Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Power of the Dark Crystal"


Wherever he is right now, Jim Henson has to be smiling about this, and even though it's Wednesday morning, so am I.

Almost in time for the 25th anniversary of his 1982 film "The Dark Crystal" (which I have a feeling a few of you geeks out there may just have heard of), it seems there is a sequel in the works, "Power of the Dark Crystal." And though that news may give you the initial shudder it did me, this project seems to be in just the right loving hands to make it the wonderful creation it should be.

For "Power," Russian director Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of the "Clone Wars" TV series, is teaming up with Henson's daughter Lisa, co-CEO of the Henson Company, and English illustrator Brian Froud, conceptual designer for the original "Crystal."

Here's what Tartakovsky had to say on the MTV site: "I love the first movie. I saw it [when I was young], and it's resonated with me throughout my life. Through all the jobs I've had, we always referred to it. We would go, 'You remember that scene in "Dark Crystal"? That was great the way that shape was put in,' or something like that. [I'm determined] not just to relive it, but also to honor it."

Sounds like a true believer to me. And while Henson dedicated much of his energy to the original project, he knew well the technological limitations that hindered the original movie. As long as they don't go overboard with CGI, all the breakthroughs since then should make this one a beauty to behold.

"Puppetry has come a long way since 'The Dark Crystal,' " Lisa Henson told MTV. "When 'The Dark Crystal' was made, it was the first time that all those techniques were really refined to the degree that they could be put in a feature film. Since then, puppetry has come so far that the puppets we're going to use are going to be much more emotive than the originals. In addition to that, we can augment them with digital effects, but very subtly."

Per MTV: The "Power" script continues the tale of elfin heroes Jen and Kira (shown at top in a Henson Company pic from "Power"), last seen returning the shard to the evil crystal and seemingly abolishing the vulture-like Skeksis from their land. Set many years after the first flick, "Power" casts Jen and Kira as king and queen, now overseeing a kingdom whose peace is disturbed by a visit from the underground-dwelling U-mun people. After the Gelflings refuse their request for a shard of crystal that could preserve the U-mun race, a desperate visitor takes it anyway, threatening their world with another thousand years of chaos.

"[David Odell], who wrote this film with his wife, is the original writer of 'The Dark Crystal,' and he had discussed this sequel concept with Jim," Lisa Henson said. "They didn't get too far into it, but [Odell] had a pretty good memory of the basic bones of the sequel idea."

So, when will we get to see possibly get to see all this? "We have a lot of conception design done," Tartakovsky told MTV. "We'll start pre-production this fall, and then by next fall we will probably have a release." It's listed on the IMDB as being a 2008 release, but I'm certainly ready right now.

To read more of the original MTV article and see some storyboards, click here and enjoy all the geeky goodness.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

so glad genndy's taking the helm. his work for samurai jack was amazing (not to mention powerpuff girls). don't know if you know this, but he's also doing an animated version of Astro Boy, the hit manga (and gameboy game).
i think rintaro who did 'metropolis' would have been a better choice, but i guess he's already tackled that 30's style of animation.

Anonymous said...

Most of the time my heart sinks whenever I hear that someone is going to do a sequel to a classic film. In the case of Power of the Dark Crystal, however, it sounds like it could actually turn out to be good. Tartakovsky is talented and I have always been a fan of Brian Froud beyond his work on the original. And there have been advances in puppetry that could make it even better. For once, it sounds like a sequel worth making.

Reel Fanatic said...

I wasn't aware of the Astroboy flick, Jeremy .. thanks for the heads up .. I love Tartakovsky for his "Clone Wars" stuss, so I'll definitely check out anything with his name on it

carrie_lofty said...

Oh, what a relief. I was getting heeby-jeebies thinking about some asshat sequel.

DesLily said...

Ohhh, I loved the Dark Crystal and have it on vhs!.. I am looking forward to this movie! But like you said.. I hope they don't overdo the "digital" part.

Reel Fanatic said...

Looking at the rough storyboards, deslily, I'm fairly confident they won't go too high-tech with this ... here's hoping, anyway!

marina said...

Wow. This is fantastic news. This is a childhood favourite of mine that, oddly enough, I watched again over the weekend. Sounds like the team putting it together have their hearts in the right place. This is the way I wished all productions sounded.

tadkil said...

WOOOOOOT! Geeking!

Lori said...

I loved 'Dark Crystal' when I first saw it. As for this sequel, well...I'm not exactly jumping up and down at the idea...mostly due to my automatic negative reaction to a sequel. I'm not exactly bowled over with the choice of Tartakovsky as director...but I'll admit, they could certainly have picked much worse people to do it. And if he's as fannish about the original as he says he is, then I guess maybe it might be okay.

My biggest fear with any future Henson movies is that the art of puppeteering will be lost in a sea of overly flashy CGI, no matter how much the producers and director swear to the opposite.

I hope I'm wrong, though. It'd be nice if I was.

Reel Fanatic said...

I certainly have the fear about CGI that you do, Lori, but my love for Henson runs deep, and the fact that his daughter is deeply involved in this makes me keep the faith

bee vee vee said...

this is the best thing I've ever heard. ever.

McVie said...

[1] Thanks for commenting on my blog.

[2] I remember being entranced by "The Dark Crystal" when I first saw it (on VHS!) many years ago, so when I saw the DVD for the first time on-shelf a few months back, I immediately bought it. With much anticipation and excitement I sat down to watch it with my very younger brother and sister, both whom have not yet seen it. It made me sad that I now find the movie slow and unengaging; to my horror I found myself nodding off to sleep all throughout, even during the climactic sequences. I guess the "wow" factor had gone out and I was just left with the memory of it. Sigh.

Des said...

Colour me psyched.

Izzy said...

Comment

Reel Fanatic said...

I haven't reached that point with it yet, McVie, but maybe I'm just too hitched to it be objective ... I too have it on DVD, and plan to watch it again sometime this weekend to see if the magic is still there for me ... I'm almost certain it will be!

Kory said...

I think I just peed a little in my pants!

Divinity said...

A Dark Crystal Sequel? My boyfriend's going to flip! He's a uber Henson fan. We had to buy The Storyteller series the instant it came out...

Anonymous said...

I work for the associated press, we just got this news:

Production on The Jim Henson Company's sequel to the 1982 cult classic "The Dark Crystal" -- titled "The Power of the Dark Crystal" -- has been put on hold after more than two years of pre-production, casting and preparation. It's believed that Henson Company executives and Genndy Tartakovsky ultimately decided to cancel production on the film and not move foreword. Production is said to be "on hiatus", but it looks unlikely that fans of the original will ever see this follow-up fantasy film completed -- Henson has not commented on the production status and insiders say production is not planned to move forward.