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"Labyrinth"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Labyrinth" More at IMDbPro »

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44 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Amazing TV

Author: joanne taylor from United Kingdom
27 December 2012

I watched this while on holiday and was quite literally blown away.

I knew a little about the book (i'd read half of it on holiday before accidentally leaving it in hotel room) and what I'd remembered seemed almost identical to what was realised in the film.

The story flicks back and forth between Alice in the modern (played by the excellent Vanessa Kirby) and Alais her medieval counterpoint (played by Jessica Brown Findlay- Lady Cybil from Downton Abbey.

The subject matter (the quest for the Holy Grail) could easily have been silly but somehow everything feels very convincing and real. It is a little violent at times but it was a violent period so I suppose it had to be.

There are a lot of characters in the story so there's a lot to take in in episode one but it all builds up to an amazing battle that looks like it was made for cinema instead of TV.

Overall amazing TV that really took me by surprise. Now I want to read book again.

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24 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

A dreadful first part, but a quite watchable second part.

4/10
Author: Arian Haari from United Kingdom
23 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a mini-series adaptation of a publisher-driven/designed 'bestseller' by Kate Mosse. The very plodding first part of this two-part TV movie adaptation certainly doesn't improve on the poorly-reviewed book. The movie does improve significantly in the second part, but anyone expecting a new Da Vinci Code or even a National Treasure is going to be in for a deeply disappointed slog. Actress Jessica Brown Findlay, and the movie's technicians and the location-scouts, obviously did their best to hold it afloat. But everything else drags the first part down. The first part's glacial pace and slapdash dialogue might not matter, if the characters and plot were at least mildly interesting. Generally they're just the movie equivalent of cartoons. The modern-era heroine (Vanessa Kirby) is especially annoying - she starts off doing utterly silly things and then spends the rest of the time wafting around looking glamorously confused. Only the medieval-era heroine (Jessica Brown Findlay) brings any sustained acting verve to the first part. The great John Hurt, aided by lashings of artful landscape cinematography, lifts the movie significantly during the second part. Findlay also performs very ably in terms of the acting range that's required from her in the final hour. The film's history/religious elements are very superficially explored, although they are quite historically and even theologically correct. But you can't help thinking that the ideas are largely there to provide a televisual licence for many bloody and gruesome scenes of torture, throat-slitting and other killings, suicides, and medieval massacres. There is some basic voice-over exposition of the more user-friendly Cathar ideas at the end - ideas remarkably similar to those permeating the movie Cloud Atlas - but these ideas lack any deep integration into the rest of the story. In the end, certain key physical items lack any explanation, and so the audience is left feeling rather duped. Overall, not a very satisfactory movie.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Too harsh

10/10
Author: goettel-881-904368 from Netherlands
25 June 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Labyrinth tells part of the story of one of the most horrific crimes in the Roman Catholic church's history - and there's plenty to select from.

To this day, the mass-torture and murder of the Cathars is a piece of history of which many people are still unaware. It is maybe the first organized extermination of an entire culture and people by a merciless and repressive regime in Europe, centuries before the Nazis increased the number of people tortured and killed from many thousands to millions. As a Dutchman, I really only learned that the Dutch word for heretic, "ketter", derived from "Cathar".

Also unknown to most, the Inquisition was specifically created to destroy the Cathars, who were a threat to the ultimate authority of both Church and Crown. In essence, it's the state and the church coming together to indulge in torture and mass-murder.

The story employed by Labyrinth to expose the horror of the Cathar crusade and the murderers who lead it is contrived, and hard to take seriously. It's probably aimed at those that enjoyed the rip-off that was the Da Vinci Code (which is a rip-off from the book The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail) and might appeal to those who enjoy tripe like the recent Da Vinci's Demons.

Having said that, I found most of the reviews here quite harsh.

Labyrinth is a great looking piece of television, with an outstanding performance by Bernhard Schir, who plays the grim, murderous priest Paul Authie. In my view, his performance is on par with some of the best performances in e.g. the series Breaking Bad. John Hurt does a commendable if predictable job too - his character does not have that much range, but he extracts everything he can from this limitation and manages to inject emotion into a project which is is essentially a bit silly - if still entertaining.

Maybe it is my interest in this specific piece of history, revisiting historic locations I've been to myself, like Carcassonne and the ruins of Montsegur. Maybe it is the cinematography or the gorgeous soundtrack (something very much lacking in most television). Or maybe it's just that the story of the Cathars has moved me since I learned of it, and I endorse any attempt to expose the evils done.

Whatever the case, I greatly enjoyed Labyrinth, and its theme stuck with me after watching it.

Recommended to those who are willing to look for a diamond in the rough, and can forgive the heavy-handedness resulting from people being invested in some truly epic and horrific historical storytelling.

And, last but not least, recommended to everyone who needs a reminder of the evils of oppressive religion.

N.B. I'm giving this a 10 to offset the equally unfair two's and three's. I rate this a 7 out of 10.

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15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Lost in the labyrinth

3/10
Author: Guy from UK
4 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

LABYRINTH is a two-part miniseries in which a modern woman finds her destiny linked with that of a 13th century ancestor and the Holy Grail. It's spectacularly bad, a sort of chick-lit Dan Brown which raids history for bad conspiracy theories and thinks drama consists of soap opera plots between pouting women and brooding bad boys. It's almost hilariously inaccurate, depicting Cathars as modern liberals (they weren't), female healers being hunted as witches (the Church at the time actually said witches didn't exist), Crusaders motivated entirely by greed and every other cliché you can imagine, right down to the heroine's evil sister turning out to be...her half sister! The final message is laugh out loud juvenile (essentially: be nice) and after hours of twisting Catholic theology and attacking the Church on spurious grounds, it ends with the revelation that magic is real! The dialogue is awful, the acting variable at best, the nudity unnecessary, and the battle scenes only exist as trailer fodder; to give you some idea, at one point the hero and three men all hide from arrows behind the same thin tree. The nicest I can say is that the production values are good, there's a lovely title shot and John Hurt is always good even when he's slumming.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Good production from a very weak script.

5/10
Author: roguegrafix from Thailand
2 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This two-part series has a lot going for it and a lot against it.

Firstly, the good points: Well produced with some good sets. The acting is generally fine except for the leading lady (in the present scenes) but that has a lot to do with the poor material she has to work with. Interesting concept, albeit slightly hackneyed. Action is generally good and John Hurt has such an enchanting voice.

However, the source material and hence the script is pretty poor. It bears the hallmark of one of those lengthy 800-1,000 page novels that are generally poorly written. I haven't read the book (and don't plan to) but I suspect it's one of those. The script has sadly had to be developed from such a poor choice.There are holes in the plot, in the characterization--you name it, everything. The lead woman in the present just wonders about aimlessly lost even those she's inherited a house from out of the blue, is missing her best friend, has just escaped bullies trying to kidnap her, is having hallucinations and eying up a potential romance—all at the same time. You get the picture.

If you can get over all these distractions, it's a watchable fare.

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Love the Cathars so what went wrong?

5/10
Author: EdWrite
1 April 2013

Love the Cathars, would be happy to have one for a neighbour. The concept of liberal Christians that believed in equality for all, accumulation of wealth was bad, sex was healthy and believed in reincarnation is very interesting. The fact that, in the 12/13th century, philosophically they were kicking the roman catholic churches butt says a lot. Tying that in with the holy grail and mixing it in with factual historical references gave this mini series a lot of scope. The reference to carrying our past with us in our blood is very reminiscent of Frank Herbert's Dune and the inference of a genetic memory.

However, the heavy handedness of the direction and use of cliché characters and tropes that did not make sense left me squirming in my seat. Especially in part 1 and the end of part II in the medieval period it felt as if the Cathars had some rabid twitter account saying "Dear bad guys guys want to know all our secrets?....". Yes we know it's the good guys against the bad guys but how come the bad guys seem to know more about what their counterparts are doing than they do? Damn you twitter account!!!

Speaking of which, I felt sorry for Katie McGrath who portrayed a cardboard cut out of her Morgana character in the Merlin series. She's a good looking woman and a fine actress but did she seriously have to lose her clothes so often? She was only one of many flat characters with trite dialogue. There is one scene where she can see someone shake his head in response to a question she asks when she is looking away from him. At this point I was also shaking my head as the dialogue/monologue leading up to this point felt like a quick fix to try to explain her motivation for being such a nasty piece of work and failing miserably.

When it came to the end it felt that I had only seen half the production. It felt as if a whole group of scenes had been cut out and re-spliced leaving me trying to figure how we got to F from A without B, C, D and E. If I'm being kind I would like to think that due to external pressures that a real cracker of a production is out there waiting to be shown at a future date.

As it was I found myself just becoming more frustrated as things made less and less sense. Even the role of the grail in the end becomes diminished except potentially as lesson teacher to humanity.

On the plus side Jessica Brown Findlay playing the medieval heroine was the closest to a fully formed character in the whole story and I'd like to see her in more roles. Production was good especially in the medieval scenes and the filming felt clean and slick. I now feel enlightened as I've had a chance to meet the Cathars, not to be confused with the Kardashians. Giving it 5 out of 10 as I feel like I only saw half of what could have been.

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16 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

The Hole-y Plot And The Wholly Fail

3/10
Author: nichomach from Preston, England
4 April 2013

My wife had read the book and while she said it wasn't one of the author's best, it was good enough, so I gave this a go. I've found that sometimes weaker books from an author make better films than stronger ones, and while I was a little dubious of the subject matter, I thought I'd give it a go anyway.

What I got was a heap of fairly risible trash, with phoned in performances, some remarkably passionless bonking, a retread of the familiar "It's all a Catholic plot!" Grail stuff, and a curiously strong desire to persecute Cathars. Not on religious grounds, mind you, just for being annoying. It's a pain when you're several hundred years too late to join in the fun :(. I'm just rather disappointed, overall. It's full of actors that I like, so I disregarded the rather uncomplimentary heads-up from the Radio Times and plowed on with it, only to come out at the end with, well, nothing.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Labyrinth

8/10
Author: historically_inaccurate from Canada
2 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love historical fiction especially when they are made into television shows or miniseries. The show is based on Kate Mosse's novel, Labyrinth, which involves around the holy grail. Consequently, the grail in this story is not a cup or a person, its something more supernatural. Bare in mind, I have not read the book.

I honestly thought that this was going to be like World Without End, which was produced by Ridley Scott who also produced this show. The former was not a very good show. But this one was a bit better in terms of presenting the medieval world.

Basically the show has two parts shown concurrently. One is set in 13th century France and the other in modern day France. In the present, the protagonist gets involve in a conspiracy regarding the grail particularly because her ancestor was a 'guardian' of the grail throughout history. In the past, the ancestor lives among the Cathars which are consequently being persecuted by the Catholic church. This ancestor tries to protect the secrets of the grail a midst an inquisition and spiteful sister.

The highlight of the show has to be Tom Felton. Known from the Harry Potter series, he definitely delivered something different and positive. John Hurt was great as always.

What bothered me the most was the switching from past and present. Sometimes they were extremely random. While sometimes, when something was just getting interesting, the scene changes to a different time and it can be annoying.

Regardless, I thought it was an entertaining two part series. The show can be thrilling due the religious conspiracies. I can compare to the The Da Vinci Code although it has less action but more story. The story was less about finding out the 'truth' about some grail, but how people are trying to find that 'truth'.

In conclusion, I would have to say this show will only interest people who like historical fiction, religious conspiracies, or stuff like that. But it surely entertains.

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14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

An artless production that relies on shock instead of skill.

1/10
Author: webbrchl from United Kingdom
31 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've just watched the first part of the mini-series, which has saved me the trouble of buying the book because, to be frank, it's awful. The subject matter (search for the Holy Grail) is hackneyed. The plot (innocent blonde haunted by historical visions and drawn in to solve a mystery) is uninspired. The screenplay is unconvincing. The violence and nastiness is a sad reflection of society if this is what people call entertainment. There are acceptable ways to portray violence in a novel or on screen without losing dramatic impact. It's not easy; it requires skill. This production ignores skill and takes the easy option, i.e. in-your-face, shock-the-heck-out-of-the-audience brutality. If the production is a true reflection of the novel, then Mosse should be ashamed. If it isn't, then she should sue.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Very good subject, a bit disappointed with an execution

6/10
Author: blendingcolours from United Kingdom
31 March 2013

First of all, I think the story on Cathars is a brilliant topic for film - barely touched in films. I'm disappointed that not everything was filmed in location (Southern Africa? Why? Languedoc and around wasn't good enough?). The other thing, but it's a personal thing, the archaeological excavations were rubbish - nobody digs like that! (but I'm an archaeologist, so it's my thing). I didn't really enjoy the modern part of the story because of acting - actors and actresses were very stiff and unnatural. It looks like the modern story was directed and filmed by somebody else, but the Medieval part was much better in execution. I give 9 for the Medieval part and 3 for modern part, so it's 6 in general. My opinion is based on the first episode.

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