Pan's Labyrinth Review
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Plot:"Pan's Labyrinth" is the story of a young girl who travels with her pregnant mother to live with her mother's new husband in a rural area up North in Spain, 1944, after Franco's victory. The girl lives in an imaginary world of her own creation and faces the real world with much chagrin. Post-war Fascist repression is at its height in rural Spain and the girl must come to terms with that through a fable of her own.
Review:I've got to admit, movies like "Pan's Labyrinth" don't come along too often, which is a shame really. It would really add some much needed diversity to the horror genre which seems to get bogged down very often by the same stuff being repackaged and released over and over again. Written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, "Pan's Labyrinth" tells the story of a young girl named Ofelia, who believes strongly in fairytales and is quite taken with themm, despite her mothers protests. She treks with her mom to rural Spain to live with her new husband, a blackhearted man named "The Captain". During her stay at his camp in rural Spain, she comes across a labyrinth deep in the woods, where she meets a faun and other magical creatures who believe her to be the reincarnated spirit of the Princess of the Underworld. She is told that in order to reclaim her immortality and her rightful place as Princess, she must complete three tasks. Which is where the adventure/horror part of the film comes in, as the tasks pit her against some really nasty foes. Del Toro tells three stories in this film and does a fantastic job of keeping all three separate, interesting, and entertaining. Keeping them separate was the most important thing seeing as how all three intertwine at the end to give the film a great climax, but more on that later. The journey of Ofelia to reclaim her supposed throne, the always rocky relationship between her, her mom, and the Captain, and the fascist Captains fierce battles with mountain rebels in 1944 Spain where fascism is on the rise but hasn't yet taken over completely because of those who oppose it. What really worked in this films favor was the fact that it was shot in Spain, instead of using a U.S., European, or Canadian location to stand in for Spain. Shooting the film mostly in Spain really captured the essence of the movie and worked to give the characters a certain depth which makes their situations all the more interesting to the viewer. The performances in the film are also top notch, particularly Invana Baquero as Ofelia, and Sergi Lopez as "El Capitan". Baqureo's character seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders, considering her mom is pregnant with her brother, trying to adjust to her new surroundings which isn't exactly where she wants to be, and completing the three tasks charged to her by the faun. The tasks themselves add the horror element to the picture, and the visual FX are also displayed vividly during these scenes. Among Ofelia's charges are to stop a giant toad from destroying a tree, and retrieving an item from the frog to use later on in her next task. The other two tasks I won't give away here but the third in particular is vital to the films overall ending. In these quests she's aided by fairies who work to warn her of danger, and keep her from going against what the faun asks her not to do, which his dire consequences in one particular scene. Thanks to Del Toro's brilliant writing and directing, not only is "Pan's Labyrinth" shot well, but it doesn't lag when the action switches to the second or third of the films stories. A combination of Del Toro's writing, and the great performances by most of the actors in the film help to keep the battles and strategic game of chess between The Captain and spanish rebels just as exciting a part of the film to watch as Ofelia's journey's. The war part of the story is even further strengthened by some intriguing subplots involving treachery, deceit, and family ties, and also because every singular character has a certain depth to them and is intriguing in their own way. The character's are interesting enough to make the viewer begin to ask alot of questions in their head about them that may or may not be answered during the course of the film. I must say, "Pan's Labyrinth" is certainly one of the better dark fairytale films I've seen in quite some time, especially considering that I'm not exactly a huge fan of this particular genre. Yet this film managed to impress the hell out of me. The climax of the film doesn't disappoint and while there are some very tragic and sad moments within the films final act, it does manage to finalize things in a way that makes sense within the story. Del Toro knew what he had and knew how to end it where it not only ends happily, but ties into the overall plot and even manages to send a very uplifting message to the viewer. "Pan's Labyrinth" is a film I would recommend to anyone looking for something more than just the average horror/fantasy film where visual FX are overused to cover for a sorely lacking story.
Positives:Great sceneries, brilliant performances, awesome visual FX, interesting characters, and a perfect ending.
Overall:Whether it be in cinemas, or on dvd you should definitely see this movie.
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