Ossus Library Index Fantasy Movie Index


Directed by Jim Henson (1986, Tristar Pictures)
Starring Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie

A girl sends her brother to the King of the Goblins, then winds her way through a maze to get him back.  On the journey, she learns lessons about herself and life.



4 stars

September 8th, 2012 on DVD for the 5th time  

I still love this movie, and thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. The message is clear, and the action is fun, though it does slow down at a couple of points.

I was bothered, this time, at the very beginning, where the audio seemed to be offset slightly from the video. I've never noticed this before, but it's the first time I've seen the movie on an HD television, so that might have something to do with it. Otherwise- wonderful.



4 stars

August 7th, 2003 on DVD for the 4th time  

Really quite enjoyable. I love the characters, all of which seemed so real.

There are only two complaints that I have about this movie. The first is about David Bowie's pants. I'm sure people loved it in the 1980s, but I couldn't watch! His dancing needed some work, as well. He looked like he was in a night-club.

The second complaint is about the "chilly-down" guys. The matte lines were still visible in the DVD release, though not as bad as they were on the video. The background really looks out of place. They had done stuff like that on Star Wars. I don't know why they couldn't get it right here.

Aside from that, and the ability to see some of the wires holding Jennifer Connelly in the air at times, the technical side of this movie is flawless. I couldn't believe some of the stuff that they were able to achieve. The climactic scene in the 3D optical illusion was just mesmerizing. But everywhere else in the film, something is always going on. There are very few static shots at all.

The character of Sarah is beautiful and bright. I can't believe Connelly was only 14 when this was made, because she looks much older. Her acting, however, was just as good here as it was when she won an Academy Award for A Beautiful Mind. Sarah just doesn't want to live in the real world. When put into the fantasy world of goblins, biting fairies and stinking bogs, though, she has to come to terms with the fact that her actions have consequences -though not necessarily the ones that she expects.

Hoggle was also great, and so ugly that he was so cute! He was also very, very real. He goes through an emotional journey that takes him from a cowardly disinterested person to a true friend, willing to follow Sarah through danger. I loved his lesson to her on asking the right questions.

Speaking about asking the right questions, I just laugh whenever I think of the old man with the chicken on his head. The interplay between those two was hilarious, especially the sarcasm of the chicken! Other great arguments were between the doorknobs, the "ask only one of us a question" guards, and Sir Didymus and his dog!

The story is a great adventure. I loved just about everything that she came into contact with on her journey. Some of it was unexpected, most of it was "not fair". The worm at the very start was terrific.

The documentary that accompanies the DVD was one of the best that I've seen on various movies, meaning that it wasn't simply promotional material. It said that it was a behind the scenes feature, and it actually was! It showed how they did certain of the amazing visual effects, showed discussions between people on how certain scenes should be done, and actually showed footage of the movie being filmed. Wonderful! There are also filmographies of a few of the people, as well as movie trailers for this film, The Dark Crystal, and another Henson production. I don't know why trailers were so bad in the 1980s. Aside from not being restored, so that the colors are way off, they were completely boring, a terrible offence!

However, seeing this great movie in widescreen, with the restored color schemes, was amazing. This film takes advantage of the widescreen in so many instances, that I can't imagine how it could be truly enjoyed any other way.




January 2nd, 2000 on Video, for the 3rd time  

I used to love this movie.  When it first came out, I thought it was great.  Unfortunately, it didn't age as well as I thought it would.  It was still very, very enjoyable, and well deserving of a four-star rating, but the acting wasn't up to the great level I remember, and some of the dialogue was stilted.  Maybe that comes from growing myself.  Also, David Bowie's singing annoyed me a little more this time around.  Well, we're not in the 1980s anymore.

The maze is really well done.  I love the way Sara has to navigate through it, suddenly realizing that the maze is alive, and changing every time she turns a corner. 

She goes through so many traps, some of which are typical fantasy traps, and others seem so dangerous, or fun -or funny!  I love the helping hands, and especially the doorknobs. 

Of course, we have Sara's two friends, Hoggle the dwarf and Ludo the... whatever he is.  Hoggle is a great character -cowardly, but with an inner strength borne out of love for this strange girl.  Ludo can summon rocks, but he is really a rock for Sarah, and when he disappears, she is lost.

The guys that could throw their heads used to be neat, but now the matte lines show out.  I guess they couldn't fix that for the video re-release.  They just came off as annoying now. 

The Swamp of the Immortal Stench was great.  I love the idea, and to see those flatulating mudholes was a great way to show it off.  Crossing the bridge seemed a little tedious to me this time around, but Sara had to learn how to ask the right questions, so I guess that was okay. 

The forgetful peach was one of the best parts, I thought.  I just loved it, which shows how different I am from the last time I saw this movie, when I didn't like it at all.  The ball was fantastically done, and the lady with all her possessions strapped to her back was quite ominous, and foretold a possible future for Sara. 

This time, I found the goblin city battle to be a little too long.  I didn't like the giant tin man they had to face, and the rocks were not as amusing as I remember them being, though I still laughed at some of it. 

Finally, the battle of wits in the stairwell maze was great as well.  Sure, Bowie was 1980s, but it was still amazingly done.  The look on his face when he is defeated says it all. 

I didn't think the final party was necessary, but it did serve to show Sara what she needed to know, though I'm not sure her hold on reality is strengthened as much as it would be if she couldn't call upon them.  I think her final lesson should have been to focus more on the actual world around her, pay attention, and don't take it all for granted.  But it makes for a nice reunion, and a celebration.

All in all, Sarah gets to know that she is actually a spoiled brat, and that she can achieve anything if she looks in the right direction.


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