Film Review: ‘Labyrinth’ (1986)

By Tyler Bridges. Published September 10, 2020.

People have been raving about this modern fairy tale as long as I can remember, but I never got around to watching it until now. I was worried it would not meet the hype – although the hype was usually, “OMG, Bowie in tight pants!” That’s enough to get anyone interested.

My first impressions weren’t great. I was thoroughly unimpressed with the ‘woe is me’ attitude of Sarah, our protagonist. She was such a stereotypical spoilt brat and her vendetta against a baby seemed so stupid. What could a baby have done to make your life so miserable?

I was happily surprised, though, as her character showed compassion and had a steadily growing character arc. She actually turned out to be pretty bright too, so I feel kind of bad for underestimating her.

I was also worried when I started this film that the poor 80s effects were going to be a massive let-down, but for the time, (most of) the effects were actually not too bad. There were some very stereotypical film techniques used, but they still brought to life this magical other world. It was creepy at times and enchanting at others. The use of puppets, as opposed to what would have been dodgy animation at that time, was also a stroke of genius by director (and Muppets creator) Jim Henson. The fantasy creatures were not all glammed up and fabulous, making them, in a sense, more realistic in this dystopian fairy tale.

Bowie breaking into creepy songs, yet still so beautiful, also just screamed 80s (in a good way). Normally I am not a fan of random music in films; if you’re going to randomly sing, you’d better in be a full musical or a Disney movie, but this just worked for me.

The only thing I could seriously fault in this film was the disturbing romance between the Goblin King and Sarah. Age gaps in films is a big thing I have been noticing lately, and have been super creeped out by. Not only is this guy basically her dad’s age while she is 16, he is the bad guy who KIDNAPS HER BABY BROTHER! It’s just a bit too far for me and my innocence.

As creepy as it is, Bowie’s predatory (and I would go so far as to say sadistic) performance is amazing. It makes you fall in love with him and his musical talent all over again.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the film and would watch it again, even if it was just for the singing and tight pants.

Score: 4 stars. (One point deducted for creepy romance.)

Join UNSA’s watch party this Friday at 7:30pm to watch our next film, V for Vendetta.

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