Long before CGI was common in movies, puppetry was one way of bringing fantasy creatures to life -- and few were as famous when it came to puppets than Jim Henson.  While his attempt at fantasy with The Dark Crystal fizzled, Henson more than redeemed himself with Labyrinth, a fantasy film where everything came together almost perfectly.  Labyrinth: 30 Years, from Fathom Events, celebrates the movie's anniversary with a big-screen showing and a few new details about the movie and what happened after.

Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is a 15-year-old girl with a rich fantasy life -- and some pretty typical teenage melodrama.  She's not happy that her fantasy playing is cut short so her father and "wicked" stepmother can go out and Sarah can babysit her baby brother Toby.  And when Toby won't stop crying, Sarah tells her a story about goblins that ends with her wishing the goblins would take him away.

Unfortunately, Sarah's wish is a spell of sorts, and she's immediately visited by Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie), who comes to take Toby away and turn him into a goblin.  When Sarah protests, Jareth makes her a deal: She had thirteen hours to traverse his labyrinth and find Toby at his castle.  If she does, she gets Toby back; if not, Toby becomes another goblin minion of Jareth.
Sarah's dropped into a fantasy world where almost nothing is as it seems.  There are shifting walls, a wide variety of creatures, puzzles, traps, temptations, and the interference of Jareth.  Sarah also finds some oddball allies: Hoggle, a self-proclaimed coward whose allegiance is always varying between Sarah and Jareth; Ludo, a gentle giant beast who can summon rocks and boulders with his cry; and Sir Didymus, a small dog-like knight who uses a dog as his steed.
Just about everything in Labyrinth works.  The young Jennifer Connelly does very well, as her Sarah starts off fairly bratty and selfish but grows along her journey.  David Bowie is absolutely terrific as Jateth: part rock start (there are indeed musical numbers), part seducer, part menace.  And the numerous creatures and entities that populate the labyrinth and very detailed and lifelike -- even if they're speaking walls or critters whose limbs and heads keep bouncing off as they dance.  There are some scares, lots of laughs, and a nice semi-epic journey.  Labyrinth is a delight for both little kids and adults.
Before the movie, the 30 Years special had a documentary about Labyrinth.  This included the surviving folks who worked on the movie fondly remembering Jim Henson and David Bowie, as well as discussing how the movie was made.  They also reveal what happened to most of the puppets used in the movie.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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