Five years ago, Sony released Labyrinth on 4K for the first time in honor of it’s 30th anniversary. It was a top notch release back then, but a little lacking on the packaging front. Now they are back out with a new version for its 35th anniversary, with some improved specs and a collectible Digibook. The story holds fond memories for those who grew up with it in their childhood, dropping cash on yet another 4K version would bring some hesitation. So is it really worth dropping the cash if you already own the Blu-ray or the existing 4K release? Let’s dig in and find out.
If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon
|Format(s):||UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-100)|
Digital Copy (4K)
|Released By:||Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|
|Release Date:||August 17th, 2021|
|Video Format / Codec:||4K: H.265 (HEVC)|
BR: MPEG-4 AVC
Native 4K, 2160/24p
(3280 x 2160 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)
Full HD, 1080/24p
(1920 x 1080 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)
|Digital Intermediate (DI):||4K (from 35 mm negatives)|
|High-Dynamic Range (HDR):||Dolby Vision (FEL), HDR10|
|Audio Format(s):||English (4K): Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48 kHz, 24-bit)|
English (BR): Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48 kHz, 24-bit)
Additional audio tracks available in English, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin), Italian, German, Russian, Czech, Hungarian, Korean, Polish, Turkish
|Subtitles:||English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish|
|Packaging:||Dual disc Digibook with plastic slipcover|
*Slipcover may only be available on initial pressing, however it would seem unlikely they would discontinue it for future pressings of this same Digibook format.
|Region Coding:||4K: Region-free|
BR: Region A
The 35th anniversary edition of Labyrinth brings the same film scan as that seen on the 30th anniversary, but this time with all new color-grading in Dolby Vision (and HDR10). Much like it’s predecessor this scan wows with detail, highlighting not only fine details on the human actors, but also the meticulous details used in the puppets and set pieces throughout the movie. The Dolby Vision color brings a slight refinement to the palette and subtle improvements to the contrast, but on the whole, it is not a major leap forward over the already excellent 30th anniversary release. Film grain detail is present throughout the movie, and it can be heavy at times. But the film grain is well formed and not pleasing to the eye through most of the film, with a couple of scenes where it becomes more pronounced. I found the film grain on the 4K to be more prominent than the Blu-ray, likely because it is sharper and more contrast-y.
The standard Blu-ray is also a stunner, but appears to be the same as the 30th anniversary release. Playing scenes back to back with the 4K version, the 4K is definitely better, but not by much. They preserved a lot of detail in the downscale to 1080p for the standard Blu-ray, and either is an excellent viewing experience. Overall I found the Blu-ray to be slightly graded a little lighter (not necessarily brighter) in some scenes, likely due to lightening of the image to preserve shadow details, but it would not be noticeable to a viewer unless they were going back and forth between the two.
Overall, both discs offer a fantastic visual experience, with this 35th anniversary 4K image, topping the 30th anniversary counterpart only very slightly in the color department.
Video Score (4K): 4.8 / 5
Video Score (BR): 4.7 / 5
Both discs feature identical Dolby Atmos mixes over a TrueHD 7.1 base. This is the same mix as found on the 30th anniversary release of the 4K and standalone Blu-ray. It is a strong mix with great use of surrounds and heights to build ambiance and enhance the spaciousness of the various environments within the labyrinth, while bringing a fullness to the soundtrack. Dialog and on screen action was strong and clear. With regards to immersive action, most of the film is fairly front heavy, with sounds then being replicated into surrounds for more ambiance but not a ton of discrete sounds in the surrounds and overheads (more engulfing, less specific sounds for your ears to track). That said, care was clearly taken to create both echoes (when appropriate) and airiness in the presentation and really immerse you in the environment. It was a delight to listen to over the older 2009 TrueHD 5.1 version.
LFE and bass tracks were strong and enriching the musical experience, and sounds of thunder in a couple of scenes.. The music came to life with low sustained bass/pedal tones in several sounds in the soundtrack, both giving your subs a workout and causing your chest to pleasantly rumble with their authority.
This release also includes DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. Both are definitely a step down with the 2.0 actually being preferred of the two for its loyalty to the original release, but a far distant second to the stunning Atmos mix.
A couple of nit picks in the action scenes especially in the b battle scenes with the rocks towards the climax of the film. Often in the overheads, there were audio details that did not really make sense to be overhead in isolation, but were not distracting with the full mix playing out. For example, often the gunfire shown on scene was coming through the was replicated in the rear heights, which while did play the spaciousness, did not really make much sense as the scene is outdoors and the amount of echo would have been limited. Again this type of thing is a nit-pick and not something I would knock the score down for.
Turning off the bed layer and listening to just what was coming from overhead only found a few examples through the film with discrete overhead activity, and more strangely almost none in the major action scenes. Giving the audio mix team a break, many of the action scenes take place inside buildings and on boats, but as active as the ear-level surrounds were, it was a bit shocking to notice almost nothing overhead even to help build the ambient environment, or even brief usage of overheads sounds when the scene could support it. Even in the club scene with music coming from all around, the overhead speakers were silent. Yet in a transition scene just before the climactic action scene of the film, while Frank Grillo’s character is speaking on the phone to his supervisor, there was the clear sound of a helicopter overhead and some water splashing down from a broken pipe that is spraying into the air. Both of these details were not a focus of the scene and so were purely there for ambiance. Why they chose to add in overhead effects in one scene over the other remains a bit head-scratching, especially given the overall strength of the mix.
Audio Score (4K/BR): 4.6 / 5
Special Features and Packaging:
Packaging is where this release separates itself from the 30th anniversary release. The 30th anniversary 4K surprisingly came in a standard case, where the stand-alone came with a Digibook. Sony clearly rectified that miss here with a great looking (and feeling) Digibook. The leather feels great, with enticing imagery, script notes and details in the included pages and the discs remaining safe and secure. The book’s cover is well protected within a plastic slipcover which adds additional details and the titles to the presentation.
Special features are mostly re-purposed from the 30th anniversary release, with a couple of new additions. New for this release are the lost alternate scenes as well as audition recordings. All special features are in either HD or SD quality (the latter including things like lost scenes that likely no longer exist in the higher quality format). Even though mostly re-purposed, these special features are quite enjoyable, including several featurettes, and longer form contention the making of the movie, as well as casting clips, and trailers. A treat for any lover of the movie, but maybe not a reason to buy if that’s the only thing you are looking for over the 30th anniversary release.
Features Score: 4.5 / 5
This one is pretty common sense to me if you don’t own the movie. It’s a definite disc to pick up.
Upgrading is a little more complicated, but still pretty straightforward. If you own the 30th anniversary 4K release, and are only looking at the visual and audio presentation as a reason to upgrade, I would not recommend an upgrade as the improvements on those two aspects are only subtle and the 30th anniversary release is already excellent.. But If you are looking at the packaging aspects for your collection, this is definitely a step up. So if that is important to you, then I certainly would consider selling the 2016 version in order to offset the cost of upgrading to this release.
If you own the 30th anniversary Digibook Blu-ray, then YES, but at a lower price (currently still a little high as of writing).If you own a DVD or the older 2009 Blu-ray, then this is a definite upgrade.
If you own a DVD or the older 2009 Blu-ray, then this is a definite upgrade.
Buy Recommendation: YES!
Upgrade Recommendation: Possibly… (depends on what you currently own and what you value)
If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon
Summary and Overall Scores:
Sony once again shows everyone how to restore a film in 4K, and while some may think releasing yet another 4K of this film is a cash grab, it is less so because they clearly recognized that the collecting community was a bit disappointed in the 30th anniversary 4K packaging, and they even went back in added in some refinements to the image quality to top it off. While the movie itself may or may not be your “cup of tea,” if it is then I am happy this particular release exists in my collection.
Experience Score**: 4.7 / 5
** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.
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