Where everything seems possible and nothing is what it seems.
After her suburban parents leave her to baby-sit her little brother, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind)—frustrated with life and being a teenager—wishes away her little baby brother. To her surprise, she finds out that her sibling actually has vanished at the hands of the treacherous Goblin King (David Bowie, The Man Who Fell To Earth). The Goblin King lives in some alternate reality in a castle located in the middle of—get this—a gigantic sprawling labyrinth! Being the generous creature that he is, The Goblin King gives Sarah one chance to get her brother back—find her way through the maze in less than 13 hours or the little tyke will become a permanent monster! With little time to spare and lots of dead ends along the way, Sarah attempts to find her way through the labyrinth with the help of some odd creatures/friends. It will take all her might and bravery to face down the Goblin King and retrieve her brother from his evil clutches.
Because of some cosmic lapse, I missed seeing Labyrinth when I was a child. This, I have the feeling, turned out to be a missed opportunity—I have the sneaking suspicion that this film played much better to a 10 year old than it did a grown adult. In a way, Labyrinth is like a companion piece to the far better fantasy film The Dark Crystal—both are filled with wondrous imagery and strange creatures. But that's where the comparisons end. Labyrinth fails to generate half of The Dark Crystal's awe due to two major flaws: 1) the creatures/puppets aren't half as interesting this time around and 2) David Bowie feels the need to break into a song and dance routine every time he's on screen. The film features Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly in one of her first starring roles, and it sure does show—there are no signs here that she'll end up as one of 2003's biggest and brightest stars. Instead, she runs around babbling to herself as if she's in need of someone, anyone to talk to. When she does find someone to talk to it includes an annoying fox-like creature who dresses as a pirate and talks like a rich socialite; a lumbering giant whose vocabulary is, if you can believe it, even more ill-defined than The Incredible Hulk; and a warty creature named Hoggle who is as cowardly as they come. Then there's David Bowie, decked out in a rock star wig that appears to have been purchased for a Halloween party. Strutting around as if he's perpetually looking for Mick Jagger, Bowie has little in the way of screen presence. But give Labyrinth this: the production values are high and costumes and sets top notch. It's just too bad this Jim Henson/Lucasfilm effort is so dang…'80s. Steeped in its own cheesiness and brimming with almost unbearably cloying music, Labyrinth is strictly for nostalgia fans only.
This Superbit edition of Labyrinth is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I have the same feelings about this disc as I did The Dark Crystal: Superbit DVD—while the picture appears to be in good shape, it's by no means good enough to be a Superbit title. There is a fair amount of grain and dirt in the image, along with a slight amount of softness in the picture. Although the colors and black levels are dark and solid, overall this transfer just doesn't cut the butter as a high-end bitrate title. I'm not sure what the original DVD release of this film looked like, but if it's anything like this transfer, it's in only okay shape The soundtrack is presented in a passable Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix, as well as a DTS 5.1 mix, both in English. Either of these tracks will do the job needed, though neither is overly exciting. Each mix sports a few well placed directional effects and surround sounds, most notable in Trevor Jones' music score of Bowie's mind-numbingly bad rock numbers. All aspects of the mix are free and clear of excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles.
Wading through the maze of supplements on this disc took all of three seconds…because there aren't any. Following suit with the rest of Columbia's Superbit titles, Labyrinth doesn't include a single extra feature.
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