Sunday, 10 August 2008

Recycled Review: Labyrinth

Heckler and I were at the Great British Beer Festival on Thursday[1] and sadly Starship Troopers 3: Marauder isn't out in the UK or we would definitely have watched it when we crawled back to Sten's flat [2]. But that's no reason not to put up some content. I previously said I would put up my thoughts on Labyrinth (1986, Dir:Jim Henson, trailer). Here's what is in my note book:

She's wearing jeans under that medieval frock
Don't say "David Bowie" 3 times
Sten is a rubbish Goblin King (He doesn't wear enough makeup)
Not the Bog of Eternal Stench!
Is that all it does? Smell?
There's a horrible bitey thing on a stick! And it's biting another goblin's arse!
Heckler sleeps with Antonio Banderas[3]
Babies: not evil, just incontinent.

The film's been out for 20 years, so I won't recap here. I'm just going to touch on why I think this film is an improvement on Jim Henson's previous puppet fantasy The Dark Crystal (reviewed at Heckler and Kochk!). 2 main performances (Sarah the heroine[4] and Jared the Goblin King[5]) are played by live actors. Most of the rest of the cast are puppets. This emphasizes the difference between the real world and the goblin world, and between the run of the mill goblins and Jared, the tall, good-looking, androgynous rock-god-king.

There's songs (many of them written and performed by Bowie). Sarah grows up and learns something. There's some real scary bits. And, with all due respect the Sten, Bowie nails the whole goblin king thing - the combination of attractive, scary and unpredictable all at once is just right. The labyrinth itself sometimes looks a bit like an illustration in a book, but that's mainly because, as it turns out, it is.

Jim Henson obviously learnt from The Dark Crystal and built on that, with good results. As we know, it didn't do too well at the box office, but it's had a long tail with video and DVD. And I can see why - I now feel like watching it again...

[1] It sounds like we're inseparable and live in each other's pockets; I assure you that is not the case.
[2] Good Point (for fans of the book): Armoured suits make an appearance
Good Point (for me): Some theology makes an appearance
Good Point (faint praise): It's better than Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation
Bad Points: The rest of the film
[3] This was byplay, not related to the film
[4] Jennifer Connelly, who went on to win an Oscar in 2002
[5] David Bowie, in one of the two non-human roles that he absolutely nails.

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