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Pan's Labyrinth
15 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Guillermo del Toro

Written By:
Guillermo del Toro

Maribel Verdu, Ariadna Gil, Alex Angulo, Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Sergi Lopez (II)

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Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
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Movie Review by Max
July 2nd, 2007

When I first heard the rumors about Pan's Labyrinth I thought it might be a dark fairy tale much like P.J. Hogan's live action Peter Pan(2003, though I also thought the film had something to do with Peter Pan), something happy and yet at the same time shrouded in darkness with a possible hint of evil. Enough with what I've heard about this film. The point is... Pan's Labyrinth is not the amazing masterpiece of Guillermo Del Toro that everyone, including most of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts, seems to think it is. There are a number of things wrong with Pan's Labyrinth, that frankly, you would have thought the moment these filmmakers received a script they would have realized, there is something very uncomfortable about this film. Unfortunately, how can one stop a director who's written his own script?

In the beginning of the film, we are told about Princess Moana, a girl who was royalty in the underground world who became curious of the world and fled her kingdom to the world above, but was lost forever because the power of the sun (haven't heard that since I drank Sunny Delight) blotted out her memories. Her father, the king of the underground world believed she would one day return to his kingdom in one form or another.

The film then cuts to the setting of the story, post-Civil War Spain of 1944. Franco has recently come into power, and a young girl, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) is forced to live with her step-father, Captain Vidal (Sergi López), along with her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil, who is pregnant caring Vidal's baby). At first one may think Vidal is just a war-type stepfather, but his unrelenting devotion to facism and coldness to his wife and stepdaughter is unmissable. His only concern is his father's death, a once famed commander in Morrocco, taking his emotions and violence out on his family and the Republican rebels he has been assigned to destroy while staying at a country side mill.

During the trip to the mill, Ofelia discovers a large stick-bug she believes to be a fairy. When she arrives, she follows it to a Labyrinth, but is stopped from entering by Mercedes (Maribel Verdú),a maid working out the mill who is secretly a Republican rebel spy. When she arrives it seeks her out one night and transfigures itself to a more human form, where it leads Ofelia out of her bedroom into a Labyrinth not far from the house. In the Labyrinth, she encounters the faun (Doug Jones), an ancient creature that resembles both a human and a goat. The creature believes her to be the Princess Moana and assigns her three tasks to prove that her "essence is intact."

I understand the underlying themes of the film, those were not very hard at all to understand. The grim war that is taking place is creating an unpleasant world that can do nothing but scare a child into their fantasies, a place where they can escape to when the rest of the world is all too cruel. However, I think that is where this film makes one of its biggest mistakes. This fantasy world does not appear friendly at all, but feels just as grim as the rest of the world. The most uncomfortable element of the film I felt was the the faun character, who he himself seemed to have dark intentions towards Ofelia and one cannot help but not trust him. Is this creature of fantasy a sexual predator?

It is also extremely hard to understand who exactly this film is meant for. It has been rated R by the motion picture association of America, but is both a brutal war picture and fairly tale. It is much too extreme for children, but a feels a bit too simple for adults. At the same time, it lacks a lot of substance. We recieve a rather simple tale about war and fantasy, but when one expects to be running across the plains alongside a lion, you're just riding in a car on a highway and look to see a deer off in the distance. This is where Del Toro has made his grave mistakes.

I cannot deny that the film does present some amazing costumes and art direction. The fantasy world presented may be grim, but at the same time it is intriguing, as are some elements of the war torn country side in which Ofelia's father is ravaging. The makeup effects on Doug Jones is fantastic and though some of the hall of the pale man is grim, it is very tempting and leaves you curious about more of the world underground.

Though the performances are very pleasing from all the major characters, the grim mood of the entire film that you are even left with at the end is not something you want to be leaving with. I felt it was impossible to enjoy the film The Brother's Grimm for almost all the same reasons. This kind of a film should be left at an experimental level and left as part of the avant-garde cinema, save the excellent storylines and other elements of films for audiences that are paying their money and don't feel like going to see a film that is going to keep them depressed for hours after its viewing.

Read the rest of this review at http://www.maximu

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Nov 12, 2008 10:59 PM
The movie is too sad? Is that all?

This review sucks.

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