Jennifer Connelly and her loveable Muppet friends Hoggle, Ludo, Didymus and Ambrosius rescue this movie from the Bog of Eternal Stench into which Goblin King David Bowie’s sinister bad acting and evil synth-pop songs nearly banished it forever.
Bratty teenage Sarah (Connelly) is the kind of girl every D&D geek at a Ren Faire imagine actually exists, but only does in Jim Henson films. The beautiful damsel loves fairytales and magic and crystals and MC Escher prints but hates babysitting her baby step-brother Toby. In fact, she wishes that the Goblin King (David Bowie) would send his goblin army to whisk him away.
She only needs to utter words to that effect, which she does, and the unimaginable happens. Sarah must then travel to the Goblin King’s fairytale universe and forge her way through a vast labyrinth of monsters, pitfalls and puppet dance numbers. Along the way, she meets Hoggle, Ludo, Didymus and Ambrosius, who, in complete defiance of the Goblin King, assist her in journey.
While the story from Dennis Lee and Jim Henson (screenplay by Monty Pythoner Terry Jones) comes up way short, the Henson team still manages to thrill with highly imaginative production design, puppeteering and effects. A sequence involving Connelly falling into a well of groping hands that form ghoulish faces, in something like a cross between shadow puppets and Momenshantz, is particularly astonishing.