"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reviews in Brief: Jim Henson's Labyrinth

I picked Jim Henson's Labyrinth up for a steep discount, for which I am eternally grateful, and on the basis of my memory of an engaging and delightful film. Well.

For those not familiar with the story, Sarah is stuck babysitting her baby brother Toby again, and he won't stop crying. She tries telling a story, and that doesn't work. She finally makes a wish that the goblins will steal him. It takes three tries, but she finally gets it right. (Did I mention that Sarah tends to live in a fantasy world?) The Goblin King appears and tells her that unless she rescues Toby from his castle, at the middle of a labyrinth, within thirteen hours, he will keep the child. So of course, Sarah sets off on her quest.

The big plus on this one is the Henson puppets, which are suitably bizarre and (almost) thoroughly engaging. (Brian Froud did the concept designs for this one, so you know what to expect.) Sadly, everything else is mediocre at best, although Jennifer Connelley as Sarah does move into the role effectively after a bad start. (The first couple scenes are good to skip -- they ring pretty hollow.) I remember David Bowie as the Goblin King being much better than he is this time around, and while I realize if you've got a major rock star in a major role in your major movie, you're going to want to let him sing, in this case he would have been much better off concentrating on his acting -- the songs are not his best efforts, and are actually fairly jarring in context.

It gets pretty repetitive, with Henson and the writer, Terry Jones, seemingly going for weird at the expense of story, and even with the puppets and the weirdness, at some point you've got to rely on the story. Characterizations are pretty shallow, and while there's a certain unreality to the film, it's not the right unreality, if you know what I mean.

If you're about seven, this might make the grade. For anyone older, take a pass.

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