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If you’ve never seen The Dark Crystal, you really should run out and rent it, before the upcoming, animated sequel to it arrives direct-to-DVD and ruins the original movie’s reputation. That’s right, I said animated and direct-to-DVD.
We’ve been hearing for months now about a sequel to The Dark Crystal being worked on by the Jim Henson company. Me, and just about every other Henson fan, has been pretty excited about it. The original movie is more than just a good film, it’s an amazing piece of artwork. Henson achieved something incredibly unique using entirely Muppets. It’s a technically fantastic film, a real, innovative achievement in its time. So more of that sounds pretty good, and the new one is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, the genius behind the awesome animated series Samurai Jack. He also did those sort of alright Star Wars cartoons, but really his best stuff is in Jack. It’s a work of art, and if you only know him from the Star Wars stuff, make it a point to run out and pick up Samurai Jack on DVD.
So while I want to be excited about The Dark Crystal 2, we’ve also been hearing rumors all along that for the sequel they might be tossing a lot of that artistry and hard work of the original out and subbing easy-to-use CGI, which sort of misses the point of the first movie entirely. Still, we all assumed it’d be a major theatrical release and that there’d be Muppets of some sort involved along with the CGI, at the very least. Well there will be a few Muppets mixed in with all that annoying CG, but don’t expect to be sitting in a theater seat while you watch it.
The Latino Review reports that Dark Crystal 2, aka The Power of the Dark Crystal is now a direct-to-DVD feature slated for shelves in Winter of 2008. I suppose that may explain the CGI, since direct-to-DVD usually means a crummy budget, and doing the movie properly and with all Muppets would require huge, awesome sets and a several million in cash. So they’re doing it on the cheap. In fact the film’s producer and the great Jim Henson’s daughter, basically admits as much in a Wizard Universe interview saying, “The first few times it came up we thought it would be impossible because the first movie was such a huge production in its day. How could we even do something like that because it was such a huge undertaking the first time around But then we started talking about a very interesting hybrid of puppets and CGI, and we realized it was doable and we got very excited about it.”
Oddly enough, that Wizard article, which LR references as their source, makes no specific mention of the movie being direct to DVD, even though LR seems to rather clearly indicate that it is. Assuming they’re correct, the sad truth here is probably that Henson Co. just couldn’t get anyone to finance it with the budget necessary for a theatrical flick. The company’s last attempt at doing theatrical was Mirrormask, a box office flop of absolutely epic proportions. Hell, I’m as much to blame for that as anyone. I’m a Henson fan, but even I never got up off my ass and made the effort necessary to seek it out and see it. Now we’re stuck with direct-to-DVD Dark Crystal 2, with limited use of Muppets and CGI overload. What a disappointment. I’d hoped this movie might be the thing to re-launch the Jim Henson Company as the force for amazing innovation it once was, but now it looks like it may be just another source for bottom shelf videos at your local blockbuster. I hope Kermit can live off Great Muppet Caper residuals.