Posted by: kfugrip | September 23, 2007

Ninety-three: Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, was on cable last night and while it wasn’t high on my list of movies to see I thought I’d check it out. It wasn’t so much that I was against seeing Pan’s Labyrinth, I was into it, I just don’t trust Del Toro. I didn’t like The Devil’s Backbone, and it goes without saying that Mimic, Blade 2 and Hellboy are not my type of movie.

Pan’s Labyrinth is the story of a little girl who, with her pregnant mother, goes to live in the country with her step father, a fascist Captain. The girl is introduced to a magical world where she is a princess at the same time as the conflict between the fascists and the rebels explodes around her. The movie contains violent and gory scenes as well as the spectacle of fairies and fauns.

What I liked: The visuals are rich, like all the other Del Toro films I’ve seen. The design of all the creatures and the way they move is interesting. The plot interweaves the two elements well. The mixing of fairy tale and war drama is a fascinating mix and Del Toro makes it work.

What I didn’t like: The visuals are the only thing draws me to this movie. Most people who like effects movies would be in awe at the beautiful computer effects and how they blend with the other footage. I find them distracting. The don’t look real and more importantly they don’t look like they are part of the environment. So that’s a negative. I also didn’t particularly care about anyone in the film.

The film wasn’t that memorable. It wasn’t bad, it was skillfully made, but rather pointless, a frame on which to hang some interesting visuals.

3 stars

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Responses

  1. I just saw this film about 2 weeks ago. I was excited to see it, for all of the same reasons you mentioned, but was let down after the fact. The visuals were alright, and I know this movie was a labor of love for the director, but to me it seemed like it never really got off the ground as far as plot development. I finished the movie thinking two things to myself – 1) Too long, and 2) Um, that’s it? That’s what I just watched? Really? -kk

  2. Im surprised at the lack of depth in the review of this film. No analysis of Del Toro equating the Catholic clergery in Spain to facisits? No analysis of the scene where a faceless monster attempts to devour the girl?

    I think the director was making a faith statement with this movie. I think that statement is that one must have faith in something, especially in the face of evil and that you owe it to yourself to maintain your faith even as others may try to twist it or change it. Pretty timely message, Id say.

    There is more meat to this film than is let on by this review. After watching the film, I did not especially care for the girl however, I think the intent of the film was to send a message and that message is more important to the director than plot, story or the acting.

    This movie also contained one of the most manly scenes ever. A military captain shaving with a straight razor while smoking and blasting classical/facsit music. Probably how men should shave.

  3. Yeah, sometimes the reviews are shallow and this was one of the most obvious ones due in part to my lack of interest in the movie. I agree that the film was working heavily on a symbolic level, anytime one juxtaposes the fantasy with something as terrible as fascism there is symbolism at work, I just don’t think it was that effective. Del Toro was interested in conveying a message, whether it was about faith or not, but I think you are giving him too much credit. I think that the fantasy world, and the baroque visuals are what he’s most interested in and it shows on the screen. Having seen a few of his films, and read a bit of what he has to say about them, I know that he hangs his hat on his visual inventiveness.
    I appreciate that he was attempting to do something of substance while titillating us with fauns and fairies, but I don’t think it was a particularly well done element of the film.
    I also felt that in a film where characters are so cartoonish and two-dimensional, the Captain especially, that it is going to be difficult to say anything of substance without devolving into preaching, which is the death of my interest in a film.
    That being said, my greatest failure in reviewing Pan’s Labyrinth was failing to mention how well Del Toro creates a mood of unease. Not every filmmaker can do that, especially when whimsical elements are part of the story, but Del Toro does a masterful job here. Many scenes in the film have a palpable air of dread over them and all the characters seem to be threatened. This works to counter balance the fantastical nature of the film.
    Thanks for the comments Mike.

  4. Youre welcome. Its cool reading the site and checking out movies I should be watching.


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