Movie #235 2020: Labyrinth (1986)

Before we get on with Labyrinth, a.k.a. ‘David Bowie‘s Crotch: The Movie’, here’s how it’s gonna work round here from now on.

With lockdown restrictions being gradually relaxed in the UK, I am back to work at my full time job. Alas, that means that I can’t dedicate all of my time and effort to watching movies and writing about them as much as I would like to. Henceforth, posts here will now be every three days or so, dependent on my free time. If I could make this my only job, believe me, I would. But needs must, and I write each and every one of these posts of my own accord and with zero pay, so I’m sure you’ll understand, if you’re even reading this at all.

Anyway, on to the classic movie that is 1986’s Labyrinth!

When Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is forced to go on a wild adventure in order to rescue her baby brother, she quickly learns that he has been kidnapped by the Goblin King, who so happens to be brought to life than the late, great David Bowie. Suddenly, Sarah realises that it is not going to be so easy as just picking him up from daycare and bringing him back when she stumbles upon a mystical, fantasy world in which she must solve a humongous labyrinth and meet many weird and wonderful creatures along the way.

Firstly, this film – along with his quirky role in Christopher Nolan‘s mind-bending magical drama, The Prestige – this movie confirms that David Bowie is the coolest man to have ever lived. Sure, the acting is really wooden at times (and not always only from Bowie) but even so, this is a good cast. It’s easy to see why Jennifer Connelly has had a long, successful career since, and thankfully the characters are likeable enough for the iffy performances not to matter so much.

As one would expect from the nineteen eighties, the special effects here are aptly dated and definitely don’t look spectacular in this day and age, but again, that really doesn’t matter either. Factor the whimsical charm of the movie into it, and consider that the puppets are so well made (thank you, Jim Henson), and it’s still a visual feast depite not always immersing itself into realism.

Sadly, as someone who didn’t grow up with this movie, I just didn’t get the point of it all. Of course one can understand that this is a children’s adventure story but the plot is really flimsy somehow. There’s a lot of whimsy, and each hand-controlled character is borderline creepy and intriguing, but the whole thing seems extremely elongated in order to fill a feature-length picture’s run time. It’s no wonder why this is considered a cult classic, but it feels like you had to be there at the time to really get the full effect. 

Would young kids these days, who are so attuned and used to CGI and hyper-realistic settings like the one in Alita: Battle Angel, enjoy this? I’m going to place my bets on a firm no. In fact, they’d probably find it laughable. However, for its nostalgic value and charm, eighties kids will probably still look on Labyrinth with a certain sense of fondness.

Saying all this and despite the fact that it was not my most favourite movie of all time, I still want the sequel that’s apparently going ahead. With Janelle Monae as the Goblin King only. Honestly, think about it. Can you think of a single other person who would do that character justice? She moves with all the swagger of her mentor, Prince, and can bust out a tune or two in the process, not to mention that her acting ability is proving to be a forced to be reckoned with. Monae is a true triple-threat.

Before this turns into a Monae-fest, it has to be said that Labyrinth has clearly passed its sell-by date. However, it is definitely and correctly remembered with loving endearment from those who witnessed it in its prime.

Labyrinth is available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV in the UK.

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