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Review: Pan's Labyrinth

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posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 03:00 PM
Review: Pan's Labyrinth

I walked into this movie with the wrong idea. From the trailers, Pan's Labyrinth, or "El Laberinto del Fauno" looked like a darker version of Labyrinth, with CGI instead of puppets, and some good old fashioned mythology thrown in.

In point of fact, the vast majority of the movie has absolutely nothing to do with Pan or his Labyrinth. It is a war story between a remote outpost of one of Francisco Franco's most ruthless Captains (played by Sergi López) and a group of rebels trying to survive in the wilderness nearby.

Within this real-world 1944 setting, Carmen (played by Ariadna Gil), whom has just married the Captain, and is pregnant, brings her daughter with her to live in the outpost. Uprooted, scared, and not liking her new father very much, the daughter Ofelia (played by Ivana Baquero) begins to imagine (presumably) a fantasy world opening up to her, fulfilling her fantasies of a chance to meet her real mother and father, and be the Princess of a Magical Kingdom.

The movie strikes the same sort of cord with many who watch it that enjoy Harry Potter: the dream of a child to find out that they are special, and that their parents are really someone else far more impressive than the people raising them. There are several plots within plots in this movie, and one would have to see it several times to catch all the obscure references, subplots, symbolism, and ties. I was impressed with the movie, although I kind of wish there'd been a little more Labyrinth, and a little less War Story. Still, to be fair, I walked into the movie with the wrong idea.

The acting in the movie firmly goes to Sergi López (Capitán Vidal). He was every bit as cold and inhuman as one would expect, yet confident, graceful, suave, and intelligent. He made a fantastic villain. There was just enough connection to his humanity (the obsession with having a son) and explaining of himself to make you believe he was a real person, but enough of a monster to make you hate him for it. Oh, and how I hated this man.

Second place in the acting would go to Ivana Baquero (Ofelia). All too often in movies, the kids are cheeky little bastards that run circles around the adults, accomplish impossible feats of engineering in seconds, and have hackneyed acting skills equivolent to the part written for them. Ofelia acts exactly like you'd expect a scared tomboy of a girl to act were she suddenly stuck out in the middle of a creeky old fort in the woods with a psychotic father in law. She is scared of him, scared of the place, but brave in her own right as she combats the challenges from her fantasy world. This girl has a bright future ahead of her.

The special effects were nothing to write home about, sadly. There was nothing I saw that couldn't have been done ten years ago, and perhaps better. However, it's easy to look past this because, after all, the movie wasn't about the special effects. It was about the story of a girl trying to survive a setting no child should ever be brought into. However, this guy really really creeped the hell out of me, and actually showed up once or twice in a nightmare since watching the flick.

The music wasn't memorable, but neither did it detract. It's one of those situations where it was done adequately, but not to the extent I would go purchase the soundtrack (which, incidentally, I did do for Henson's Labyrinth, but I was also much younger then).

The set and costuming seemed very believable, but never having paid much attention to that era of Spain's history, I couldn't possibly judge the accuracy of any part of this film. Thankfully, I really didn't need to.

Overall I give Pan's Labyrinth a 7.5 out of 10. If, however, you are a fan of films like "City of Lost Children", "Labyrinth", and the like, then give it an additional point, because of genre interest.

At the end I was left with two big questions. One was whether or not those Labyrinths ever really existed in Spain, and the other is whether or not there was supposed to be a heavy Catholic undertone to the story (her Father's Kingdom), or if that's just my own interpretation...

posted on Apr, 10 2007 @ 11:05 AM
Beautiful film. Pan's Labyrinth was definitely del Toro's best. The Devil's Backbone has definitely taken a back seat to this film.

posted on Jun, 8 2007 @ 01:01 PM
I enjoyed pans labrynth but i enjoyed the devils backbone a lot more.

posted on Jul, 11 2007 @ 05:23 PM
I picked up this movie without knowing anything about it and was actually surprised when it had subtitles

I thought it was very well done and enjoyed it immensely.

posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 03:06 PM
I actually went with my wife and saw it in the theater (before the Oscar buzz)... Personally, I loved the movie, and I wonder how many others I've missed, just due to subtitling.... I'm glad I saw it, even though only one other couple was in the theatre, lol....

I even tried getting friends to see it, but they won't get past the subtitles...

Anyhoo, while the effects didn't make you go wow, they didn't detract either, and the story and the acting, were brilliant. We were definitely cheering on this little movie that could (and did)....


posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 03:17 PM
Heard about the movie, couldn't wait to see it on the big screen, finally got the chance and was blown away by it.

The camera work was exceptional, both in color enhancements (sepia tones, etc) and in taking the viewer on a ride.

The settings were spectacular, the special effects passable, the story line remarkable and intimidating due to the schisms created between a girl in a fairy tale set against the murderous backdrop of a brutal war.

Engrossing and unfortunately, ignored by many cinema venues.

I give it two bananas up.

[edit on 12-7-2007 by Lug]

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