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I’ve always been a big fan of Jim Henson’s LABYRINTH ($25), ever since I saw the film theatrically back in 1986. LABYRINTH is a beautifully designed and wonderfully magical film designed to appeal to everyone’s inner child. The story of LABYRINTH concerns an imaginative teenage girl named Sarah, who enjoys acting out parts of her favorite fantasy book about a Goblin King and his palace inside a Labyrinth. After arriving home late, Sarah discovers that she has to spend another Saturday evening babysitting her infant stepbrother Toby. When Sarah becomes tired of Toby’s incessant crying, she begins acting out again and wishes that the goblins would come and take the baby away. While the wish is nothing more than Sarah giving voice to her teenage frustration, the goblins do come and take Toby away.

Of course, Sarah is shocked at her brother’s disappearance and immediately tries to take the wish back. However, since a wish is a wish, Jareth- the Goblin King is unwilling to return Sarah’s brother. Jareth does offer Sarah the opportunity to win her brother’s freedom by solving the impenetrable Labyrinth that surrounds his castle. With no other hope of getting Toby back, Sarah accepts the challenge and begins making her way through the magical Labyrinth. Sarah quickly discovers that solving the Labyrinth isn’t going to be an easy task, since it continually changes configuration and is filled with perils designed to keep Sarah from her goal. The Labyrinth is also populated with a number of strange creatures that aid Sarah in her quest, as well as those that try to impede her progress. With LABYRINTH, director Jim Henson has created another fully realized fantasy world that effectively integrates life-sized puppets with human actors. LABYRINTH stars David Bowie as the enigmatic Jareth and Jennifer Connelly as the clever, resourceful Sarah. In addition to portraying Jareth, Bowie also contributed several songs to the film, including the haunting As The World Falls Down.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has made LABYRINTH available on DVD in a superb looking 16:9 enhanced presentation that restores the film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The image is razor sharp and crystal clear; none of the previous video incarnations of LABYRINTH come close to the beauty of this one. The film element used for the transfer is virtually flawless, making LABYRINTH look almost like a brand new movie. Color reproduction of the DVD is very good. Flesh tones for the two human stars appear quite natural, while the rest of the hues are well saturated, without any signs of chroma noise or distortion. The image also boasts inky blacks and very good contrast. First rate DVD authoring keeps digital compression artifacts from becoming noticeable.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround. Dialogue reproduction is clean, however channel separation across the forward soundstage isn’t terribly aggressive for sound effects. It is the musical content of the film’s soundtrack that shines in Dolby Surround. Both David Bowie’s songs and Trevor Jones’ musical score utilize the stereo separation of the front channels, as well the being enhanced by the surrounds. Additionally, the bass component of the track is a bit shallow. The sonic component of LABYRINTH really could have been improved with a brand new 5.1 channel soundtrack. Subtitles have been encoded onto the DVD in English and Spanish.

The interactive menus are fairly basic, but they do deliver access to the scene selection and set up features, as well as the disc’s supplements. Chief amongst the supplements is the hour long "making of" documentary entitled Inside The Labyrinth. The documentary is offers a detailed look at what went into the production of the film and includes on-camera interviews with all the principals. Other supplements include talent files, as well as three trailers, one for LABYRINTH, one for THE DARK CRYSTAL and the final one for THE STORYTELLER.





DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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