Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-7850 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
- Front Speakers
- Cheap Thrills Mains
- Center Channel Speaker
- Cheap Thrills Center
- Surround Speakers
- Volt 10 Surrounds
- Surround Back Speakers
- Volt 10 Rear Surrounds
- Rear Height Speakers
- Volt 6 Overheads
- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- Sony 85 inch X950H FALD TV
Pan’s Labyrinth along with The Devil’s Backbone are what originally got me into Guillermo del Toro’s magical works of film making fiction. I personally feel that his Spanish films are actually his best ones (as much as I guiltily LOOOOOOOVE Pacific Rim), and these two offer some of his finest and most finely polished movies to day. He’s a master storyteller, and an even better visual storyteller with his trademark creepy characters, nightmarish situations, and twisted takes on fantasy and the spirit realm. 13 years ago Pan’s Labyrinth hit U.S. cinemas with a massive rush, and it became an instant classic for fans of dark fantasy, as well as one of Warner Brother’s first Blu-ray discs back in the days of the format war, and was highly lauded as one of their best hits back in the day (wow, has it REALLY been almost 13 years since the format war started?). Today Warner brings us a fantastic new 4K UHD disc that really spices up the tired old Blu-ray transfer, which is a massively appreciated feat as the old Blu-ray was looking worn and tired.
Del Toro’s fantasy flick is a coat of many colors. On one hand it’s a dark and twisted fantasy story, a child’s tale of grief, a war story, and an adult drama all rolled into one. Poor Ophelia (Ivana Baquero) is the oldest daughter of a pregnant woman who is sadly married to a sadistic war commander during the Spanish civil war. Or more accurately, just after the civil war was fought and one. She is basically Cinderella with a male as the evil villain this go around. She’s viciously treated by him and soon retreats into a fantasy world wherein she is visited by a Faun (played by Doug Jones, which del Toro uses in films like Hellboy and Hellboy II for his extreme acrobatics and physicality) who informs her that she is the long lost queen of a magical kingdom underground, which she can return to after she performs several feats for the faun.
The feats are horrible and terrifying as it is, but it is no more terrifying than the world that Ophelia returns to in reality. Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) is a vile human being, epitomizing all of the evil and stereotypes that we have of the rise of actual fascism in Spain. The only reason he’s even REMOTELY civil to Ophelia is because her mother is on the way to giving him the all desired male heir to his enormous ego. Unfortunately for Ophelia her antics with the fawn brings her to do somethings that are not appropriate for a military captain’s daughter to do in the times of a campaign, enraging him even more, and causing Ophelia to go deeper and deeper into her own twisted fantasy world.
Rewatching Pan’s Labyrinth reminded me of just how fantastic the story is. No matter how bleak and depressing the underlying story is, del Toro keeps you mesmerize with both the fantasy world Ophelia crafts, as well as the war story that he’s telling on top of it. Both stories are inexorably intertwined together, and if taken separately aren’t nearly as satisfying as when you take both pieces and put them together as a whole. The story rips at your heart strings and leaves the audience with a sort of bittersweet feeling in the pit of their stomach that resonates just as much today as it did 13 years ago when I sat enraptured in theaters.
Rated R for graphic violence and some language
4K Video: Video:
Looking at the 4K UHD disc, it looks like Warner took a remastered (or at least a much improved taken on the old master) attempt at the same look that the original Blu-ray had, just with much better results. The DNR is all gone and the massive crush that plagued the Blu-ray is vanished as well. The original colors are back as well, putting the disc awash with heavy blues, earth tones and golden highlights that come and go with shockingly saturated reds and blues in the fantasy world. It appears that the new master was taken form a 2K source, which is most likely due to the 2K sourced CGI effects that were done back in the day, and all in all the disc looks great. Fine detail is way better (and solidly better than the Criterion Blu-ray I might add) with some mild softness that has always been present from the film’s source material. The image is just saturated in DEEEEP blacks, but the shadow detail is absolutely stunning, and visual clarity is the best I’ve ever seen the film look. My only nitpick is more of a collector’s wish than a real problem. The Criterion Blu-ray is leagues better than the 2007 Warner Blu-ray, so if you want the best of the best for the Blu-ray format that’s the one you want, while the Blu-ray disc included in this combo pack is the worn and beaten old 2007 disc, which had more than its share of problems. My wish would be that Criterion and Warner could have worked out a deal to have the Criterion Blu-ray included in the 4K UHD combo set, but I logically know that’s a pipe dream.
• Video prologue by Guillermo del Toro
• The Power of Myth
• The Faun and the Fairies
• The Color and the Shape
• The Director's Notebook
I still think that Pan’s Labyrinth is one of Del Toro’s BEST works to date along with The Devil’s Backbone, and for good reason. He told a tale that resonated with EVERYONE in the audience, even if they didn’t like fantasy. The story was engaging, and his visuals were simply amazing. Doug Jones himself came out and stated that it was probably one of the best roles of his life (he played not only the faun, but the eyeless slenderman too). You’re just whisked away to a magical world of evil and darkness, yet still comforted with hope and joy throughout it all. The 4K UHD disc is a good upgrade over the Blu-ray from Warner, and a solid upgrade over the fantastic Criterion Collection Blu-ray as well in terms of video. Highly recommended.
Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdu, Doug Jones, Ariadna Gil, Alex Angulo, Manolo Solo
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 HEVC
Audio: Spanish (Castilian): DTS-HD MA 5.1,
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: Own Pan’s Labyrinth on Ultra HD Blu-ray and Digital on October 1st.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended