In Jim Henson’s fantasy, teen Sarah embarks on a life-altering quest to rescue her little brother from the clutches of a treacherous goblin.

Year: 1986
Certificate: U
Director: Jim Henson
Starring: David BowieKevin ClashJennifer ConnellyFrank OzAnthony AsburyDave GoelzBrian HensonRon MueckKaren PrellShari WeiserSteve WhitmireChristopher MalcolmShelley ThompsonRob MillsToby Froud

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Well, this was an absolute treat! I wasn’t planning on reviewing “Labyrinth”, but it popped up as a last minute addition a couple of days ago and got a fair few likes from all you Twitter folk – as well as a previous thumbs up from New On Netflix supremo, MaFt – so I thought I’d give it a go.

The story wastes no time getting to it. Sarah (played by a young Jennifer Connolly) is a fantasy-loving teenager who is left to babysit her infant stepbrother for the evening, much to her frustration. He’s bawling from the moment Sarah’s father and stepmother leave and, instead of comforting him, she makes a wish that the goblins from the play she’s been reading would come and take him away. When her wish comes true, she is visited by Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie) and is told she must journey to the King’s castle in order to save her brother. The only things standing between the two siblings in this newly materialised fantasy world are a 13-hour time limit, a host of trials, and a sprawling labyrinth.

The film is a visual delight. Jim Henson (him of The Muppets) is in the director’s chair and his endless imagination is awe-inspiring. As expected, The Jim Henson Company’s puppet work is incredible. Their designs are all kinds of weird and wonderful. Every single creature is different. Even the multitude of goblin grunts all have their own distinctive features: some are bulbous and bruising, others are ratty and yappy. Every design is crafted with a personality and the prosthetics allow for a level of facial expression that is matched by only the very best computer effects work.

It’s not just the amazing creatures; the whole world Henson creates here is a real marvel. The amazing sets are laced with optical illusions and visual trickery. This inventive production design reaches its pinnacle in a Penrose stairs-inspired finale that would leave Christopher Nolan’s head spinning.

The film’s progressive politics also hold up wonderfully. “Labyrinth” is an unashamed female-driven fantasy adventure in a world of The Goonies-like boy fests. The fact that it’s still a surprise to find a family-friendly adventure movie with a young woman in the lead role is a real shame, but that’s a discussion for another time.

“Labyrinth” is glorious! It’s funny and dark and exciting and strange and boundlessly creative. I wish I’d seen it as a child, because I think it would have been one of 8-year-old Benedict’s ‘best films ever’.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!


About Benedict

Freelance culture journalist and Film Studies graduate. Netflix is his happy place.

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