This film another one of my favorate fantasy films, it's also another one of my childhood gems. As I stated before as a kid I love fantasy, I loved listening to Grimm's Fairy Tales from my mom, seeing this film it was one hell of a fairy tale. However this isn't a fairy tale for kids entirely but it's one that is for teens and adults, which give the film greater accessability.
The production value is just supurb it is just a feast for the eyes, as most to all this was done within a studio which is great and kinda a lost practice in most films. I really love all the set pieces from the forest land down to Darkness's hellish fortress which are all practical, no CGI bullcrap; the world is made so well it really looks like a place that could of existed. The make up work great done by my favorate make up effects artist Rob Botin, the creatures as well as Darkness look real almost like they could exist.
The music score is supurb as it's a mix from both Tangerine Dream and my favorate composer Jerry Goldsmith, there are lots of memorable tracks . Action is decent which I'll admit one weak point in the film for me I honestly felt the choigraphy could of been better or a bit longer, but all the same there are some good scuffles like a fight in the kitchen as well as the sword fight between Jack and Darkness which was cool.
Characters are soild, Tom Cruse is soild as Jack whom is sort of Tarzan like character just like Tarzan has lived in and with nature so his contact with the outside is limited except for Princess Lily. Mia Sara whom I think is a bit of an underrated actress is soild in this role. Both have a pretty good back and forth, it's true it's not a deep romance, fairy tales were never really known for that what are you going to do. Both have one thing in common as both are naïve as both despite how much in touch they are in the two different worlds they are from and inhabit they are also out of touch with those worlds and the darkness that lies within.
However the best character and my favorate in the film as well as one of my favorate fictional villians is Darkness whom is played by my favorate actor Tim Curry. The make up and costume work of the Darkness is just supurb as it is spot on to the Devil figure known from the old legends. He is just an intimidating and slightly terrorfying figure from both his physicality and that commanding voice, I'll admit just looking at the guy as well as hearing his voice made me really nervious as a kid.
But what makes the character stand out is that despite what he's suppose to represent there are shades of grey. In his mind he doesn't see himself as evil he never even mentions it once. Despite his hatred for the sunshine he longs to walk and be a part and inherit that world which he has been denyed access to; and we see he's going to do it one way or another.
What makes Darkness also interesting is in a way he sort of a dark mirror, most of what he says and feels are is sort of what we all sometimes feel deep inside everyday even when we don't want to admit it.
On one hand the film is pretty much a straight forward fantasy adventure which is fine by me, most of the time that's how I like most stories. But on the other hand the film does have some deep substance which complicates the story but in a good way, because it keeps itself simple but at the same time not so much.
I really like how the film has some underlying tones of coming of age and the loss of innocence which is reflected in both the fantasy world and both Jack and Lilly, as we see the beautiful fantasy realm turned into a dark forboding icy hell. There is even a beautiful dance scene where Lily is dancing with a dark figure and then suddenly both become one basically Lily's loss of innocence ( on a side note I'll admit Lily looks a lot better that way, what can I say I have a think for girls in black and goths). There's kinda some biblical aligory, in a way you can says Jack and Lily are like Adam and Eve, and the fact that the land has turned is much like Adam and Eve's fall from grace.
But also some philosophical territory on the perception of good and evil. Most of what Darkness says as well as a great final monologue at the end really makes you think because there is truth to it, what is it that really creates and cements the existence of good, can good really exist without the other? What truly makes a person good or evil are we ever really one or the other, or are we just a mixture of both walking a razors edge thoughout a dangerous existance? And even if evil is vanquished is it ever truly gone?
Like any great legendary story it won't be forgotten.
Rating: 4 stars