Labyrinth (1986) Review

After the lukewarm reception to his previous fantasy endeavour, ‘The Dark Crystal’, director Jim Henson made a number of changes to his next feature. With these alterations Henson hoped to win over audience members who were left confused and frighted by the melancholic and other worldly ‘Crystal’.
Jennifer Connelly stars as Sarah, a 15-year-old girl obsessed with the eponymous fantasy novel 'Labyrinth' and its protagonist The Goblin King (David Bowie). When unwillingly left to care for her incessantly crying baby brother Toby, she jokingly wishes for The Goblin King to come and take him away to his kingdom. Sure enough, he and his band of goblins dutifully grants her wish. With the child now missing Sarah realises the terrible mistake she has made. Bravely setting forth into the dangerous world of the Labyrinth, she agrees to a dangerous pact, one that if she loses, will result in Toby and possibly herself being trapped inside forever.

The second we enter the vast Labyrinth the movie really takes off, as each new scene brings a tantalising task for Sarah to complete. There are numerous tricks and trials, from walls hiding hidden passages, to talking door knockers. Aiding her in this arduous endeavor are a band of wildly colourful puppet characters from the diminutive, cantankerous Hobble, to the loyal monster, Ludo
With help from producer George Lucas and collaborators Laura Phillips and Elaine May, Henson deliberately lightened the tone of the film from the darker script delivered by 'Monty Python' stalwart Terry Jones. This was due to the casting of David Bowie, who insisted that more humour be added to the final script. Bowie also provided a suitably camp performance and a number of lively dance numbers. The most memorable of these being the catchy, Dance Magic Dance, a wonderfully choreographed number that has Bowie and a room full of goblins leaping about to entertain the captive Toby.

Unfortunately the film was another box office failure, grossing only $12,729,917, well under its $25 million budget. Later in the growing VHS market of the late '80s, early '90s, it finally found it rightful home, along with a vast array of new fans. 'Labyrinth' would also be Henson’s final feature, before his unexpected death at the age of 53.
Although not as coherent story wise as 'Crystal', it does have way more nostalgia value for fans, myself included. Like a warm bath at the end of a hard day, 'Labyrinth' is pure comfort and joy.