Making the (Up)Grade: Gremlins and Pan’s Labyrinth on 4K Ultra HD

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This month brings a pair of classic films, Gremlins and Pan’s Labyrinth, to the 4K era, but is the upgrade worth picking up in physical release, or should you wait it out? 

We are firmly in the next stage of movie media with 4K Ultra HD and that means a bunch of films are making the jump to the latest and greatest. Movie lovers find themselves facing the choice to upgrade their collections for their favorites, but it’s not always easy…That’s where we come in!

With some of these older films making the transition to the latest media platform, there’s not necessarily a need to do a brand new “review” of the films. After all, many of these are movies you’ve already watched/enjoyed and there’s little reason to rehash what makes them great. Instead, we’ll kick off a new article series specifically for these kinds of titles to help you determine if the jump to the new format is worth picking up, or if you should stick with what you have for the time being.

Both Gremlins and Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth made the jump to 4K Ultra HD at the start of this month, so they seem like the perfect candidates to begin with!

Gremlins

This shiny new 4K disc comes as part of the film’s 35th anniversary, marking a major milestone for the horror/comedy creature feature. Thankfully, Warner Bros. has delivered on the occasion with the best looking transfer this film has ever received. Fans of the film undoubtedly remember the poor quality of the initial blu-ray (released in 2009), so you’ll be more than happy to note the marked improvement on the overall quality.

Scenes stand out in sharp clarity, making the film feel fresh and like you’re watching it the way the director intended. Aside from some sequences feeling a bit darker than they should, the overall picture quality on the 4K is impressive.

As such, it seems all the more weird that the blu-ray disc they’ve included in the release is the same horrible quality transfer from previous releases. I mean, if you want to see how bad it could be, it’s nice for comparison purposes, but it would have been nice to also get a better 1080p transfer to go along with it.

While the film itself looks impressive in 4K and something fans will be more than happy to pop in the player during the holiday season, there sadly isn’t much more to enjoy with this release. The only bonus features we get are included on the blu-ray disc and are the EXACT same ones from the original 2009 release. Inexplicably, all of the bonus features from the 2014 “Diamond Luxe” blu-ray release of Gremlins are missing; even though the initial press release had them listed as part of the new set!

It’s weird. Not only are those bonus features superior to the others that are included, you’d think a special Anniversary release would want to include MORE extras instead of taking them away. As such, the release feels a bit lackluster and a missed opportunity, but there’s no denying the superior image quality you get. The 4K upgrade is worth it alone just to be able to watch Gremlins the way it’s intended, though it’s a bummer little else of value comes in the set.

Pan’s Labyrinth

Just in time for Halloween, WB has released Guillermo del Toro’s horror/fantasy, Pan’s Labyrinth on 4K Ultra HD. If for some reason you still haven’t seen this incredible film, just go ahead buy this release right now. It’s a great story that continues to resonate and features imagery that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

The 4K release offers the best visual presentation so far for the movie, delivering a better quality image than even the Criterion blu-ray from a few years back. The new transfer allows for clarity even in the darkest scenes (some of them feel like it’s almost pitch black), keeping you tuned into the actions of the characters.

Much like Gremlins, the blu-ray disc that comes packaged with it is the far inferior original blu-ray release of the film. This also means all of the same bonus features come included as well from the initial release. The only difference being you get the director’s commentary on the 4K disc as well, but everything else is gonna be on the blu-ray disc. While it would have been nice to have some extra featurettes included on this release, it’s nice enough to have an upgrade transfer of the film itself.


If you’re a fan of these movies, there’s no reason to skip out on the upgrade. The 4K Ultra HD releases are by far the best home entertainment versions of these films. While the lack of extras (and inclusion of the horrible blu-ray transfers) are a bummer, they’re far from a deal breaker. Go for the upgrade on Gremlins and Pan’s Labyrinth.