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It's from Jim Henson and it was released 4 years after masterpiece The Dark Crystal. Even with a very different story comparisons between the two movies are inevitably going to be made. The story in Dark Crystal is more elaborate, you get more background information about the characters and the races etc. That doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy Labyrinth, on the contrary but this movie would never be able to beat the Dark Crystal in my opinion. Labyrinth is more light hearted where Dark Crystal had a more serious and dark tone. I particularly liked the part of Didymus being small he thought he could take on a huge army. he did remind me of Reeperjeep from Narnia. Than there was Udo the big hairy monster who was actually fuzzy and adorable. And not to forget Hoggle the grumpy but helpful dwarf who did care more about Sara than he wanted to admit (reminded me of Grumpy in his relationship with Snow White). Labyrinth does have human actors and not only dolls and puppets like in Dark Crystal however the human actors stay limited to Sara, the goblin king and little Toby. Sara played by Jennifer Connolly played this part well. She was first a childlike teenager on the verge of becoming a young woman still being attached to her dolls (materialistic) and fleeing into her favorite fairy tales. After her journey she learned an important lesson. I think that was shown well. Another human part that was executed amazingly was that of the goblin King played by David Bowie. Bowie is a singer and not an actor and it shows when he is singing a song, you can see the performer in him and how he tries to put the attention on him. Although not cruel he is threatening and evil and yes Bowie did this well for a non-actor. His walking on the ceiling part amazed me as a kid, I still love that today.
Great mixture of fairy tale and modern world
I always thought that mixing fairy tales with our daily life would make for a bad and cliché movie that only romantic comedy lovers would appreciate. I have no problem with this genre but often they tend to be boring, predictable and uninspired. This movie had indeed its overly cute stuff but that doesn't get annoying at all as it has so many funny moments that you can't find anything to complain about (at least I didn't). I thought setting the fairy tale world of Andalasia up as an animation and having its inhabitants to be real humans when they are in New York was a fantastic idea and I can't think of other movies who do such a good job at that. You will recognize references to other fairy tales such as Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty. However this story and its characters is standing very strong on his own. It's not the typical fairy tale where you know who is going to end up with who. It is something completely new. This movie is definitely worth a lot of re-watches.
Good but feels kind of rushed
This was a dark fantasy movie, I think that is the best way to describe it. The movie is based on a series of books (which I haven't read) so that's why I feel that a lot of things are left unexplained and that the movie feels pretty rushed. I would have preferred that the movie was a bit longer and provided us more background about its sub-characters such as Uncle Monty and aunt Josephine. Josephine is played by Meryl Streep who executes the part as the panicking and ever seeing accidents happening aunt marvelously. That Jim Carey plays the evil Count Olav might be a surprise since he is always type-casted as a comedy character. He does play this part well and adds humor to it, which is good. However he might not have been the best choice for this role. The children are the main center of the movie and do this well. Little Sunny was adorable as the biting toddler. Violet was pretty, smart and elegant (loved the way she dressed) and I was happy to see Emily Browning (also great in Ghost Ship) doing this role. And Klaus showed that reading and thus inheriting knowledge is pretty handy when being in danger. Intelligence doesn't make you boring at all. The story is although dark very compelling but as said before rushed. Maybe a mini series or one movie per book had been better.
Hansel and Gretel (1987)
This is a wonderful adaptation
I have not seen all of the Cannon Movie Tales but so far I like this one best. This fairy tale was always interesting as a kid because of the house made of cookies and candy. Which kid would not love to find that! The candy house really came across as real so well done on the makers there. The story is pretty true adaptation but more elaborated. I'm glad they didn't make the mother so cold as in the original tale where she didn't seem to care about them. Nicola Stapleton was a nice little Snow White and plays the role of Gretl eagerly well but so does Hansel. But the real star is the evil witch, she is so ugly and scary, really I wouldn't want to be trapped in that house with her even not as adult. And all that sugary food shown it makes you want to have pie and cake for real! I think the movie found the perfect balance between scary (the witch) and sweet (thanks to the songs).
Snow White (1987)
A faithful adaptation
Although it isn't as endearing or charming as Disney's animated version I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I think both Nicola Stapleton and Sarah Patterson (better known for her role as Rosaleen in Company of Wolves) did a good job playing Snow White. Best part was played by the evil queen (Mia Rig) who really was evil. At least she was pretty in comparison to the evil queen from Disney who looked like a ghost (and could never be the fairest of them all). The evil queen had so many costumes in which she could disguise and transform into a totally different person. She used her disguises 3 times to kill Snow White. That's right she needed 3 attempts for that. I'm glad they showed us in this version all of these attempts so people do know it was not only the poisonous apple. I knew about a poisonous comb in one the version I have read but never knew about the corset until I saw this one. The mirror was mostly the scary thing in the movie, having that foul laugh and face. The songs are nice not great but not over the top and fitting. I was a bit disappointed by the dwarfs however, they do lack some kind of personality and too bad they have all the same sounding names ending on "iddy". I think even after multiple viewings it will be impossible to say who is who. Nevertheless this is certainly one of the best adaptations of the fairy tale.
Red Riding Hood (1988)
The Original fairy tale stretched out
I tend to like the Cannon Movie Tales. This is not the best one but certainly not the worst. It is the retelling of the famous fairy tale Red Riding Hood but the story is stretched out. Red Riding Hood is named Linet but doesn't wear her red hood in most of the scenes. There is an explanation of why she should wear it though. I'm glad that they took a young girl for her role of 10-11 who still likes to believe in fairies and not a girl hitting puberty worrying about sexuality etc as they tend to do in the more adult versions. This is how I wanted the story to be displayed, the kids version of the fairy tale like I have read it. Of course it is elaborated or it would be over very quickly. There is given much more background info about Red's mother, grandmother and the wolf who is a man named Dagger. Dagger works for the evil uncle of Red who exploits his minions. And yes Red does have a father! The songs in here are maybe not the best, kind of cheesy, but it is a movie for kids. In general I'm pleased with the result and I think multiple viewings will make me appreciate it even more.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Getting better every time I watch it
I think this was the first movie I saw with school in theater. Unfortunately it would be the only true fantasy movie that we ought to see with school, all the others were pretty much prison and serious movies with no magic. Well there is no wizards in Princess Bride but there are enough elements to consider it magical. The story is a classic Romeo and Julia one but it is executed so cleverly that it is never boring. Not only are the 2 main characters Buttercup and Westley worked out well but there is also an interesting side story from subcharacter Inigo Montoya, the sympathetic Spaniard. What makes this movie so good is not only its fairy tale theme but also its humor. There are so many scenes that put a smile on my face making me want to watch it again. People who loved the old WWF wrestling will be pleased to see the appearance of Andre the Giant playing well a giant but with soft personality.
Robin Hood (1973)
Not really accurate adaptation but sure the most fun
Although I liked the concept of an outlaw stealing from the rich to help the poor the story of Robin Hood never did much to me. I found all the movie adaptations pretty rough and uninteresting, but that's how it was in those times. Disney however made this story into something more fun to watch. There are no humans in this animation but all the characters from the story are played by animals. Robin Hood and Maid Marianne are foxes, little John is a bear and prince John is a lion just to name a few. They are all humanized however and can talk. Humanized animals is a concept that often causes for fun scenes and this movie is nothing short of that. The funniest scenes in my opinion are between the Sheriff of Nottingham and his stupid guards, and not to forget the big fight at the tournament with Lady Cluck simulating some kind of rugby game. Yes Prince John is mean and cruel but he is also naive, childish (thumb-sucking) which makes him laughable. This is surely one to watch over and over again. I don't think this movie would have turned out that well had it been humans playing the characters.
Beauty and the Beast (1987)
Not really good, pretty boring
If you have watched Beauty and the Beast animation and think you will going to see the same story, think again. This one took place earlier and doesn't have castle personnel turned into furniture. Maybe this is a fair adaptation of the classical story but the problem is that it is pretty boring. You see Beauty walking around in the castle and having dreams about a prince. In the evening she has dinner with Beast who really doesn't look that scary or does not come across as mean (which he is supposed to be in the beginning). And than he asks do you want to marry me. I can understand that Beauty does say no as he never spends time with her during daytime. Unlike other Cannon movie Tales I didn't like this one at all. I couldn't find anything enchanting, captivating or interesting in it.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Despite the serious tone of this tale Disney manages to make this one really kids friendly. Yes Beast is really scary at first and the dark scenes in the woods and castle are really creepy. I was actually really impressed how the movie makers came up with the idea of turning the other people in the castle into pieces of furniture because of the spell. It was genius how each person had become an object close to the task they were fulfilling in the castle. This makes of course for some really funny scenes. The constant squabbling between Pendule and Lumiere is priceless. Belle is pretty different from other Disney female heroes that she is not interested in romance at all (at least not until she discovers she soft side of Beast). Yes it is heartwarming how Beast changes from a coldhearted monster into a loving and tender man. Let's not forget the catchy songs which are pretty much the best parts of the movie wanting you to sing and dance along.