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Labyrinth (1986)

Where nothing is what it seems

Directed by:

Jim Henson

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 98 minutes

UK Certificate: u

On DVD

Country: United States

Long before FX departments started relying on computers to supply their more weird and wonderful characters, Jim Henson was using good ol' fashioned puppetry (or should that be 'muppetry'?) to bring his fantastical tales to life.

While that inevitably means parts of this 1986 fairy-tale adventure have aged better than others, the ambitious Terry Jones-scripted “Labyrinth” remains as enjoyable as ever. Jennifer Connelly plays Sarah, the tantrum-throwing teen whose baby brother Toby gets on her nerves once too often during another night's babysitting. If truth be told she's a bit of a weirdo, hence her decision to wish for goblins to come and take her bothersome sibling away. Of course, when her wish comes true she lives to regret it, and what's worse is she only has 13 hours to retrieve the squealing tot before the goblins get official custody (which would surely never stand up in court).

Helping – and occasionally hindering – Sarah as she fights her way through goblins, caverns and even the Bog of Eternal Stench (hold your nose for that one) are fairy-hating midget Hoggle, gentle giant Ludo, and a talking dog named Sir Didymus.

David Bowie dons an uncomfortably-tight set of leggings and a Kajagoogoo-style spiky mullet for the role of Jareth the Goblin King, who it has to be said has a slightly unhealthy interest in our 15-year-old heroine. Thankfully, she's having far too tough a time making her way through the maze outside the Goblin Castle to take any notice of Jareth's increasingly desperate advances. Perhaps he should consider getting a nice haircut and a new wardrobe?

It's Got: A cracking soundtrack from David Bowie – who performs five original songs during the film.

It Needs: More extra sections for DVD viewers.

DVD Extras Theatrical trailer, filmographies, and a 56 minute documentary which, amongst other things, reveals that Sting and Michael Jackson were also up for the role of Jareth. Given one particular scene where Jareth throws the baby around the Goblin Castle, it’s probably for the best that Jacko was kept away from this one. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Summary

At times extremely dark but always hugely entertaining, another winner from The Jim Henson Creature Workshop.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 13, 2010 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    I’ll second the love for good old fashioned puppets and effects. One of the most effective in the movie is the ‘helping hands’ which are just gloves hands joining together to make faces. Much more unique and effective than a million dollar CG bombast.

  2. Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    labyrinth is an adventure quest film and is in the mid 80’s, it has a comparison with the film goonies, a childrens adventure quest film aswell. it actually has a lot of earlier films technique’s in it, for example the hole’s where “sarah” falls down them is like “alice in wonderland” and where “sarah” has to eat the fruit, its like “snow white”. i think when it is all added together with also the great actor “David Bowie” and the fantastic pupets i think its a great film for all ages.

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