Thursday, June 26, 2014

Labyrinth (1986)

I'm of the opinion that there are way too many fantasy books, and not enough fantasy movies. Even if you lump in all the ones not deserving of a mention in a post about today's movie, you'll still probably only come up with a pretty small number. Hell, Charles Bronson probably starred in more action/cop films than there are fantasy flicks! *sigh* Well, tonight I'll be talking about 1986 fantasy Labyrinth!...

Teenager Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is a pretty miserable teen, with parents she doesn't like much, and her baby brother Toby, who really annoys her. One night, she has to babysit Toby, and his incessant crying infuriates her enough that she pretends to call on The Goblin King to take him away forever, acting out a scene from The Labyrinth, a book of hers. Unfortunately, Sarah's faux desire is taken all too seriously when Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie) shows up at the house and steals Toby away to his kingdom, where the baby will turn into a goblin. Desperate to get her baby brother back, Sarah travels into the strange fantasy world of the Labyrinth before time runs out...

Jim Henson's Labyrinth is considered to be one of the best fantasy flicks out there, and for good reason. It's not my favourite (chalk that up to Deathstalker II, and Krull), but I'm sure it'll become a permanent viewing staple for me (I technically saw it for the first time only a few hours ago).
It can look childish, and at times, it is a bit, but it's still a great sit for all ages!...Except for those stupid little kids who think it looks 'stupid' and 'too kiddy'. God I hate kids like that!...And I am fully aware that that make me a hypocrite...As I said, I technically saw this film for the first time today...

The plot is well-written and interesting, with many cool plot points, and a multitude of very good dialogue (mostly from David Bowie). And there's that riddle, which you know you understand, but can't wrap your head around without pausing the movie for five to ten minutes. Thankfully it does at least make sense, unlike that goddamn 4 gallons riddle in Die Hard With a Vengeance, wherein the film had Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson speed-talk quickly in that scene so you don't hear the solution not being said.

Some take issue with the end, as they feel it's an anti-climax, and tantamount to the happy sunshine and rainbow fairies climax resolution to A Nightmare on Elm Street, but I think otherwise. It works thematically, and it's a very good scene. And besides, having some epic magic duel or sword-battle with Sarah and Jareth would be the real anti-climax if it happened. This isn't like Lord of the Rings!

The animatronics and puppetry are all great! They look convincing, lifelike, and it's all actually really there, rather than be done by computers. As for the set design, it's a great sight too, even if there are a few onvious matte paintings here and there. The Labyrinth has many varied pathways, mazes, and rooms-No two sets look alike...Or they deliberately look identical to up the surreal factor. The best by far is in the finale.

The acting is all good. Jennifer Connolly makes a decent lead, while David Bowie is a very good villain (and his infamous crotch-bulge isn't as big or noticeable as the internet seems to make out).

There are several musical numbers, almost all sung by Bowie, and they range from pretty good to very good. "It's only forever, not long at all"... Anyone who can't rock along to Magic Dance officially has no soul. Although on one hand, it doesn't exactly do wonders for your villain when they turn into Ziggy Stardust, but on the other hand, haven't you ever wanted to see a villain singing Magic Dance? And besides, David Bowie can do whatever he wants. One of the best scenes in the movie is the surreal ballrom scene, set to As the World Falls Down.

One of the only problems I have with Labyrinth is the song with the red imp things. Not only could I barely understand what the hell they were singing about, but the green screen use in that scene is obvious. Also, the battle with the goblins at the end is a bit of a clusterfudge.

Labyrinth is one of the best fantasy movies out there, and while that might sound like it isn't saying much, it's a great watch if you're in the mood, and keen on the genre.


  1. WOW for seeing it for the first time! I think I wore out the VHS as a kid. You have no idea how hard I wanted to be Sarah.

    Great to hear your thoughts on a first watch. Chilly Down is an odd li'l musical segment, and good point about the green screen aging poorly. Fun fact: the soundtrack (which I also might have worn out) includes a sort of rap sequence in it. It STILL doesn't really make sense though.

    1. Movies worthy of having worn-out VHS's are the best kind!

      A rap song? Odd. That reminds me of the Street Fighter soundtrack, which was apparently very rap-heavy.

      Thanks for the comment, Emily!

  2. Nice review! I really like this movie and I'm not sure how many times I've watched it. I know some of the special effects are a little laughable today, but I guess for the 80's they're good! The puppetry is of course awesome. Some people have told me that those red, difficult to understand, dancing puppets really scared them when they were young. I can't connect to that, because I always thought that part was funny. Maybe they were bothered when the puppets took their heads off? Who knows. It's not a movie for the easily frightened I guess. :)

    The Labyrinth is one of those loose, dream-like movies for me. I'm more into it for the imagery than the plot. David Bowie and the puppets are fascinating.

    Have you ever seen this "unattended children" sign online?

    Someone is creative!

    1. Awesome and cute!

      Dream-like movies definitely have a neat appeal!

      Haha! Funny sign!