The Dark Crystal - 1982
Director - Jim Henson and Frank Oz
Somehow before seeing this film I can't help but feel that a serious film that has no real actors and is based around puppets can only be a mistake. Ok we've all seen puppet based films before but they have humour and are designed for comedic value, not a serious drama. So upon watching The Dark Crystal I could not help but feel disapointed, especially bearing in mind I've not already seen this film and it was released when I was only eight years old. It so turned out my instinct was right, the fantasy plot involving the cliche good verses evil puppets had no character and there was no connection made to draw you into the story. The New York Times agree that it "is without any narrative drive whatever. It's without charm as well as interest." This would have work if I had watched it as an eight year old, but now it doesn't wash.
All that said you can't help but feel inspired by the detail depicted in this fantasy world. Everything in it from the sets to the characters and props look beautifuly made and is the only reason that keeps you watching. From that point of view it's a success for the directors "a dazzling technological and artistic achievement" is how Variety discribe it. The whole world seems busy with a muddle of cutesy and odd creatures that meander in and out of shot keeping you busy looking for what might come in next. This world is really alive and will keep the average child cinema goer delighted.
Also the environments themselves give a feel of grandure not that unlike of Star Wars, a film that directors Jim Henson and Frank Oz had worked on previously for the creature effects. It's true it all looks good, as Time Out say it "has put all his energies into creating a spectacular range of live-action creatures" but the details and budget spent on making this film look good meant that they seemed to neglect some of the most important points in film making, to make a protaganist that you care for and can connect to.