Exclusive to online retailer Zavvi, this is Labyrinth's second dalliance with the UHD format, following its first 4K release which coincided with the film's 30th anniversary in 2016. While that original effort was certainly an agreeable endeavour, this latest edition benefits from Dolby Vision, which enhances the picture quality beyond what was seen in the previous release, and throws in enough never-before-seen extras that make the overall package more than worth your time.
The movie itself needs little in the way of introduction – slightly bratty but good-at-heart teenager heads into David Bowie's puppet-filled labyrinth to rescue her baby brother – but there's every chance that revisiting the Goblin City and its surroundings on this release may well give you a whole new level of appreciation for the work that went into the film's production. The HDR makeover really brings out a lot of the finer details, to the point where you're likely to keep reaching for the pause button to take everything in. The iconic “Magic Dance” scene is a prime example – try to get through the entire song without stopping to examine just how grotesque Jareth's puppet pals really are. It isn't possible! As great as everything looks, the upgrade does rather show up some of the more primitive special effects that were used, with a few scenes looking a bit more ropey than you might have wanted. Nevertheless, a couple of dodgy special effects aren't enough to take too much away from one of the most magical films ever made.
26 minutes' worth of alternate takes and extended scenes are included in the special features, many of which are in a sort-of-nearly-but-not-quite-finished state, with a fair few temporary visual effect markers and blue-screen shots. Highlights include a full-length version of “Magic Dance” with additional footage of the goblins larking about in Jareth's chamber to the sound of a slightly wobbly demo vocal take, and footage of characters being voiced by their original puppeteers (so you get Red from Fraggle Rock voicing The Worm and Sir Didymus with the voice of Gonzo from The Muppets). As an added bonus, Brian Henson, son of Jim and the voice of Hoggle, provides a really warm, friendly, animated and informative audio commentary, too. As you'd imagine, after most likely languishing in some sort of storage container for 30-odd years, the picture quality isn't too hot, but long-time fans of the film will surely be nothing less than absolutely delighted to get such a revealing glimpse behind the curtain. Elsewhere, we're treated to almost a full hour of audition footage where seven different actresses try out for the role of Sarah. The most notable of these is Molly Ringwald, but eagle-eyed viewers might also spot a budding future scream queen (Jill Schoelen) and Marty McFly's original significant other (Claudia Wells). Again, the video quality isn't great, but it's still fascinating and very welcome look into a world that few of us get to see.
The package also contains the previous Blu-ray edition, extras and all. If you already own that one, there's nothing else new on this BR disc, but if you might be catching up from the DVD era then this second disc provides a further two hours' worth of extras to get stuck into, including a really wonderful hour-long behind the scenes documentary. To top it all off, there's some fancy packaging and a 28-page book, neither of which were provided for review but the photos sure make them look fancy!
It's hard to imagine what more anyone could want from a 2021 edition of Labyrinth – the main feature has been tarted up to the highest possible specifications, all of the previously-released extras make an appearance, and you get to spend an hour and a half with some truly fascinating “lost” footage. If you're a fan of the film and you've got the hardware to get the most out of the UHD format, there's no doubt that this 35th anniversary edition 100% needs to be part of your collection.