Following a bloody civil war, young Ofelia enters a world of unimaginable cruelty when she moves in with her new stepfather, a tyrannical military officer. Armed with only her imagination, Ofelia discovers a mysterious labyrinth and meets a faun who sets her on a path to saving herself and her ailing mother. But soon, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, and before Ofelia can turn back, she finds herself at the center of a ferocious battle between good and evil.
Plot: In the Falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Aspect Ratio: 1.85.1
Runtime: 118 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Pan’s Labyrinth is Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups, with the horrors of both reality and fantasy blended together into an extraordinary, spellbinding fable.
“Guillermo del Toro’s fairytale for adults.”
This movie was shot with the Arriflex 435 ES on 35mm and ultimately finished as a 2k Digital Intermediate — that means you will get an upscale on this disc. As per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in HDR10. There are some soft shots during the film, but nothing that takes you out of the movie.
When it comes to the grain levels, there is a slight layer present from time to time, but for the most part you get a really clean image that also keeps the original filmatic look. Even though the Blu-ray looks beautiful, the UHD takes it to the next level and everything looks masterful in its full screen ratio.
I’m assuming most of you have seen this film, so you know the way this movie was shot. All of the daytime scenes are warm with a sepia-like yellow tones and all of the night scenes appear cooler with a variety of blue hues. A lot of these night scenes are only lit only by the moon, so that a lack of color leaves room for the HDR to properly produce. There’s one case where you can see both styles blend together in Chapter 11 when the guerilla’s are walking though the woods at night. You will notice the lack of color until it changes at an instant as they enter the cave. You’ll get warmth around the room from the fire with flesh tones and uniforms looking more vivid. (Another time to note where this is obvious is with Ofelia’s second trial. Her pajamas go from an absence of color in the night-light to an obvious green in the next room due to the light from the fire.)
Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark movie so one of biggest points of contention for me was going to be the black levels, and they’re top notch. That, the jump in sharpness and the use of HDR noticeably changed the way the movie was presented. There is more contrast, depth and dimension all around — whether it’s the way Labyrinth appears in the middle of the night with touches of bright green moss, the forrest lush with earthly colors, textures on the walls (cracks/wetness/rubble), dark corners disappearing in the house, character close up’s and even the small touches of noticeable enhanced textures on various wardrobes like Ofelia’s wool coat. Faun looks great too!
Here are some of the highlights I jotted down. During Chapter 7 when Ofelia is under the tree you get great textures and contrast with the mud on and around her, solid black levels — and again as she leaves the tree with blues and browns filling the screen with a boost in clarity and sharpness. Chapter 12 with the Pale Man looks scarier than ever with the new HDR tone filling your screen with reds from the fire and the food on the table.
There are flashes of near-reference grade material that pop in and out throughout the film (For example, Chapter 16’s conversation between the Captain and the prisoner) — it happens too quickly and too many times to note. Just know it’s there.
I know the question at hand with repurchasing a film is: do you really need to upgrade for the added benefits of UHD? That’s always going to be up to you and how much you enjoy the movie at hand. Pan’s Labyrinth won Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Makeup — it speaks volumes of the creativity coming to life on the big screen, so you can’t go wrong on the best format. For any fans of this film, this is the best way to watch it and if you don’t own it yet, this is a must own UHD.
Officially, the 4K UHD Combo Pack & Digital releases on October 1st, so make sure you head out to your local retailer to pick it up — it’s an easy recommendation! Moving forward, as mentioned in my last review, there are a bunch classics coming to the UHD format in the coming weeks including The Shining, Scarface, The Wizard of Oz and It’s A Wonderful Life — be sure to check back in for more reviews throughout October.
Are you a fan of this movie? Will you be picking it up in UHD? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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