The Silmarillion

The Power of the Dark Crystal

Crystal Sequel KiraWhat happens when Disney buys your company? They make unnesseccary sequels of the films you became famous for. On February 1, 2006, The Jim Henson company announced the start of production on a sequel to Jim Henson's classic "The Dark Crystal." Award-winning animation director Genndy Tartakovsky, you might know him from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory, was tapped to direct Power of the Dark Crystal.

Brian Henson said the new "Crystal" will mix a lot of styles, including puppetry and a new 3-D animation technique that is being developed by the studio. The earliest release date, he said, is late 2008 (SFGate).

I am not sure that I my feeling about this feel could be more mixed up and confused. I love "The Dark Crystal" and the idea of a sequel excites me a little, but I doubt it could live up to the extraordinary vision and genius of Jim Henson. The characters and setting were formative to my imaginal life, and in many ways form the back bone of my concepts of story and epic fantasy that work themselves out in my own books.

The image of Kira they released from the new flick looks good, and I must admit: In a film like this image is half the problem. The other half is the story and with an honorable mention going to the acting.

"[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 (MTV Movie Blog)."

Whether it should or not, the very idea that Jim Henson wanted to make a sequel and only scrapped it after the lackluster reception to the "The Dark Crystal" and the difficulty in bringing such an original world to the screen gives me hope. I have read other reports that they relied on notebooks from those meeting with Jim in the development of the new story.

So what is The Power of the Dark Crystal about?

Set hundreds of years after the events of the first movie when the world has once again fallen into darkness, Power of the Dark Crystal follows the adventures of a mysterious girl made of fire who, together with a Gelfling outcast, steals a shard of the legendary Crystal in an attempt to reignite the dying sun that exists at the center of the planet (The Jim Henson Company).

Or as they explained it in October, 2006:

The "Power" script continues the tale of elfin heroes Jen and Kira, 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 (MTV Movie Blog).

Sounds interesting, and it at least seems to reference the last film. I am concerned about the use of the Shards from the Crystal again. This feels more like a sad excuse to bring back the Skeksis and the Sages than a solid foundation for a second story. While the success of a sequel is often judged more by how well it fits into the template established by the previous tale, part of me wishes they would have treated the first film more like "The Lord of the Rings treats "The Silmarillion", backstory and history.

I would feel more comfortable about the new project if they would have explored the setting more and not simply shattered the crystal again. It renders the Jen's victory in the previous film pyrrhic at best.

If a direct to DVD sequel wasn't enough for you:

The sequel is only one of several projects exploring the world of The Dark Crystal, a fan favorite that has remained consistently strong with worldwide home video and DVD sales. Other projects include an animated television series, a manga series from Tokyo Pop, and myriad licensed products such as books, apparel and collectible sculptures (The Jim Henson Company).

No details are available about the television series or the manga, but I am keeping my eyes open.

The Power of the Dark Crystal is slated for release in 2009. I think I agree with Frank Oz, Jim Henson's partner in crime and voice in the original "Dark Crystal":

When asked his feelings about a "Crystal" sequel, [Frank] Oz had a one-word answer: "Why (SFGate)?"

Review: Where the Shadows Lie by Battlelore

[reus name="Music Review" meta="cd=Where the Shadows Lie&artist=Battlelore&release=2001&recorded=Music Bros Studios during July - November 2001&genre=symphonic metal&length=46:59&label=Napalm&rating=10"]Where the Shadows lie is the first album by the Symphonic metal band Battlelore. It is hard to explain this band to those who have never hear their Tolkien inspired lyrics.  Their style has been called variously silk and steel, beauty and the beast, and symphonic metal.  It is a mix of styles bringing together elements of rock, blues, folk, classical, and doom metal.

This is a brilliant album, recorded and mixed by Miitri Aaltonen at Music Bros Studios during July - November 2001.

Cover painting is “Morgoth and High King of Noldor” copyright Ted Nasmith and HarperCollins, 1998.

The Band

Kaisa Jouhki - vocals Patrik Mennander - vocals Tommi Havo - guitar Jyri Vahvanen - guitar Miika Kokkola - bass Henri Vahvanen - drums Maria - keyboards

Guest Musicians

  • Jyrki Myllärinen - Classical guitars

The Tracks

  • Swordmaster stars-5 The lyrics are a bit weak on this track, but The mood and the music are a fitting ode to the Swordmaster.
  • The Grey Wizard stars-5 This song follows the formula established with the sword master.  I happen to like the formula so I love the song. It tells Gandalf’s life story for the time he is the grey wizard.
  • Raging Goblin stars-4 Fitting its theme of Goblins on the warpath this track has a harder, more chaotic edge.  The force of the blast beats and growling vocals evoke the stories of the Goblins and the Olog-hai.
  • Journey to Undying Lands stars-5 (See Video here) Great song, mesmerizing and powerful.
  • Shadowgate stars-5 The tale of Minas Morgul is told through a sparse song that barrows many elements from techno/industrial music, but it stays a symphonic metal song.  This is probably my favorite track on the album.
  • Fangorn stars-5 Join the ents in their attack on Isengard.  You have to love any song with the line: Die, die uruk-hai!
  • The Green Maid stars-5 The cleanest and most stripped down song on the album: nothing more than a guitar and vocals.  Hauntingly beautiful and echoing.  Luthien Tinuviel is well remembered in this retelling of the great love story from The Silmarillion.
  • Khazad-Dum, Pt 1 (Ages of Mithril) stars-3 The origin of Moria.  I think this is an overly simplistic song for Battlelore.
  • Ride With the Dragons stars-5 The tale of Morgoth''s creation of the dragons.  This song sent shivers through me at times, maybe from the story, maybe the music, or perhaps it was just the dragons.

Get you copy of Where the Shadows Lie by Battlelore from Amazon, eMusic , and Battlelore - Where the Shadows Lie.

J.R.R. Tolkein Born

In 1892, J.R.R Tolkein, the master of Mythopeia was born.  I have mixed feelings about Tolkein since the Peter Jackson films came out. Ok, I admit that I  am a bit of a fanboy, but I am getting tired of all of the Lord of the Rings pop culture references.  I admit that the Family Guy poltergeist episode was hilarious, but LoTR used to mean something to me.  Now it is nothing more than a trilogy on the self.  I read the Silmarillion again recently, and pray that they don't make a film out of it.

These words are not going to be welcomed by a lot of people, but I have to say it: Sometimes the movies corrupt the books.  I am burned out on LoTR for now.  I can't wait of the day when the pop culture forgets about Tolkein and for his legacy to be returned to the people who care about the books, not the money.