Netflix has released the first full trailer for its new fantasy series, . It’s a prequel to the 1982 cult classic fantasy/adventure film and features a star-studded cast that includes Sigourney Weaver as the narrating Myth Speaker and Mark Hamill—fresh off voicing Chucky in the reboot—as The Scientist.
(Some spoilers for the original film below.
The original film was a marked departure for Jim Henson and his co-director Frank Oz, significantly darker in tone than his previous work. It tells the story of the planet Thra, which gets its power from a magical Crystal. That crystal cracks, producing two new species: the evil Skeksis and kindly wizards called the Mystics. The task of restoring a missing shard to heal the crystal falls to a young Gelfling named Jen, aided by a wise astronomer named Aughra and his fellow Gelfling Kira. And he’s on a tight schedule: the shard must be restored before the planet’s three suns align or the Skeksis will rule forever.
The film struggled at the box office opening weekend, hammered by competitors and . But it went on to gross over $40 million, turning a small profit, and gradually became a cult favorite as new generations discovered it. The American Film Institute even nominated to its Top 10 Fantasy Films list in 2008.
Henson had plans for a feature-length sequel, , but it languished in development hell for many years. Eventually, Director Louis Leterrier re-envisioned the project as a prequel series, based on all the backstory material Henson and Oz had created for the original film. They used the “Wall of Destiny” as a jumping off point and decided to explore that early Gelfling civilization that had been lost.
At last year’s New York Comic-Con, Leterrier said the series would be true to the original in the use of animatronic puppetry rather than CGI, with green screens to remove the puppeteers from the final footage. But there have been many technological advances since 1982: this new batch of puppets boasts remotely operated mechanical parts (via a modified Wii controller), and hence each only requires two puppeteers to operate rather than four.
In the new prequel, the Crystal of Truth has been corrupted by the Skeksis, and a plague spreads across Thra. It’s up to three Gelflings to save it: Rian (voiced by Taron Egerton of the series), Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy), and Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel). Per the official synopsis, the Gelflings “inspire a rebellion against the Skeksis when they discover a horrifying secret behind their power that threatens their world of Thra.”
What is this horrifying secret? Judging from the trailer, it might involve using the crystal to extract the life force from Gelflings—possibly the result of The Scientist’s ongoing experiments with the Dark Crystal. It’s likely to bring about an ominous-sounding event dubbed The Darkening. Brea has a vision of what’s to come, but her mother dismisses her fears: “You read too many stories.” But she finds an ally in Rian, who tells her, “Everything the Skeksis told us was a lie, and now everyone and everything is at risk.” Their only hope is… well, hope, which “catches the light, splitting the darkness, revealing your destiny.”
Among the many other major names lending their voices to are Eddie Izzard, Helena Bonham-Carter, Lena Headey, Alicia Vikander, Natalie Dormer, Mark Strong, Simon Pegg, Awkwafina, Benedict Wong, Andy Samberg, Harvey Fierstein, Toby Jones, Olafur Darri Olafsson, and Keegan-Michael Key. And, oh yes, there will be a tie-in video game: , slated for release later this year across multiple platforms (Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Microsoft Windows, and macOS).
debuts on Netflix on August 30, 2019.