I have to say, being sick on Halloween is no fun at all. I’m still not feeling 100% but at least I am not puking anymore. Speaking of Halloween, today’s movie would have been fitting to watch yesterday. After all, you’ve got a goblin king kidnapping a baby, something that people used to think witches did centuries ago on Halloween. You also have all sorts of goblins and other monsters, several of which I have seen people dressed as on Halloween or during DragonCon. And besides, it’s a Jim Henson movie and those movies are fun to watch anytime. So let’s get right into today’s movie, Labyrinth.
The plot: Sarah Williams is at a park rehearsing lines for a play when she realizes the time and rushes home. When she gets home, she gets into an argument with her stepmother about her being late before her father and stepmother go out for the night, leaving Sarah to babysit her baby brother Toby. Upset about being forced to babysit and finding that her favorite teddy bear, Lancelot, was in Toby’s room. Sarah angrily tells a story to the crying baby before wishing that the Goblin King would take Toby away as she leaves the room. When Toby’s crying suddenly stops, Sarah returns to the room and finds Toby’s crib empty, before a barn owl flies into the room and transforms into Jareth, the Goblin King. Sarah pleads with Jareth to return Toby but Jareth refuses and instead, tries to bribe Sarah with gifts so she will forget the baby. When Sarah refuses to forget about her brother, Jareth transports her to his world and tells her she has 13 hours to navigate through the labyrinth and reach his castle or else Toby will become one of his goblins. Reaching the edge of the labyrinth, Sarah meets Hoggle, a rather grumpy goblin that is spraying fairies, who shows her how to get into the labyrinth. Inside the labyrinth, Sarah gets discouraged when it seems like she is on a unending path without any turns but as she stops to rest, a worm talks to her and tells her where an opening is, but ends up sending her in the wrong direction. Progressing through the labyrinth, she tries marking the way but she soon discovers that her marks are being moved around. When she reaches two doors that wont open unless she answers a riddle, Sarah gives the wrong answer and ends up trapped in oubilette. In there, she meets Hoggle again, who she asks to take her as far as he can through the labyrinth in exchange for a bracelt she is wearing. As the proceed through the labryinth, the encounter Jareth, who threatens Hoggle for helping Sarah then cuts the time Sarah has to save Toby before summoning a cleaning drill to chase after them. They manage to escape the drill and Hoggle starts to leave until Sarah grabs his pouch of jewels, forcing him to follow after her. Continuing forward, they hear a loud roar, and Hoggle runs away, but Sarah presses forward and finds a large creature being pestered by four goblins. Sarah drives off the goblins and frees the creature, who’s called Ludo, and the two continue on their way, passing through a doorway and entering a forest. When Ludo suddenly disappears, Sarah calls out to Hoggle for help, but Hoggle is being confronted by Jareth, who gives him a peach to give Sarah, before threatening to send him to the Bog of Eternal Stench if she ever kissed him. Back in the woods, Sarah is attacked by a group of creatures with detachable body parts but when they try to remove Sarah’s head, she manages to get away from them and is saved by Hoggle. When Sarah thanks Hoggle by kissing him, they both find themselves in the Bog of Eternal Stench. As they make their way through the bog, they are reunited with Ludo and try to cross a nearby bridge, but they are stopped by the bridge’s guard, Sir Didymus. After Sir Didymus and Ludo fight to a draw, Sir Didymus gives them permission to cross the bridge, but when Sarah tries to cross, the bridge falls apart, leaving her dangling over the bog by a tree branch. Ludo uses his ability to summon rocks to rescue Sarah and they cross the bog, accompanied by Sir Didymus, who rides upon his trusty steed, a sheep dog named Ambosious. As they continue on, they all begin to grow hungry and Hoggle gives Sarah the peach, then leaves as the peach begins to erase Sarah’s memories. Jareth sends some orbs out to Terry, causing her to dream that she is at a ball and Jareth is proclaiming his love to her, but she resists the dream and escapes, winding up into a junkyard. She meets an old Junk Lady, who tries to trick Sarah into thinking all she wanted was her old memories and forget about Toby, but Sarah, remembers Toby and, with the help of Ludo and Sir Didymus, is able to escape from the Junk Lady, and reach the outskirts of the Goblin City. As they enter the city, they are attacked by a large automaton but Hoggle arrives and manages to save them and though he doesn’t expect it, he is surprised when Sarah and the others forgive him and they make their way through the city. They reach the castle but the Goblin King has sent his army of goblins to deal with them and when they find themselves trapped, Ludo uses his power to summon an army of rocks to help deal with the goblins. Reaching the castle, Sarah tells her friends that she has to face Jareth alone but promises to call for them if she needs them. Sarah enters a maze-like room of stairs (much like an M.C. Escher picture) where she sees Jareth and Toby. When she comes face to face with Jareth, he tries to convince her to listen to him but Sarah begins to recite the lines from her play, ending with the final line “You have no power over me” as the time runs out. Sarah and Toby are brought back to the real world, where Sarah, realizing that Toby is important to her, gives him her teddy bear, Lancelot. Back in her room, Sarah sees Ludo, Sir Didymus, and Hoggle saying goodbye in her mirror but when she says that she will always need them in her life, they, along with several other creatures that she met in the labyrinth, appear in her room and begin to celebrate, while outisde, Jareth, in his barn owl form, watches through the window before flying off.
Labyrinth was met with mixed reviews from the critics, currently holding a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The general consensus towards the movie is that “While it’s arguably more interesting on a visual level, Labyrinth provides further proof of director Jim Henson’s boundless imagination.” Unfortunately, Labyrinth was not a success at the box office, only earning over $12 million off of a $27 million budget. This would be the last feature film that Jim Henson directed before his death and though he was demoralized by the poor performance in theaters, he did see that it had garnered a cult following when it was released on video and knew that it was appreciated.
Another Jim Henson movie, another movie for me to enjoy. Both Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie were good in this movie, especially there interactions with the various puppets, but I think Connelly gave a better performance than Bowie. The story was pretty good, kind of parodying a classic fairy tale but giving it Henson’s own twist as to the character’s looks and designs. The puppetry and filming were pretty good for most of the movie, except for the scene involving the creatures with detachable parts, as the rear screen filming there did not look as clean. I will be honest, the only thing that bothered me was that there was more singing than I expected. In a Muppets movie, I expect a couple of songs. But since Bowie was in this movie, I figured there would probably be one song, and the song where Sarah was hallucinating was perfect but the others just seemed to be a bit of filler material. But that is just my gripe. Aside form that, this is a fun movie to watch, whether you are a kid or an adult.
Rating: 4 out of 5