Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition Ultra HD Blu-ray review

Jim Henson's classic fantasy film receives an a-maze-ing 4K makeover

Labyrinth feels at times rather awkward, laboured and, yes, ‘of its time’. With the combined creative forces of Jim Henson, David Bowie, Terry Jones and George Lucas infused into almost every frame, though, it’s blissfully impossible to separate Labyrinth from the nostalgia associated with a pre-CGI era willing to back real imagination over endless formulaic sequels. As such it’s a title every serious film fan should own.

Is it worth stumping up for the UHD Blu-ray version, though? Yes, it is...

Picture: Derived from a 4K scan of an original 35mm negative, the UHD BD enjoys a much more detailed appearance than the standard BD. This makes the image feel fresher, more alive, and more natural, as well as adding to your appreciation of the artistry involved in crafting all the sets and puppets.

The fantastical locations – especially the Oubliette – also look more magical thanks to the extra luminosity and contrast introduced by the disc's HDR support, and while colours don’t generally look much more vivid than they do on the BD, they’re noticeably more subtle, again making the film’s creature creations more immediate and ‘alive’.

People accustomed to the ultra-smooth, polished finishes associated with most UHD Blu-rays might be startled by the amount of grain visible in the Labyrinth transfer. However, while there is a slightly processed look to some of this grain, it’s mostly no more than you should expect with a faithful 4K scan of an 80s-era 35mm negative. Plus, the grain arguably helps hide any artificiality in the film’s sets and puppets.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio rating: The new Dolby Atmos soundtrack isn’t quite as effective as I’d hoped, only really wowing with the extra dimensionality during the most dramatic moments and the song-and-dance numbers. It also leaves Bowie’s songs sounding slightly less engaging than they do with the simpler Dolby mix. It’s still good to see Sony going to the trouble of adding Atmos to such an old title, though.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras rating: Wrapping up this 30th Anniversary package is an extensive suite of extra features. Making a repeat appearance from the old 2009 Blu-ray are a chat-track by conceptual designer Brian Froud, an hour-long Making of…, two additional half-hour featureless and a Picture-in-Picture viewing mode. New features take the form of an anniversary Q&A and a trio of retrospectives talking to the cast and crew about the film, working with David Bowie and Jim Henson’s legacy.
Extras rating: 4.5/5

We say: This 4K outing proves that, if used properly, the format can be every bit as important to old films as the latest blockbusters.

Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition, Sony Pictures, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £30