Pan’s Labyrinth—New Line (Blu-ray)
Last year director Guillermo Del Toro scored a huge hit with the international release of Pan's Labyrinth. The film went on to win acclaim at most of the film festivals and even got a few Oscar nominations including Best Foreign Film. This adult fairy tale is a dark and twisted ride that shows the more horrific side of war painted alongside a child's imagination. The film takes place during the later part of World War II in Spain where a pregnant mother and young child move in with a vicious Spanish captain who is trying to track down and kill the last of the resistance in the area. The young girl is lured by a fairy into a labyrinth near the headquarters and meets a Fawn who has the key to a kingdom long forgot. The young girl faces challenges to enter the kingdom while also dealing with the horrors around her.
New Line is one of the newest members of the HD crowd but hasn't stumbled a bit out of the door in terms of presentation. This HD transfer is exquisite in detail and dimension and shows just how good HD can look. I have no doubts that New Line put the master through some type of noise reduction filter since the image is completely devoid of film grain. Thankfully this doesn’t impede on the fine object detail at all and ringing is nary to be seen. Colors are a bit overcooked at times, but lend to the surreal imagery at times. Blacks are slightly elevated but contrast is still exceptional and I was impressed with the dimension of the image even in the darkest moments. The intense visual style of this movie is a treat in HD and I'm glad to see New Line give it the attention it deserves.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is presented in its native Spanish dub and, like the visuals, creates an outstanding environment. The sound design of this film is superb with aggressive use of ambience to heighten the listening experience. Dynamics are as good as they come and the score can be frightening at times combined with the imagery. There are some nice infrasonics in the low end that are nearly system threatening and deep bass is delivered without distortion. The surround soundstage is constantly active and the inclusion of discrete rear channel effects makes for an even more spatial experience. A real sonic treat.
Talk about a full package! New Line has included all of the features from the previous DVD release and a few new goodies. There is a picture-in-picture option that lets you look at production footage, interviews and commentary all while watching the film. On top of that are numerous production features covering everything from location, makeup, production design, visual effects, and set design. Other features include interviews, an introduction to the film by the director, animated prequel stories for some of the key fantasy characters of the film, galleries and more. One of the most fully loaded HD discs I've seen!
This is a dark fairy tale that is a rare treat for adults and definitely not for the younger viewers. New Line has delivered a breathtaking A/V presentation and one of the best supplement packages I've seen. Highly recommended!