Movie: "Pan's Labyrinth"
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Writing credits: Guillermo del Toro
Plot: During the Spanish Civil War, a young girl enters a dark fantasy world to escape the brutal reality offered by her new soldier stepfather.
Review: Pan's Labyrinth is a dark horror fantasy set during the Spanish Civil War, and has all the love and charm you might expect from a story with a brutal war as its backdrop. This is an oldschool Grimm style fairy tale, hopeless and depressing, the kind where the child protagonist is usually made an example of, and things don't necessarily end happily ever after (at least not in my interpretation of the ambiguous ending).
The film is in Spanish with subtitles, so if you don't like to read just don't even bother. Chances are this movie is too smart for you anyway. Guillermo del Toro brings all the visual flair you'd expect from the guy who brought us Hellboy, only this film is way, way prettier. The creature design is most impressive, especially on the freaky creature with the eyes in his hands. I don't know what you call that thing, but it's damn scary looking. Del Toro wisely chose to use make up, prosthetics and puppets in addition to CGI, rather than falling into the "nothing but CGI" trap that plagues so many genre films these days (and leaves them looking like crap).
Doug Jones is a great physical actor as always in the role of the Faun, and I don't know if it's the fact that I don't understand Spanish that made his voice seem more otherworldly and menacing or not, but he's one of the creepiest creatures I've seen in a movie in some time. Why the little girl would ever trust a guy like that is beyond me. There are actually a couple times in the film where the protagonist's actions don't make sense to me (why would you take the food when you were warned not to? WHY??), but then I have to remember, she is a child, and children are often quite stupid.
Unfortunately this film was only in American theaters for about two blinks of an eye, so if you never saw it, you should definitely check it out. Even if the story wasn't engrossing and moving, just the beautiful visuals alone would make it worth the price of admission. It's without a doubt Del Toro's finest work.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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