Just about every beloved movie from the ’80s currently has a remake, reboot, sequel, or spinoff in the works, and Labyrinth is no exception. Rumors of a remake first began early last year around the time of original star David Bowie’s death, but those involved were quick to shut down the rumors and insist that the film would not be remade. Now, the property is officially being resurrected, but in the form of a spinoff rather than a remake.
And while I remain skeptical of a new movie “set in the universe of Labyrinth,” I’m willing to give it a chance. Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez is attached to direct, and everyone involved has been adamant that the new film is not a remake and will be respectful of Jim Henson’s original film. So with that in mind, and since this is really happening, here are 11 things the new Labyrinth movie has to include — or exclude.
The best thing about Labyrinth (with the possible exception of Bowie) is the amazing lineup of Jim Henson creations that make up the bulk of the film’s cast. If the new movie omits puppets in favor of CGI monsters, the movie will lose all of its charm and immediately alienate its intended audience of nostalgic millennials. I’ll honestly be surprised if they go the puppet route, but if they’re serious about continuing the spirit of Labyrinth, the movie has to be puppet-filled and CGI creature-free.
2. No CGI David Bowie
Speaking of CGI, the new trend is to use the technology to create actual actors. Whether its de-aging living actors like Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 or resurrecting dead ones like Peter Cushing in Rogue One, the practice definitely isn’t going away anytime soon. But using it to reanimate David Bowie as Jareth would be a mistake. It will come across as disrespectful and creepy, regardless of whether or not his family grants permission, and it’s hard to see any positive from doing it.
3. No Jareth Period
I also don’t think the film should re-cast the Goblin King. While I’m generally not opposed to recasting roles in franchises — I’d much rather have Chris Pratt as Indiana Jones than a 78-year-old Harrison Ford — the Goblin King is different. For one, Labyrinth isn’t a franchise. It was one movie that came out over thirty years ago, and Bowie is the Goblin King. As far as I’m concerned, there can never be another. You can revisit another part of that world that doesn’t involve Jareth and still capture the feel of the original film with a new and original antagonist.
The original had some great tunes, and the new movie should have the same. It should also feature original music that’s of its time, and shouldn’t feature covers of Bowie songs or songs that deliberately try to sound like they were made in the ’80s. Maybe get Lin Manuel Miranda to pen some tracks, I bet he’d do it.
While Labyrinth is technically a kids movie and has its light moments, it’s still quite dark and creepy overall. A girl wishes for goblins to take away her baby brother and they do it, threatening to keep the baby forever. That’s terrifying for kids (and adults), and it’s one of the aspects of the film that makes it so beloved. If it were your usual happy-go-lucky kid’s movie with puppets no one would care about it, but that unsettling streak at the core of the film is what makes it such a classic, and the new film should do its best to emulate that.
6. Jennifer Connelly
I’m almost positive there will be more nostalgic adults interested in seeing this new film than kids, and including the original star — now obviously an adult — could make for a unique angle. If the movie features Sarah returning to the world of Labyrinth as a grown up, a world she had told herself she had imagined as a teen, it would be a story that no one saw coming. It may also make it more of a sequel than a spinoff, but that’s fine provided that it’s done well. The movie could then function as a nice metaphor for revisiting one’s lost childhood, which should really appeal to the old millennials (present company included) who will be lining up to see it.
7. Other Returning Characters
In addition to Sarah’s possible return, I’d love to see a least a couple of the old puppets return. Sir Didymus is basically the original Rocket Raccoon and would certainly be welcomed by today’s audiences, ditto the rock-calling giant Ludo. Hoggle is probably best left in the past, but we definitely wouldn’t argue against a return of the nightmare-inducing Fireys. Heck, I’d even be happy just to see the Worm again.
8. An Original Story
I guess this should go without saying, but to avoid all talk of a reboot the movie really needs to come up with something new. It’s not enough to say it’s a spinoff by using new characters and still following the plot of the original, the new film must come up with a whole new reason to enter the world of Labyrinth. In other words, I don’t want to see any babies stolen by goblins this time around with someone forced to find their way through a labyrinth to get them back, as much fun as that may be.
9. An Expanded Mythology
Labyrinth introduced lots of cool aspects of its world, like the truth-telling/lying four guards and the amnesia-inducing peaches, and I’d be curious to see what else goes on this strange place that wasn’t touched on in the original film. After all, what good would Star Wars be if the sequels didn’t introduce any new worlds or creatures that weren’t in the first film?
Even though Labyrinth is dark and weird, it still lightens things up with some comedic bits. The supporting characters all have their funny moments with regular jokes throughout, and while no one would consider the film to be a comedy per se, it’s still pretty funny for a dark puppet fantasy. The new film should try and mimic this tone, too, and fight the urge to go full post-Dark Knight dark and gritty, as that was never what Labyrinth was.
11. The Bog of Eternal Stench
Look, if you have a fart swamp at your disposal and you don’t put it in your movie, then what are you even doing?
You can catch the original Labyrinth as COMET’s Friday Night Feature at 8/7C on May 12, with an encore performance the following night!