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Fifteen-year-old Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is so resentful of her baby brother Toby that she hopes he will just disappear. Her dream becomes reality when goblins kidnap the boy--but Sarah unexpectedly finds herself horrified by the loss. So she sets forth to retrieve him, and finds herself on the adventure of a lifetime. To accomplish her task, she will somehow have to reach the center of the fantastical labyrinth where the wicked Goblin King (David Bowie, who performs two songs) has imprisoned the lad. But the task is easier said than done, for the maze is filled with strange creatures and mind-bending puzzles that confuse the girl. Directed by Jim Henson and penned by Monty Python's Terry Jones, 'Labyrinth' is a distinctive, beautifully designed dark fantasy for all ages.
For more about Labyrinth and the Labyrinth Blu-ray release, see Labyrinth Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 18, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Jim Henson
Writers: Terry Jones, Dennis Lee, Jim Henson
Starring: David Bowie (I), Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud, Shelley Thompson, Brian Henson, Christopher Malcolm
» See full cast & crew
Labyrinth Blu-ray Review
Order this disc in the next 13 hours...or else!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 18, 2009
I think I'm getting smarter!
The final feature directed by the legendary Jim Henson before his death, Labyrinth is a glitzy, glamorous, and rollickingly fun Fantasy film that doesn't match for story his other well-known puppeteering masterpiece, The Dark Crystal, though Labyrinth does one-up the 1982 classic in a number of other areas, notable among them the immaculately-designed puppets that populate the film. Though still a dark story with traditional motifs and characters, Labyrinth does well to lend a lighter side to the proceedings. Song and dance, comedy, and action all blend into the overreaching Fantasy story arc, and to very good effect. It's clear from the beginning that Labyrinth sets out to deliver a good old time at the movies, and it doesn't disappoint. Escapist entertainment in the truest sense, Labyrinth brings to life a world that's the stuff of dreams, a world populated by good and evil and cuddly and scary characters where rhymes and riddles and danger and laughs all await those that dare enter into its inviting yet perilous and altogether fantastical world.
Young Sarah (Jennifer Connelly, Requiem For a Dream) finds herself frustrated with the prospect of once again babysitting her infant brother Toby while her parents spend a night out on the town. A fan of Fantasy fiction, she wishes the goblins of her books to take Toby forever. Little does she realize they're listening, and they're in a taking mood. With the words spoken, a crying Toby vanishes from his crib. Enter the Goblin King Jareth (singer David Bowie) who strikes a deal with a suddenly-regretful Sarah: maneuver through the labyrinthine maze outside his castle in under 13 hours, and Toby will be returned to her unharmed. Accepting the challenge, Sarah enters the maze with a confidence that's soon shattered. Seemingly unable to escape its first passageway, she learns from a local resident -- a colorful, talking worm -- that "things are not always what they seem" in the labyrinth. Finally able to move past the first passageway, Sarah finds herself in trouble but soon teams up with a dwarf-like creature named Hoggle that promises to help Sarah but doesn't come off as all that trustworthy. Along the way, Sarah's contingent grows; she teams up with a pitiful but powerful beast named Ludo and a pint-sized Musketeer-sort named Sir Didymus. With the clock running down and the challenges within the labyrinth growing all the more complex and dangerous, Sarah risks it all to recover her brother and maintain her new friendships along the way.
The world of Labyrinth is one populated by a host of fascinating characters; it's a rare movie where even tertiary characters with but a few fleeting moments of screen time enjoy such a robust and memorable presence thanks in large part to the fantastic designs of Brian Froud, who also lent his talent to The Dark Crystal. Froud's characters spring to life in every frame, each one not only well-designed and fun to look at, but well-played and voiced behind-the-scenes. Froud lends to the characters a broad spectrum of appearances, ranging from small and colorful to hulking and metallic. Characters are not limited to the standards of the real world; they're integrated into doors, built into brick fašades, and protrude from the sides of a deep, dark hole. Unlike The Dark Crystal where but a few species of slightly varied appearances exist, Labyrinth truly allows for the creative minds behind-the-scenes to shine. On the other side of the ledger, the film's pair of primary adult human performers -- Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie -- deliver the goods. Connelly does well to convey thoughts -- both hers and the audience's -- as she initially stumbles through the maze, talking to herself and trying to figure out where she is and how it can take her to where she needs to be. Her effort is breezy and sure, and she gains a confidence that serves her well as the film moves on to the climax. Bowie, too, delivers a cheerful effort as a villain that's done a dastardly deed but has so much sinister fun in the process that it's hard not to like the character on some level.
Aside from a cast of puppet and human characters, Labyrinth's most notable feature, particularly when viewing the film in retrospect nearly a quarter-century after its theatrical debut, is its decidedly 1980s flair. No doubt about it, Labyrinth is a product of the big hair, glitzy era, and nary a frame goes by that audiences aren't inundated with 1980s goodness. The film's soundtrack takes on a syntho-electric beat, and its several song-and-dance numbers -- those with David Bowie singing and dancing in particular -- cannot help but engender an instant flashback to the era. Fortunately, however, both the score and the Bowie-written songs withstand the test of time and fit right in with the film's era-influenced visuals. The labyrinth's walls are plenty sparkly and glittery, and oh by the way, the 80s called, and it wants David Bowie's hair back. It all adds a charm to the movie that, yes, does date it terribly, but the material nevertheless holds up remarkably well nevertheless.
Labyrinth Blu-ray, Video Quality
This Blu-ray release of Labyrinth features an a-maze-ing 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. The image sports plenty of film grain and early scenes in particular contain some scratches, pops, and other assorted debris, but it cleans up nicely as the film moves along. The image on the whole takes on an ever-so-slightly dulled appearance, with colors never approaching eye-popping levels but nevertheless appearing nicely rendered and fitting in well with the overall look and feel of the movie. Depth is strong, and fine detail is moderately impressive. The fine textures on the puppets and the rough and glittery stone walls of the labyrinth, for example, beg to be touched. The transfer fares best during bright, daylight outdoor scenes inside the labyrinth. The green foliage that lines its walls takes on a very natural appearance, and the transfer reveals a nice level of visible detail in both the greenery and the stone walls and floors that are also present in several similar scenes. As with The Dark Crystal, the 1080p image allows viewers to plainly see several of the strings holding up objects and characters, including Jennifer Connelly herself in one shot. Backgrounds flicker in a few places, black levels offer a nice and inky texture in subterranean scenes, and flesh tones remain a fairly accurate shade throughout. Labyrinth doesn't make for a striking eye candy sort of transfer, but it does feature a solid film-like appearance that does the movie justice. Another job very well done by Sony.
Labyrinth Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Labyrinth winds onto Blu-ray with a strong Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The track plays out as crisp, clean, and clear as soon as it gets started; the music that plays over the opening credits effortlessly spills into the back channels, though the bulk of the material is heard across the big three in the front half of the soundstage. The track also does well to place sound effects all about the listening area; it creates a very nice and realistic sense of atmosphere throughout. Thunder gently rolls in the background early in the film, and croaking frogs invade the listening area in another scene midway through. Action scenes come alive with, again, a strong use of the surround speakers as well as a hearty amount of bass when the scene calls for it. Rounded out by faultless dialogue reproduction, this Blu-ray release of Labyrinth delivers an above-average sonic experience.
Labyrinth Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Labyrinth takes viewers behind the secrets of its world via a strong supplemental section. First up is a commentary track with Conceptual Designer Brian Froud. He begins with a fascinating anecdote, discussing the film's use of digital effects during its title sequence, a stark contrast to the matte paintings and puppets that populate the film the rest of the way out. As the track moves on, Froud concentrates on his characters but also recalls some other tidbits, including shooting locations, set design, character traits, the performance of his son Toby as the infant Toby, and more. The Storytellers Picture-in-Picture features a plethora of information via a small secondary video window. A wide array of participants discuss their roles in the film, including make-up, creature design and physical creation, and puppeteering. 'Inside the Labyrinth' Making-of Documentary (480p, 56:27) is a vintage piece that takes viewers on an in-depth tour into the film's production, with segments focusing on the casting and performances of David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly, puppet design and creation, set design, shooting some of the more dangerous scenes, and much more. Journey Through the Labyrinth: 'Kingdom of Characters' (480p, 27:58) focuses on the creation, personalities, and the process of performing and shooting the puppet characters, and contains some intriguing test footage from early development stages. Journey Through the Labyrinth: 'The Quest for Goblin City' (480p, 30:04) focuses more on the creation of the project, taking viewers through the process of morphing the initial idea into a finished product suitable for filming. Also included is BD-Live functionality and 1080p trailers for The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, Open Season, Open Season 2, Monster House, Surf's Up, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Labyrinth Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
One of the more imaginative films of the past several decades, Labyrinth holds up incredibly well despite its dated look and sound. The story is one that's superficially simple but comes alive thanks to the plethora of memorable characters both human and puppet that populate the film. Competently made, well-written within the confines of its genre, soundly acted, and just a pleasure to watch, Labyrinth is well-deserving of its status as a cult classic. Sony's Blu-ray release breathes new life into this fan favorite. Sporting a strong 1080p transfer, and equally pleasing lossless soundtrack, and a fine array of supplements, this disc is a necessary addition to any fan's collection. Recommended.
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Labyrinth Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - September 29th - September 29, 2009
According to the Library of Congress, the 1939 film adaptation of the American fairy tale 'The Wizard of Oz' is the most watched film of all time. After a mediocre (but successful) theatrical debut, the film gradually obtained an iconic status through re-releases ...
• Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal Officially Announced - July 20, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment have officially announced that they will bring Jim Henson's 'Labyrinth' and 'The Dark Crystal' to Blu-ray on September 29th. The films represent two theatrical releases by the Muppet-master that diverged from his usual cast of characters. ...
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