Inevitable Remakes: “Labyrinth”
No such announcement has been made, and the rights to Labyrinth may well be split between Disney, the Sony-owned distribution company Tri-Star, and the remnants of the Jim Henson Company (though Disney owns much of that as well.) Yet the power of 80s nostalgia and a ready-made audience for remakes of beloved properties means that Labyrinth 2.0 can only be a matter of time.
It doesn’t take voo-doo to predict that a remake might include the following elements:
Justin Timberlake as The Goblin King
David Bowie could still do a mean “Magic Dance” if he wanted to, but a remake would probably tap someone new as the vulpine antagonist. If they shy away from musicians altogether, there’s a risk that the new Goblin King might be live-action cartoon character Johnny Depp. He’s sung before, to generally poor reviews, in movies like Sweeny Todd and Into the Woods. More likely, though, a remake will require several new songs to be written, performed, and acted by a real triple threat. Justin Timberlake is the best choice today. His comedy chops have made him a staple of late-night TV, and his ear for a pop hook has allowed him to keep up with the changing tastes of top-40 radio listeners. Timberlake has more than enough talent and star power to headline a new Labyrinth and provide a fresh slate of songs.
Quvenzhané Wallis as Sarah
Jennifer Connelly was 15 when she played reluctant babysitter Sarah in the original film. Quvenzhané Wallis, the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Actress Oscar after her incredible turn in Beasts of the Southern Wild, turns 12 this year. She’s already headlined one major remake, 2014’s Annie. If a new Labyrinth happens in the next 3-4 years, Wallis is the ideal choice to fill Connelly’s shoes. She would bring a degree of diversity missing from the original on-screen cast, as well as an incredible amount of natural talent. Wallis has one more film credit than Connelly had when she made Labyrinth, making her an established front-runner for the lead role.
CGI or motion-capture
Labyrinth was the last movie Jim Henson directed. His untimely death in 1990 didn’t put an end to puppetry in film, and Disney has recently revitalized the fortunes of his Muppet gang, but latter-day Lucasfilm properties typically trade in pixels rather than practical effects. The lumpy face of Sarah’s helpmate Hoggle isn’t one of Henson’s best works, and the character wouldn’t necessarily suffer from becoming a computer sprite. Ideally, though, Andy Serkis would provide motion-capture work to make the residents of the Labyrinth feel tangibly present alongside their human costars. The choice between straight CGI and motion-capture is one of the most important that the creators of a new Labyrinth will face, and their decision could make or break the remake.
Darkness or campiness
Relaunches often ratchet up the angst, and a Guillermo del Toro could have a field day turning New Labyrinth into Pan’s Labyrinth. Or a remake could stay true to the spirit of the original, with its dry silliness and decidedly uncynical lessons about family and courage. Does Sarah need a dark childhood to run away from? Does the Goblin King need an elaborate backstory? No, but those elements do help to generate buzz for a film, so the temptation to give in to the dark side will be strong.
Would a remake be good?
There’s no reason a new Labyrinth couldn’t equal or surpass its source material, a rather slow and clunky effort that owes some measure of its appeal to nostalgia. The path is fraught with peril, but the odds are in a remake’s favor when Disney inevitably gets around to it – especially if they follow the advice laid out here!
Labyrinth on Flickchart
- Ranked #800 globally
- Wins 44% of matchups
- 487 users have it in their top 20
- 42 users have it at #1