3 stars (out of four)
Jim Henson--master of Muppets, family moviemaker extraordinaire and the voice of Kermit the Frog--left behind a pretty terrific movie/TV legacy. "Labyrinth," which Landmark is reviving in a new 35 mm print, is one of the more dazzling films in his canon. The movie, a pip, stars Jennifer Connelly (at 15) as suburban dream-girl Sarah and David Bowie as the rock star Goblin King, Jareth, who takes advantage of Sarah's boring baby-sitting night to kidnap her little brother, Toby, and carry him away to his goblin castle at the center of the huge maze that gives the movie its name. Soon, Sarah is on her way to rescue Toby and, like Wonderland's Alice or Oz's Dorothy, she picks up some fantastic chums along the way--including grouchy old gnome Hoggle (voiced by Brian Henson), slow-witted monster Ludo (Ron Mueck) and fiery half-pint knight Sir Didymus (David Shaughnessy).
Knocked in its day, "Labyrinth" is not especially original in plot or story line. The script, by Monty Pythonite Terry Jones, deliberately cribs from "The Wizard of Oz," "Alice in Wonderland" and Maurice Sendak's "Outside Over There," and Henson makes sure we see L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll and Sendak titles on Sarah's library shelves. But it's a real masterpiece of puppetry and special effects, an absolutely gorgeous children's fantasy movie. Bowie also wrote and sings much of the score, which makes "Labyrinth" cooler than most family fare. And we can be glad that Bowie won this part. Also up for the role was Michael Jackson, a piece of casting that would have made "Labyrinth" hard to watch today.
Running time: 1:41. Opens Friday at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times