Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review


Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review
Which Doug Jones looks better? Why choose? Both are in this.
From Joe's Shelf

Pan's Labyrinth

A young girl in post-civil war Spain, discovers that she has a fantastical destiny awaiting her if she completes three tasks that are given to her by a mysterious Faun (man-goat). Occasionally, I come across films that I feel have not gotten the long-term appreciation that they deserve. Pan's Labyrinth is probably the one that I feel the most strongly about. Sure, it got lots of attention back in 2006 and early 2007 during the awards season (three Oscar wins), but then no one really talked about it anymore.

This is a stunningly beautiful film that deserves to be up there with all of the classic fairy tales. Now it's not for any preteens. This is for adults who like a little darkness with their fables. You know, like the original stories of The Little Mermaid and/or Hansel and Gretel. Director Guillermo del Toro (Blade II, Hellboy 1 & 2) crafted this entire film from his own vivid mind. But even though his brilliance was enough to conjure up and direct this gem, his choices in cast and crew members were just as important in bringing his vision to life.

The musical score by Javier Navarret (Wrath of the Titans) is tear inducing at times. The cinematography of Guillermo Navarro (Pacific Rim), reminds me of Andrew Lesnie's from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The seamless editing of Bernat Vilaplana (Crimson Peak), the makeup, the costumes, the production designs... Every piece of the inner workings in this film, gels perfectly together like an intricate watch, and the mythology itself holds it all together. The gore can be a bit extreme during a few moments, but you should already know what you're getting into with del Toro at the helm.

Did I fail to mention that this entire film is spoken in Spanish? Now some English speaking Americans may have a problem with that, but I on the other hand do not. It adds to the authenticity of Pan's Labyrinth's settings in Spain. The all Spanish main cast (with the exception of Doug Jones, Quarantine) is well picked and sells their characters nicely. Ivana Baquero (The New Daughter) as Ofelia the little girl, has a heart as big as her level of defiance towards unproven authority. Maribel Verdú (Y Tu Mamá También) as a housekeeper and rebel spy, is powerfully passionate when she's not pretending to be the evil Captain's timid trustee.

Sergi López (Dirty Pretty Things) as the sadistic Captain Vidal, is so good at being bad, that you hate him from the very first moment he's shown. This guy has issues, and he's not afraid to take them out on anybody who disagrees with him. The shift in tone from a civil war film to a dark fantasy, may seem like a ridiculous concept, but del Toro & crew makes it work exquisitely. Famous costume actor Doug Jones, plays two different creatures that are night and day to each other, yet both creepily presented and bewitching in design. A decade later, and the visuals still hold up. You know why? Because the computer effects in this movie are sparingly used to flavor the visuals, not over-saturate them.

Highs- Vidal's shaving sessions (cinematography), the tree frog, the mandrake milk bowl, the Pale Man sequence, Vidal's forest shoot out, some facial karma for Vidal, and a sad ending that's also beautiful.

Lows- This two-hour film could well have been a three-hour epic that had much more insight into the characters and mythology. The tasks of Ofelia could have been a bit longer as well.

Pan's Labyrinth is an astounding achievement and is the best film in Guillermo del Toro's library. Why it's not shown or mentioned anymore, is an insult to solid filmmaking. If del Toro went all out to make this, shouldn't we (movie lovers) do our part to keep his vision alive? Please see this movie and stay away from the English-dubbed versions; They're horrible.
Rating- 9 out of 10

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
El laberinto del fauno (original title)
R | 1h 58min | Drama, Fantasy, War | 19 January 2007 (USA)
In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López