Gremlins 4K Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Gremlins is a wildly original roller-coaster ride of hilarious mischief. One minute your hair will stand on end, the next you’ll hold your sides with laughter at the havoc these supposedly gentle furballs create when the rules surrounding their care and feeding are inadvertently broken one fateful Christmas. Written by Chris Columbus and directed by Joe Dante, Gremlins unleashes special effects that dazzle and enchant and merriment that lingers in the memory.
Gremlins Movie Review
I haven’t seen Gremlins since I was a kid and was worried about if it would be too scary for my kids to watch. After watching it, I’m sure they are a bit too young for it, and it wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered. Billy gets Gizmo as a gift from his father, who somewhat steals it from its actual owner. Once he has Gizmo Billy seems unconcerned with keeping him safe, letting him get wet and then exploiting this later to make another mogwai to be experimented on. He already seems to have been irresponsible with his dog, who got loose and destroyed a snowman before attacking a bank customer, so he clearly wasn’t the person to watch after Gizmo.
The only character that is responsible in the film is Kate. She cares about other people, and works hard to help everyone out, but is basically relegated to playing the role of the love interest of Billy, and is powerless to help destroy the Gremlins despite being so self-sufficient the rest of the time. As far as my kids watching, there’s a 4-5 minute span where a Gremlin is stabbed, another one killed in a food processor, one sprayed with poison, one explodes in the microwave, and one is burned alive in the fireplace. It’s made a bit worse by them being puppets instead of CGI that they would be today, so maybe in a few years, the kids will want to watch. But hopefully, they won’t, since the movie didn’t hold up as well as I hoped it would.
Gremlins Technical Review
Gremlins was shot on 35mm film and looks to have an updated transfer for release on Blu-ray, but the notes didn’t specify that it was a new 4K one. The disc uses HDR10 without any dynamic metadata. The transfer has its high points and low points that you can see from the opening credits. The title and credits themselves are razor-sharp but the background images are just slightly out of focus, which is how it must be on the negative. Brighter scenes have more fine detail, but some scenes are so dark as to wash out almost all the shadow details. Inside the pub with the Gremlins, there are times where the shadows are too dark to see much. When you first see Gizmo it is also very dark, with fine details being hidden away.
HDR is used sparingly with the main elements being some Christmas lights, police car sires, headlights, and a few fires or spark explosions. Those are fine, but the overall light level is typically low. The MaxFALL for the disc is only 97 nits, so no single scene is brighter than an SDR image would be overall. The image is not one that you’re going to use for showing off your home theater, and the original elements likely aren’t amazing, but it looks fine on disc. It’s not great, but I doubt WB could have done more with this no matter what.
The soundtrack is a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio affair that is OK with some moments of bass but typically most action anchored at the front of the soundstage. The surrounds are used some but not continually and there are no height channels here either. Overall this is just fine but nothing impressive.
Gremlins looks fine on 4K UltraHD, given that it was released in the 1980s and was shot on 35mm film. It likely will never look better than this, so fans can go ahead and pick up a copy, but it isn’t reference material.
Gremlins Special Features
- Filmmakers’ Commentary with Director Joe Dante, Producer Michael Finnell and Special Effects Artist Chris Walas
- Cast Commentary with Director Joe Dante, Zack Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller, and Howie Mandel
- Gremlins: Behind the Scenes Featurette
- Additional Scenes with Commentary
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailers
- Additional Scenes
- Cute. Clever. Mischievous. Intelligent: Making Gremlins
- Gremlins: The Gift of the Mogwai (motion comic)
- The Last Gremlin (motion comic)
- From Gizmo to Gremlins: Creating the Creatures
- Hangin’ with Hoyt on the set of Gremlins
Gremlins Review System
Sony A1E OLED, Panasonic UB820 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver, Power Sound Audio Subwoofer.
Probably as good as the film will look considering the original elements.
Image quality isn't great with loss of dark detail, not much use of HDR overall and a flat, darker image. The soundtrack only a 5.1 channel affair and the movie just didn't hold up for me.
Fans of Gremlins will want to pick up this disc as it's unlikely to ever look better, and they seem unlikely to do an Atmos soundtrack. But if you haven't watched since you were a child, it might not hold up as well as you hope.