Thursday, February 1, 2007

Movie Review; Pan's Labyrinth, the Brother's Grimm revisited

Set during the time of the Spanish Civil War in the 1940's, Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is a fairytale in the truest sense. Filled with bloody violence, like an unabridged tome of the Brothers Grimm, del Toro's morality tale follows the story of Ofelia, a girl of about ten, in the wilds of 1944 Spain.

American film goers, most familiar with del Toro's American films - Mimic, Blade II, and Hellboy - should not expect the often mediocre horror/action ride of his English language films. Rather, they should expect films more along the lines of the complex horror/drama of 2001's Devil's Backbone, or 1993's Cronos.

Like del Toro's fantasy/horror, The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth tells the story of a child eventually orphaned by war, and of innocence in the face of horror. The characters, written in broad brush strokes, gain subtlety from the performances of the actors, particularly apparent in Sergi Lopez's portrayal of Capitan Vidal, the villain of the story.

Lopez's Vidal makes the viewer watch as though a horrible car accident has occurred, and while the onlooker does not wish to continue watching, he or she cannot look away. Sans the performance of Lopez the character would have necessitated a cape, top hat, and mustache to twirl. Lopez, however, brought complication to the portrayal that spoke of a military tyrant that was equal parts petulant child trying to live up to his father military legacy while at the same time resenting him for it.

Ofelia, played by Ivana Baquero, portrayed her character without falling into the too cute, or too precocious so often found in film children.

del Toro borrows from a variety of places as he tells this story of the proverbial "Alice" falling down the rabbit hole, with visual nods to Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and even Clive Barker.

While an excellent movie, often tense and occasionally disturbing, this is not going to be a film that will appeal to all tastes. For my money, with the attention paid to the cinematography, the performances and the complexity of story line, it was definitely worth the price of admission to see on a large screen.

Academy Award Nominations:
Original Screenplay, Art Direction, Foreign Language Film, Cinematography, Original Score, Make Up

Spanish language with English sub-titles

Now playing at;
Kentlands Stadium 10

Regal Valley Mall

Regal Westview

For times, contact your local theater.

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