Labyrinth 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Of all the movie lines I quoted from my favorite childhood movies, the first part of David Bowie’s song Magic Dance, might just be one of my favorites ever. It could be because I have fond memories of watching this movie over and over again when I was young, or my fascination with the Goblin King (which is all I knew David Bowie as at that time) but it’s probably because of the creep-tastic puppets that did the dance and sang with David Bowie during this scene. Looking back, I’m not sure how I was able to sleep through the nights with the puppets from LABYRINTH as well as THE DARK CRYSTAL stalking around my subconscious, ready to pounce at any time. Re-watching these films as an adult has made me wonder how in the world I watched those two films over and over again, but they were staples from my childhood and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only child of the 80’s who can say that.
LABYRINTH follows Sarah’s (a young Jennifer Connelly) adventure to save her little brother from the Goblin King (David Bowie) after she wishes that he would be taken away. To rescue her sibling, Sarah has to venture through a life-sized maze filled with creatures who are either friend or foe. She only has 13 hours to make it through the labyrinth before the Goblin King will keep the infant forever. So to put that plot in perspective, this is a children’s movie about a demented older man that kidnaps a young boy and then torments a young girl for fun.
It’s hard to believe that LABYRINTH has been around for 30 years and has become a cult classic that is referenced fairly often now days. If it was rebooted today it would be made with CGI and spectacular scenery and choreography, but because it was made 30 years ago with puppets, the charm and quirkiness of the film will live on forever. Can you imagine watching a film today where the majority of the main characters were life-sized puppets that did juggling tricks with their heads? It might be considered a horror film, but director Jim Henson managed to make the weirdest creatures in this film a little lovable, even when they were scream-inducing.
One of the best things about revisiting old films like LABYRINTH is seeing a Hollywood big wig in their youth. Although Jennifer Connelly did a great job, it was David Bowie who stole the film and made the Goblin King one of the coolest and most iconic characters in cinematic history. His hair, makeup and high cheekbones made the Goblin King memorable, vulnerable and just plain awesome.
It’s always hard to review one of these classic films, especially when it holds such a dear place in many people’s hearts. There are a lot of films out there that don’t deserve to get special anniversary editions, but I don’t think LABYRINTH is on that list. I personally can’t watch it as often as I used to, but it’s still a blast to go back every couple of years and be enchanted by that Goblin King and his crew of creepy dancing minions.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: To start, this is an incredible video transfer from Sony given the film is 30 years old. We learn via an insert in the disc that this 4K transfer was straight from the 35mm source and it definitely shows. I never noticed the details in the puppets before and the film has a depth that I’ve never experienced, which made it feel like I was watching it for the first time. That said, this is a 30 year old film and the 4K transfer heightens some of the grain that was saturated in the Blu-ray of the film. This is similar to what happened with the 4K transfers of Zack Snyder’s films, where the grain is much more noticeable. That’s not a detractor, but it’s worth noting.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos track is pretty great, which surprised me because I never think of LABYRINTH as being a sound-impressive film.
There are no 4K exclusive features on this disc, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
The disc does include these special features, which were on the original Blu-ray release: Commentary with Brian Froud, Inside The Labyrinth Making of Documentary, Journey Through the Labyrinth: Kingdom of Characters, Journey Through the Labyrinth: The Quest for the Goblin City and The Storytellers – Picture in Picture.
Reordering Time: Looking Back at Labyrinth (9:30): Various cast and crew (including Jennifer Connelly) share memories of working on the film.
The Henson Legacy (10:35): A continuation of the previous feature, with the same participants, talk about how great Jim Henson was.
Remembering the Goblin King (4:45): And once again, the same group talk about how great David Bowie was.
Anniversary Q&A (41:25): Adam Savage coordinates a Q&A with some Muppeteers as they discuss puppets, Labyrinth and take audience questions.