, I’m first seeing it now, and some of the flaws that I think nostalgia or youth could have covered are all the more evident because of this. The movie is stunningly beautiful, but the plot itself is extremely thin. That said, it is such a feast for the eyes and the setup is so good that I feel willing to forgive a whole lot. Also, I really wish I’d seen it a while back because I’m pretty sure this would have been among my favorite movies ever.


J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Time to Watch some 80s Fantasy Flicks– I describe my quest to watch a bunch of 80s fantasy movies. This post also features links to all the reviews done so far.

A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy that would please Crom Himself– The original list of movies that made me embark on this quest.


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