Movie Review – “Labyrinth”

This was the second outings for Henson’s full length,
non-Muppet features. How did it fare?

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Jennifer Connelly as Sarah

David Bowie as the Goblin King

Others created by Jim Henson’s creature shop.

Written by Dennis Lee, Jim Henson, and Terry
Jones

Directed by Jim Henson

Complete information is available from the
IMDB
.

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past movie reviews can be found here.

Premise

A young girl must navigate the labyrinth to rescue
her brother.

High Point

Sir Didymus in battle.

Low Point

Inappropriate characters are present in the final
celebration.

The Scores

Like The Dark Crystal, the
originality is slightly
limited by telling a known story. (In this case,
it’s a new version
of The Wizard of Oz.) Still, they
incorporate a lot more
into this one. They don’t just build a new world,
but they provide a
new motivation, and introduce a series of subtle
moral lessons that
the target audience can really gain from. I give it
5 out of 6.

The effects were good when they didn’t
involve dancing
puppets that can take themselves apart. (That one
scene looks
terrible. The next time Lucasfilm is looking for an
old work to
revisit and clean up, that scene should be it,
provided they still use
puppets instead of CGI.) I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is well written. There are some
nice logic
puzzles, and encounters that are well designed to
deliver certain
lessons to the target audience. Most of those
encounters even serve a
clearly defined larger purpose while they go about
it. Most
importantly, the story is engaging and entertaining.
I give it 5 out
of 6.

The acting and puppeteering is serviceable,
but not
spectacular. The puppeteering was much better than
The Dark
Crystal
, but the acting was stodgy. True,
Connelly was only 15
when they were filming this, so she didn’t have a lot
of acting
instruction behind her yet, but that doesn’t mean her
work here should
be rated as if it were good. (Now, her work in A
Beautiful
Mind
or the fantastic Requiem for a
Dream
are
different stories. Unlike many child actors, she chose
to develop her
craft.) David Bowie is David Bowie. I give it 4 out
of 6.

The emotional response is much better than
its predecessor.
It’s a fun and engaging story that gets a nostalgia
boost it doesn’t
really need. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production is very well done. Take a
good look at the
credits; they include one Cheryl McFadden, better
known to most Bureau
42 readers under a different
name
. The
final sequence is extremely well done, and a nice
introduction to
Escher. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a fun movie, that doesn’t
feel as
educational as it actually is. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Labyrinth receives 34 out of 42.

9 replies on “Movie Review – “Labyrinth””

  1. jbrecken says:

    Telling a known story?
    It may have been evocative of The Wizard of Oz, but it was hardly a retelling. Dorothy is just trying to get home, after a series of accidents beyond her control happen to her. Sara is trying to rescue her baby brother from a fate that was the direct result of her own actions – her arc is more about redemption. The two stories share the formula of “Hero(ine) acquires unusual allies along the course of his/her quest,” but that’s a formula that’s older than Oz,and has been used in nearly every epic fantasy.

    And as far as parallels go, there’s as much of Alice in Sara as there is Dorothy.

  2. y42 says:

    The real Question
    Who would win in a fight between Jareth the Goblin King and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen?
    ; )

    • white.roses says:

      Re: The real Question

      Who would win in a fight between Jareth the Goblin King and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen?
      ; )

      Jareth. He’s not prone to the basic laws of physics, like, oh, gravity, time, things like that.

      Yes, I know this is a Sting-Bavid Bowie thing. I’m just being pedantic. :P

  3. Abednigo says:

    Worth renting or buying as an old fan?
    I haven’t seen this since it used to be played on HBO every other day (back in the mid 80s), but I was a huge fan then and seem to remember watching it everytime I came on. I’m curious if it still holds up today? It seems like the nostalgia effect is very strong based on the review. Would you advise an old fan of the movie (who hasn’t seen it in 15+ years) to just rent it for nostalgia, or is it worth buying?

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Worth renting or buying as an old fan?

      I haven’t seen this since it used to be played on HBO
      every other day (back in the mid 80s), but I was a huge
      fan then and seem to remember watching it everytime I came
      on. I’m curious if it still holds up today? It seems
      like the nostalgia effect is very strong based on the
      review. Would you advise an old fan of the movie (who
      hasn’t seen it in 15+ years) to just rent it for
      nostalgia, or is it worth buying?

      I hadn’t seen it since about 1988, and my only regret
      about buying it was buying it before the special edition
      was available.

      • y42 says:

        Re: Worth renting or buying as an old fan?

        I haven’t seen this since it used to be played on HBO
        every other day (back in the mid 80s), but I was a huge
        fan then and seem to remember watching it everytime I came
        on. I’m curious if it still holds up today? It seems
        like the nostalgia effect is very strong based on the
        review. Would you advise an old fan of the movie (who
        hasn’t seen it in 15+ years) to just rent it for
        nostalgia, or is it worth buying?

        I hadn’t seen it since about 1988, and my only regret
        about buying it was buying it before the special edition
        was available.

        What’s so special about it?

        • fiziko says:

          Re: Worth renting or buying as an old fan?

          What’s so special about it?

          A higher quality DVD transfer, 5.1 audio track, and loads
          of extras. Read all about it here.

  4. white.roses says:

    Speaking of . . .
    Since you mention Cheryl McFadden’s involvement with the movie, I should mention that one of the Fire Gang (of the poor SFX) was voice by Danny John Jules, who some might also know from another sci-fi-related project.

  5. Jethro says:

    Inappropriate characters are present in the final celebration?
    Ah, they weren’t innapropriate.

    The whole story, every thing that happened and every character were there for Sarah. Including Jareth.

    In fact, it was all orchastrated by Jareth. That’s why we’s looking in through the window at the end and not killing everyone. He did it all for Sarah to teach her to believe in herself.

    Notice how Sarah has many of the characters she meets throughout her journy in her bedroom before any of it happens. Sarah realizes in the end that all the strength she needs is within herself!

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