With the untimely passing of talented musician David Bowie, we revisit a cult classic of his as an actor, songwriter and performer in the fantasy filled world of ‘Labyrinth’.
The film follows Sarah, a teenage girl who dislikes her parents and her baby brother Toby. Frustrated with the baby stealing her toys, she wishes the Goblin King to take Toby away, but quickly realises that was a mistake, however Jareth the Goblin King puts Sarah to the test in defeating this maze called Labyrinth to get to the castle to save her baby brother.
Upon watching the film, I have never seen ‘Labyrinth’ so I didn’t grow up watching the film like I did with such classics as ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Matilda’. However I have heard a lot about it on various movie shows on the Internet, but when first viewing the film, I thought the movie was bizarre and one of the most weirdest films I had ever seen. Upon watching it the second time for this review, I now knew what I was expecting and noticed the problems I had with this movie, while also highlighting the positives this film has as well.
I usually start with what I thought worked well in the movie, and there’s no denying the creativity that’s on display in this movie. From the painted backdrops that remind me of classic Hollywood films to the rather well designed and constructed sets of the world of Labyrinth, the creative team has done such a wonderful job, as well as the excellent use of puppetry and character design, with the exception of one which I will explain later with the problems of the movie.
The acting is serviceable, as Jennifer Connolly is the main star as she has the most screen time, and does a good job acting in this strange and unusual world, and despite the small screen time with David Bowie’s character, Bowie brings a very good performance as the Goblin King Jareth, creating havoc for Sarah and her friends. Most songs are catchy and entertaining to listen too, with the obvious favourite being “Magic Dance”.
The film also displays some great messages about friendship and not taking things for granted that kids can learn, however these messages can somewhat be a bit forgettable along with the film’s detours along the journey. Some characters just seem like filler, rather than add to the film’s story, such as The Wiseman and the bird, and some scenes that just stall the film, rather than moving it along, such as the staircase musical number being just one long chase and those red monster characters called the Firey being odd both set design, going from practical to this weird compositing shot, which was actually filmed against black velvet cloth during filming, of that practical woods set and doesn’t look good when its joined with the rest of the movie, especially when it goes back to the practical forest set after the musical number, and to the story, adding nothing to the film, and that scene also doesn’t add any fun that later scenes bring, like the village in front of the castle.
Overall, ‘Labyrinth’ is creative, brings some fun and some humorous lines, and its heart is in the right place with some good messages and catchy tunes, however the film feels disjointed and can take some odd detours that just prolong the film’s eventual conclusion.