If you’re once more on the search for ways to impress yourself and show off that new 4K home cinema projector, Pan’s Labyrinth has to be on your wishlist. The 2006 movie finally and firmly put writer and director Guillermo del Toro on the proverbial radar, and in the years since its release has become a dark fantasy standard. It helps that the motion picture has incredible cinematography by Guillermo Navarro, fantastic music by Javier Navarrete, gorgeous makeup and effects, and a dual-meaning story of the best kind.
The 4K HDR Blu-ray is the definitive way to watch Pan’s Labyrinth as its makers intended. The disc has good HDR10 implementation, and with HDR10 being so prevalent, the Blu-ray will work great with every BD player, including Xbox consoles. Just plug in to your projector’s HDMI 2.0 port and prepare to be amazed.
Pan’s Labyrinth bases itself on the familiar structure of crossing seemingly mundane reality with the world of magic and fantasy. A young girl called Ofelia lives in 1944 Spain (played by Ivana Baquero, most recently seen in Netflix’s Alta Mar). One night, Ofelia follows a fairy and enters a mystical labyrinth, where she meets a faun (Doug Jones). The faun entrusts Ofelia with tasks that are supposed to determine the fate of the magical realm, with the ever-present threat from the monstrous Pale Man (also played by Doug Jones, who befriended del Toro when they made Hellboy together in 2004). As the story progresses, we become acquainted with multiple characters in Ofelia’s human world, including her stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez). The audience is given to understand that the similarities between what happens in the faun’s labyrinth and the unstable reality of the “actual” world are no coincidence.
Pan’s Labyrinth is regarded as dark fantasy because it’s different from the more cheerful approach of other fantasy movies. There’s quite a lot of horror in this one, as well as ominous audio cues to look out for, delivered in very nice 5.1 channel sound. If you’re easily disturbed, Pan’s Labyrinth may not be for you. We do wholeheartedly recommend it for its direct and touching take on the situation in Spain during the Franco regime. For each wonder and horror that occurs on the side of fantasy, Pan’s Labyrinth offers equal measure in the supposedly safe realm of our world, even in broad daylight.
You really have to watch Pan’s Labyrinth in 4K with HDR on a big screen because this is one of those detail-rich, color-intense love letters to cinema. Guillermo del Toro makes no secret of his passion for telling tall tales and focusing on outlandish creature designs. Those are out in full force for Pan’s Labyrinth. The movie makes a firm case for higher resolutions, and once you view it in 4K going back to a full HD version appears jarring.
From the intricate details on the faun, the marvelous tapestry of the labyrinth, and the lush sophistication of wooded areas to the very contrasting reality of mid 1940s Spain, Pan’s Labyrinth dishes out the visuals like there’s no tomorrow. While for some movies we’re fine with displaying on the side of a barn, for this one you most definitely need to be indoors, in a proper home cinema setting, with a really good screen to project onto. You’ll enjoy each and every detail only if your setup can do Pan’s Labyrinth justice.