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The Dark Crystal

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    86
    from 6 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • The Dark Crystal's 4K release enchants with visual splendor and superb audio, a must-have.

    The Dark Crystal 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    88
  • The Dark Crystal's 4K UHD Blu-ray release dazzles with unprecedented clarity, depth, and vibrant HDR colors, making it a must-have for fans.

  • Audio
    89
  • The Dark Crystal's Dolby Atmos mix enhances its immersive experience with robust, precise audio, highlighting environmental details and dialogue clarity, elevating the film's auditory depth.

  • Extra
    87
  • The Dark Crystal Anniversary Edition includes a Blu-ray with unique extras like a new featurette on its legacy, commentary, storyboards, and original content, plus a digital copy and a letter from Lisa Henson.

  • Movie
    85
  • The Dark Crystal, a pioneering fantasy epic by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, blends masterful puppetry with a simple yet captivating story, brought to life in stunning visual detail and technical ingenuity.

    Video: 88

    The Ultra HD Blu-ray release of "The Dark Crystal" showcases an impressive leap in visual quality, thanks to a meticulous 4K restoration process. Originating from a 35mm film source, the film has been scanned and given a 4K Digital Intermediate, resulting in a native 3840 x 2160p resolution presented in a widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio. This restoration benefits from the application of 10-bit video depth, a wider color gamut (WCG), and high dynamic range (HDR), all encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HDR10. This technological upgrade significantly enhances the detail and textural integrity of the film’s elaborate costumes, set pieces, and intricate puppet designs, offering an unparalleled clarity and depth that was previously unseen in earlier releases. The contrast is notably improved, displaying rich blacks and bold highlights, while retaining a natural grain structure that preserves the film's original cinematic essence.

    The implementation of HDR and WCG has remarkably amplified the visual vibrancy and depth of the film’s unique fantasy world. Colors are more pronounced, especially in the depiction of the Skeksis' clothing and the iconic Dark Crystal itself, which exhibits a captivating iridescence. The enhanced resolution also brings newfound attention to the background details and creature designs, imbuing the film with a more tangible and immersive quality. Despite some noticeable visibility in matte shots and minor grain presence in darker sequences as a result of the restoration process, these aspects do little to detract from the overall visual feast.

    However, it’s important to note that while the upgrade illuminates previously obscured details, particularly in darker scenes, it slightly impacts the film’s originally dark atmosphere. Some might argue that this adjustment shifts the mood, yet it undeniably opens up the visual frame, allowing audiences to explore Jim Henson's intricately crafted world in ways never before possible. The finesse in color grading ensures that the HDR application doesn’t appear over-processed or unnatural, striking a commendable balance between enhancing visual impact and maintaining fidelity to the source material. This release sets a high benchmark for 4K restorations, offering fans both old and new a definitive viewing experience that honors the legacy of this beloved fantasy classic.

    Audio: 89

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "The Dark Crystal" features an exemplary Dolby Atmos audio mix, enhancing the viewing experience with its meticulous attention to detail in sound staging and ambiance. The mix showcases a notable improvement over previous editions, providing a more immersive and spatially aware audio experience that beautifully complements the visually stunning 4K presentation. When characters like Jen are introduced, or during the unruly Garthim attacks, sounds are placed with precision around the listener, creating an enveloping soundscape that brings the fantastical world of Thra to vivid life.

    Particularly impressive is how the Atmos mix utilizes both overhead and traditional channels to add depth and realism to scenes. Overhead channels are employed to excellent effect, adding atmospheric sounds and discrete effects that coincide seamlessly with on-screen events. For example, the storm over the Skeksis' castle or the mystical calls of the Mystics leverage these channels to elevate the emotional impact of these moments. The balance of music, effects, and dialogue is handled expertly, ensuring clarity and engagement without overwhelming the listener. Bass is rich and well-integrated, lending a robust foundation to the audio presentation.

    Moreover, this release showcases a wide array of audio options, ensuring accessibility across various languages while maintaining high-quality presentation through its diverse Dolby Digital offerings. The Atmos mix itself is a standout, with every element, from the nuanced environmental sounds to the dynamic score by Trevor Jones, presented with clarity and precision. The mix's ability to capture both the grandeur of action sequences and the subtlety of quieter moments underscores Sony's commitment to delivering a top-tier auditory experience for this classic film.

    Extra: 87

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "The Dark Crystal" offers a compelling array of extras, primarily housed on the accompanying Blu-ray disc. Highlighting these is the exclusive "The Myth, Magic and Henson Legacy" featurette, providing an insightful behind-the-scenes look courtesy of Lisa Henson and Toby Froud, shedding light on the film's creation and its remarkable impact. While a significant portion of the supplemental content—such as commentary by Brian Froud, storyboard tracks, and various documentaries and deleted scenes—is carried over from previous editions, their inclusion is an appreciable nod to the film’s history and enduring fan base. Notably absent are new extras in higher resolution, which could have further enhanced the viewing experience. Each extra contributes to a deeper understanding and appreciation of this cinematic masterpiece, complete with a Movies Anywhere digital code for convenience.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • The Myth, Magic and Henson Legacy: Exclusive interviews providing a retrospective on the film's production.
    • Commentary with Brian Froud: In-depth technical commentary.
    • Picture-in-Picture Storyboard Track: Concept art pop-ups synced with the film.
    • Original Skeksis Language Scenes with Introduction by Screenwriter David Odell: Exploring the initial concept for the Skeksis’ language.
    • The World of The Dark Crystal: A documentary featuring behind-the-scenes footage.
    • Reflections of The Dark Crystal: Two featurettes examining the film's creation.
    • Deleted Scenes: Additional content not included in the final cut.
    • Photo Galleries: A collection of images from the film.
    • Theatrical Teaser & Trailer: Promotional materials for the original release.

    Movie: 85

    Jim Henson and Frank Oz's creation, "The Dark Crystal," marks a significant milestone in the realm of fantasy filmmaking, emerging as a beacon of innovation in puppeteering and visual storytelling. The film's 4K UHD Blu-ray release showcases an audacious leap, undertaken in 1982, towards crafting a live action realm devoid of human characters, yet brimming with life and authenticity. The detailed 2160p/HDR video presentation, coupled with a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack, breathes unprecedented vitality into the densely packed world of Thra, highlighting every fiber of Brian Froud's fantastical designs with impeccable clarity. As the narrative of Jen’s quest unfolds—a simplistic yet enchanting tale of courage facing darkness—the visual feast presented reaffirms the timeless allure of this cinematic gem.

    The dual narrative tracks within this world—a balance-seeking adventure and the deep-rooted clash between the malevolent Skeksis and the serene Mystics—resonate with a clarity and depth that are both enhanced by the technical brilliance of the release. Through Sony Pictures' meticulous restoration, audiences are granted an intimate viewing experience, one that reveals the minute intricacies of the characters and their surroundings, from the Skeksis’ chamberlain to Aughra and her detachable eye. This adherence to visual fidelity ensures that the pioneering creature effects, a hallmark of Henson's vision, retain their mesmerizing charm, offering new and returning viewers alike a doorway into the epicenter of creativity that "The Dark Crystal" represents.

    Embracing the darker tones and genuinely unnerving moments that set it apart from contemporary children’s cinema, the film ventures into territories that challenge the conventions of its genre. The restoration serves not only as a testament to the enduring legacy of Henson and Oz’s masterwork but also as a bridge connecting past and future generations of viewers. With its complex puppetry techniques serving as precursors to later marvels in animatronics, "The Dark Crystal" stands as a crucial point of reference for understanding the evolution of cinematic creature design. This release, therefore, is not just a revival but a celebration of the artistry and imagination that continue to inspire filmmakers and audiences around the world.

    Total: 86

    The Dark Crystal, a definitive piece of fantasy cinema directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, has been beautifully transitioned into the 4K UHD Blu-ray format by Sony. This release is not just a simple upgrade but a substantial improvement over previous formats, enhancing the visual and auditory experience that further immerses its audience in the movie's enchanting yet eerie world. The restoration presents extraordinary detail, color depth, and black levels that breathe new life into the intricate puppetry and vibrant environments. While some may have concerns over the lighter image compared to its Blu-ray predecessor, these are minor when considering the overall enhancement in picture quality. Additionally, the Dolby Atmos sound mix is a major highlight, offering a wider surround field and impressively layered 3D effects, coupled with a deep and tight bass. This release also includes a wealth of extras, both new and legacy, ensuring that fans and newcomers alike will find value beyond the film's remastering.

    The inclusion of new featurettes alongside older extras provides a comprehensive look into the making of this timeless classic, satisfying both long-time fans and those newly introduced to Thra’s complex mythology. This release captures the essence of The Dark Crystal, elevating its visual feast and captivating story through technological advancements in video and sound quality. The transformative effect of the 4K UHD format showcases the film’s elaborate puppetry and design in exquisite detail, making it a vital addition to any collection.

    In conclusion, Sony's 4K UHD Blu-ray release of The Dark Crystal is more than just a testament to the enduring legacy of Jim Henson's work; it's an essential upgrade that significantly enhances both video and audio quality, providing a richer and more immersive viewing experience. Fans old and new will marvel at the clarity and depth of the visuals and appreciate the upgraded immersive sound experience, making it highly recommended. This release ensures that The Dark Crystal will continue to be a visual and sonic delight for future generations, cementing its place as a beloved family adventure film that stands out in the realm of fantasy cinema.