Showing posts with label labyrinth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label labyrinth. Show all posts

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Return to Monkey Island

Lucasfilm Games has so much nostalgia for generations of video gamers (myself included).

Rescue on Fractalus!, Ballblazer, Koronis Rift and The Eidolon are amongst my all-time favourite video games from the 8-bit era on Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. And I vividly remember playing Labyrinth: The Computer Game whilst listening to David Bowie and Trevor Jones' soundtrack on cassette (remember those?).

When Lucasfilm Games was rebranded as LucasArts in 1990, it cemented its reputation for point-and-click adventure games and arguably created one of its finest ever examples in the wake of the success of Maniac Mansion in 1987.

The Secret of Monkey Island is one of gaming’s greatest franchises and greatest games full stop. You play as Guybrush Threepwood (an homage to Star Wars' C-3PO), who’s on the quest to become a mighty pirate. Funny, atmospheric and heavily based on Disney’s own Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Now, Return to Monkey Island has been announced for release in 2022. The long-awaited sequel is by Ron Gilbert's Terrible Toybox in collaboration with Devolver Digital and Lucasfilm Games.

I first discovered the point-and-click genre playing LucasArts' Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis on a friend's Amiga A500 in the early nineties - Indy remains lost in a frozen tundra. Years later, I belatedly played Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, The Secret of Monkey Island, Full Throttle and The Dig on an iMac G4.

Are you excited about Return to Monkey Island? What are your favourite LucasArts games? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

35 years of Labyrinth

Labyrinth remains a teenage touchstone and cinematic capsule preserving cherished memories that can be reopened whenever I stream Jim Henson's fan-favourite fantasy film on Netflix.

Sony's celebrating Labyrinth's 35th anniversary with a 4K Blu-ray disc set (affiliate link).

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, faces dangers untold and hardships unnumbered.

Guest post by Nick Smith

While Aliens, Top Gun and Stand By Me all celebrate their 35th anniversary this year, there’s only one film from 1986 that has living cannonballs, talking door knockers and David Bowie songs.

When Labyrinth premiered, it was the latest in an inventive trail of Jim Henson features that included The Muppet Movie and The Dark Crystal. But this one had deeper, more far-reaching themes than Follow That Bird.

I grew up with a younger sister, Becky, who related to the lead character of Sarah (Jennifer Connelly, only 14 years old when she auditioned). Becky marvelled at the friendlier characters in the movie – Ludo (Ron Mueck), Sir Didymus (voiced by David Shaughnessy) – while I enjoyed the Pythonesque wisecracks, written by Terry Jones. His sense of humour seemed to blend perfectly with Henson’s muppet mayhem. I could also relate to Sarah as a resentful babysitter.

It didn’t hurt that the executive producer was George Lucas, the man who had opened my eyes to the fantastical world of filmmaking with Star Wars. So, Labyrinth was as special as a goblin secret whispered to a baby, and its air of hope and innocence seem perfect for the era that spawned it.

As Labyrinth opens, we meet a Sarah who is willful, headstrong and spoiled. She takes too many things for granted and she can’t even remember her lines. She’s got plenty of room to grow and she does, as she enters the realm of the Goblin King (David Bowie) to rescue her infant brother.

Cleverly, director Henson establishes a landscape where a wall can look fake because it is – we’re on a movie set! – and we question what is real and what is true, with some of the characters admitting that they’re liars and others telling Sarah she’s on the wrong track. Sarah is aided by quirky characters like Ludo, Didymus and Hoggle, who all help to add whimsical humour lacking in The Dark Crystal.

Labyrinth is jam-packed with imaginative ideas: the Bog of Eternal Stench, a giant steampunk robot, goblin guards with snapping lizard lances… lest we hail the film for its originality, it must be acknowledged that there are references to and echoes of Maurice Sendak (Outside Over There), Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and artists M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali.

In one scene, King Jareth’s face is formed by rocks, and the film revels in the kind of visual trickery found in Dali paintings like Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach. There’s also the town of the goblins, a delightful exercise in German expressionist architecture.

Beyond the sympathetic characters and creative visuals, there are important themes that gain meaning as time passes for the audience: the inevitable weight of responsibility; the dangers of materialism and hoarding; the allure of fairytales versus the emotional rewards of facing reality.

Combined with Connelly’s wide-eyed innocent performance (she would go on to win an Oscar for her role in A Beautiful Mind) and Bowie’s passing, Labyrinth possesses more dark and glorious magic now than the Goblin King ever did.

Labyrinth is a celebration of art, wit, music and imagination that resonates with the kids who grew up with it.

What are your Labyrinth memories? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Dr Strange director helms Labyrinth sequel

Jim Henson followed up The Dark Crystal, considered too dark for children, with the more commercial Labyrinth in 1986. Executive produced by George Lucas (Star Wars), the live-action musical fantasy film starred Jennifer Connelly (Sarah) and David Bowie (Jareth), and utilised tropes from popular tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).

My most indelible memory of seeing the film, with high school friends at the local Odeon, is the opening sequence featuring a computer-generated owl and buying Citadel Miniatures' Chaos Marauders from a local model shop.

Labyrinth quickly became a touchstone of teenage lives (mine included) and I played the Lucasfilm Games' tie-in for Commodore 64 whilst listening to the iconic soundtrack. Talk of a sequel soon followed, but nothing materialised on the silver screen. Return to Labyrinth was an English-language manga series that ran between 2006-2010.

Fast forward to 2020. Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) will direct a sequel for Sony's TriStar Pictures. Without the late Jim Henson and David Bowie, it's almost impossible to envisage a follow-up to the beloved original as the world falls down...

Monday, 22 April 2013

Back in Vue

Starting today Vue Cinemas will be showing special screenings of a variety of cult classic films including the UK premiere of Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut tonight and the following over the next eight weeks; Evil Dead, Labyrinth, Stand By Me, Trainspotting, A Clockwork Orange, and the digital cinema premiere of Bonnie and Clyde.

This will culminate in a public vote via Facebook and Twitter to decide on the final screening which is to be between Anchorman, Enter The Dragon, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Robocop and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and will take place week commencing 10th June.

Stuart Boreman, Film Buying Director at Vue Entertainment said: “Back in Vue is a compilation of some of the stand-out cult films from the last five decades and includes some defining moments in modern cinema history, from River Pheonix coming of age in Stand By Me to the roller coaster ride of Danny Boyle’s British black comedy, Trainspotting.

“Now that all of our Vue Cinemas are fully digital we are able to schedule in a wider variety of content, making events like ‘Back in Vue’ something we can programme more often. It will be interesting to see which film makes the cut for the final slot in the public vote – all of them are worthy of a re-run on the big screen, but there can only be one winner!”

The Back in Vue season is exclusive to Vue Cinemas, in partnership with Park Circus distributors, and full details can be found at