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I finally watched Labyrinth. It's weird.


Check this one off as "probably will never watch again".

Labyrinth, a movie from 1986, is one of those flicks that I'm surprised my parents didn't take me to see at the time it was released. They totally would have because I was right in the age group this movie was made for at the time.

I'm thinking mom and dad didn't take me to see the movie because they usually only would do that for movies I'd ask to watch. I know I didn't ask to see this one. Why? The television ads and the trailer.

Nothing in the TV ads nor the trailer from '86 promoting the movie had anything my child self would care about. They show some girl running around, no space adventure, no laser beams, no comedy. Upon seeing that, my kid brain would have immediately said "nope". When the nope happens, I never ask to see the movie, and that is why I didn't see this movie at the time it was released.

Why did I watch this now? Mainly because there are many who say this is one of the best fantasy movies of the 1980s, if not the best fantasy movie ever made. Spoiler alert: It's not. Labyrinth is nowhere near as good as The Princess Bride. Not even close.

The best thing I can say about Labyrinth is that it is, surprisingly, not terrible. I was sure it was going to be, but I was able to watch the whole thing.

I'll get the negative stuff out of the way first.

The biggest problem Labyrinth has is the exact same problem The Dark Crystal has (a movie I truly love) in that the more fantastic the environment, the more the story suffers. Oh yes, you get a visual feast where the creatures, sets, lighting, voices, environments and so on are all amazing, but the story is kinda garbage.

This flick starts with a giant plot hole. If Sarah, the definition of Rich Pretty Girl With Problems, says certain magic words, the goblins come and take her little brother away. Why? That's never answered.

It gets even worse, because you're thinking, "Oh, okay.. the whole movie is supposed to be a dream sequence thing, she'll wake up at the end, and that will explain everything, right?" WRONG. Not only does the film leave a giant plot hole in the beginning but doubles down on that about 3/4 of the way through the movie by more or less outright saying no, it's not a dream sequence (specifically in the "junk" scene). In this movie, Rich Pretty Girl With Problems can make goblins/monsters appear with just words, and she can transport to some other dimension because magic. Also, she or the goblins/monsters can exist in the real world or the other dimension because magic magic magic, magic magic. That's the explanation.

Some may argue it's the owl that causes the magic to happen. Nope. The goblins are shown before the owl even gets to the house. Again, no explanation given for the goblins just appearing. They just do. And that is just one of several plot holes.

In other words, you have to suspend your disbelief a lot right from the get-go.

Now the good stuff:

David Bowie as Jareth is the reason to watch this movie. I was pleasantly surprised with Bowie's acting in that it was decent. I could tell he actually cared about his role, really gave it his all and was having fun doing it. Before watching this movie, I was certain he'd a terrible actor. Instead, he was very competent and the Jareth character went through a range of emotions, sort of like a "villain with a heart". It worked well enough. I say "enough" because the garbage story made the villain's motives hazy as best.

The best fantasy character is Sir Didymus, no question. Wonderfully voiced, performed in a very Muppet-style way and genuinely entertaining to watch.

Costume and creature design were, of course, great.

I like the fact some of the sets used in the movie were large; this gave a good sense of depth to the fantasy world.

I finally watched it. It's done.

Labyrinth is one of those movies I've been avoiding for a long time because I sincerely believed I'd hate it.

I didn't hate it.

But I didn't like it either.

Again, the best thing I can say about the movie is that it's not terrible.

Published 2023 Mar 16

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