‘The Dark Crystal’ 4K UHD Blu-ray Review
Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal is a one-of-a-kind experience that has rightfully gained cult classic status since its original release in 1982. Hot off the 35th anniversary comes a timely 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray that takes full advantage of the film’s recent 4K remastering effort.
There wasn’t a film like The Dark Crystal when it was released and there hasn’t been once since. Imagine the highly complex Jabba The Hutt larger-than-life puppet and its many operators from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Now imagine a wholly original fantasy film where every single character is constructed and performed that way.
Beyond The Dark Crystal’s artistry from the mind of Henson, artist Brian Froud and legendary Frank Oz is a story as old as time itself. A struggle between good and evil portrayed through the spiritually driven Mystics and their evil counterparts, the hardened and selfish Skeksis. And an unlikely hero — the elfish Gelfling — destined to save them all. Anyone can relate.
Many genre films fail to stand the test of time but not The Dark Crystal. Its timeless world is as ageless as the puppetry and story within; a testament to the genius and legacy of Jim Henson and his numerous talented collaborators.
Sony took the original 35mm film negative for The Dark Crystal and used it to master a new 4K version that this Ultra HD Blu-ray is derived from. The results are as good as you might expect for a 35-year old film, delivering likely the definitive version to own.
Right away the benefits of 4K and HDR are noticeable during the opening backstory sequence. The color of the crystal is a deeper purple, while the Skeksis lair is all the more impressive with clearer details evident on the creatures and their wonderfully designed surroundings.
The Dark Crystal is comprised of many varying locations; some lush and green while others are dark, withering and dying. The 4K remaster handles all of these better than the previously released Blu-ray, pulling out details I had never noticed before.
What earns the final stamp of approval is how the 4K remaster doesn’t digitally erase the film grain from the original negative. Instead, it embraces it so the story doesn’t lose its original filmic quality.
Dolby Atmos audio has been employed to push what was already an active surround mix a little further with front and rear overhead effects being distinguished from one another. Obviously the mix’s age won’t complete with bombastic modern soundtracks, but what is presented provides all the clarity and warmth needed to compliment the visuals.
A single new bonus feature, “The Myth, Magic and Henson Legacy,” is found on the inclusive Blu-ray along with all the legacy extras. It jumps between interview segments with Jim Henson’s daughter and company president, Lisa Henson, as well as Brian Froud’s son, Toby Froud.
The remaining bonus features, all of which are worth checking out, include:
- Deleted Scenes
- Commentary with Brian Froud
- Picture-in-Picture Storyboard Track
- Original Skeksis Language Scenes with Introduction by Screenwriter David Odell
- The World of The Dark Crystal Documentary
- Reflections of The Dark Crystal: “Light on the Path of Creation” & “Shard of Illusion”
- Photo Galleries
- Theatrical Teaser & Trailer
The Dark Crystal fans are most likely to be interested in this new 4K release and it’s worth it based on the video upgrade alone. Throw in a new bonus feature and Dolby Atmos audio, and this is likely the definitive version of The Dark Crystal for quite some time.
Shop for The Dark Crystal on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray at Amazon.
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