Sunday, January 21, 2007

MOVIE REVIEW: Pan's Labyrinth

Let me just say for the record that I don't like foreign films. The main reason for this dislike started while at film school when I was forced to endure the French New Wave for film appreciation. They were so bad I would have preferred to watch Harvey Keitel naked reading a phone book. I know that sounds extreme but these movies were god awful. Pan's Labyrinth however has made me re-think my former prejudices. The film was directed by Guillermo del Torro who also directed Hellboy, Blade II and Cronos. Admittedly del Torro is not a typical foreign film director, he is very comfortable directing a big American Hollywood picture, but he has brought something amazing to this film.

The story takes place in Northern Spain during World War II, 1944 during Franco's Fascist regime. A young girl, Ofelia(Ivana Baquero), and her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil) move in with, one could say, a bastard Captain (Sergi Lopez) in the Franco army. (If you’ve seen the movie you'll know what I mean.) This Captain orders everyone from servants, to doctors even to little Ofelia to do his bidding without question or complaint. One night as Ophelia investigates the grounds she discovers a mysterious Labyrinth and its strange occupant, a Faun (Doug Jones). Ophelia tries to cope with the harsh realities of this world by immersing herself in the Fairy tale one, angering the Captain and her mother. The only one who seems to listen to her is a kindly house maid (Maribel Verdu), but there is more to her than meets the eye. I have to tell you though this fairy tale world ain't like Mary Poppins or Alice in Wonderland. There are some disturbing and dangerous creatures like the Pale Man (Doug Jones) who has eyes in his palms and has a penchant for snacking on children. Del Torro does a wonderful job of guiding us through both worlds seamlessly and with great care. It is very difficult to tell at times when the real world ends and the fantasy one begins.

At Comic-Con in San Diego last year I missed Guillermo del Torro's panel on this movie and I'm kicking myself now. My friend's who were able to attend told me that he was funny and he liked to curse a lot. He also likes dark fairy tales, especially Grimm's Fairy tales. He likes them violent, and let me tell you this film does not disappoint in that regard. As sick and twisted as Pan's fantasy world may be the real one that del Torro throws us into is far worse. So what more can I say it was shot beautifully, it was incredibly violent, but beautiful none the less. I'm sure Speck will have a few things to say about that. I would think he would agree with me on most of these points. If you haven't seen this one please do it is by far one of the best of 2006-2007 and I hope it does very well at the Oscars next month.

Grade: 5 Buckets


Captain Mike said...

"The 400 Blows" is a great movie, you Xenophobe.

G.I. Jeff said...

That movie actually is one of the few I actually liked. I also liked Breathless so leave me alone.

Speck said...

This movie is quite simply...amazing.

My top 3 movies for 2006 are:

The Prestige
Children of Men
Pan's Labyrinth

Sadly, they all pretty much got forked by what has to be one of the worst and most pathetic line ups in Academy history. I really wish they would get disbanded.

At least The 1st two are in for Cinematography, where I think Prestige should win..but I think Children of Men will get it.

And I think PL should have been nominated in that category, too...but its just a lowly foreign film, right...boooo