Eye For Film >> Movies >> Labyrinth (1986) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Have you ever made a wish and then regretted it? Most of us do when we're teenagers, and young Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is no exception. She's a fantasy fan who wants to spend her time on serious things like posing moodily in long white dresses and reciting poetry, not babysitting for her annoying baby brother. But when she wishes that the goblins would come and take him away, she gets more than she bargained for. Instantly regretting her actions and determined to save him, she challenges the glamorous Goblin King - if she can make it through his magical labyrinth before the clock strikes midnight, she can win back the child. But the labyrinth is full of surprises and the Goblin King has no intention of playing fair.
As far as sheer inventive fantasy is concerned, Labyrinth is up there with the best of them. It has a great cast of supporting characters supplied by Muppets creator Jim Henson's legendary creature workshop, plus some stunning sets including one based on the work of MC Escher. Far more than a traditional maze, the labyrinth contains a series of fantastic landscapes and perilous puzzles.
But this is also a story about growing up, in which Sarah must learn to set aside her vanity and desire for attention and learn to take on real responsibility if she wants to reach her goal. It is here that it falters as, like Sarah, it sways back and forth between childishness and more complex adult themes. There are many scenes delightful to young children which older viewers will find shallow and gimmicky, whilst the younger ones will be left puzzled and bored by the strange romance between Sarah and her enemy.
The film is most famous, of course, because the Goblin King is played by David Bowie, and because he wears a pair of tights which leave very little to the imagination (if you're not sure what I mean, check out the dedicated website Bowie's Area). This is quite sufficient to keep many fans watching it over and over again. Bowie also supplies the soundtrack, which, though not his strongest work, does give the film a little extra something. His commitment to making it work even extended to providing the baby noises (impossible to guess) when the child star failed to cooperate.
Beyond this, the real stars of the show are the goblins themselves, gloriously ugly and gruesome, characters who will give children real scares yet whom they will find themselves able to identify with at the same time, especially if they love mischief. The big goblin battle near the end is great fun. It's just a shame that the film lacks the consistency to maintain this level of energy all the way through.Reviewed on: 12 Dec 2009