Beautifully realized landscapes and characters with a really fantastic story. Though, upon seeing this for the first time as an adult the pacing felt needlessly slow - perhaps in part due to the performances and puppetry. But regardless, this is a classic.
Without a doubt, this is Jim Henson's best-loved fantasy adventure that has thrilled & delighted me many years now. Everything about it I can describe is beautifully-made: the puppetry, the set design, the music, everything else all genius! And besides, there are no human characters in the story but it's all realistic as if the world is full of Henson's creations. So much fun watching this! Henson has always succeed.
Oh how I miss American children's fantasy films in the 80s where filmmakers were not afraid to evoke a genuine feeling of dread and oblivion. Today all we get is empty, family friendly CGI crapfests. Henson's storytelling here is rather dull and overly simplistic but the world depicted here is fascinatingly grim and the creatures grotesque and frightening.
If this film had been done without any dialogue and just the narrator giving us the basic plot (like he does in the beginning) then the film would be perfect. Aside from that the puppets are beautiful and the art direction is masterful.
THE DARK CRYSTAL is like LABYRINTH if you removed any comforting human presence, got rid of all the fun songs, and magnified the creepiness by 75%. The artistry of puppet dream team Jim Henson and Frank Oz is apparent in every frame. About 80% of this movie is well done. The other 20%, the plot and dialogue, is a loud, wet fart that goes on just long enough to make you uncomfortable.
One can clearly see the high amount of effort and attention that went into production design and visual effects. Unfortunately, everything else about the film isn't nearly as impressive. The universe is generic, the story is basic and slowly-paced, and the characters have no personality (and some are outright annoying). Apart from its look and serious tone, there's just nothing distinctive about it.