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Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro's critically acclaimed 2006 dark fantasy film.

< read all 21 reviews

A stunning reminder of the harshness of childhood

  • Jun 25, 2007
  • by
Rating:
+3
This movie is not at all for children or those who dislike major violence. Of all the movies that Guillermo del Toro has made I'm guessing this is the personal one for him. I heard him saying on TV that when he was a kid he'd imagine the floor to his bedroom opening up and a creature coming out and having a conversation with him. That's pretty much what Ofelia goes through in this movie as she resorts to a fantasy world where strange creatures send her on a magical journey to regain her royal title. A very simple fairy tale told by one of our greatest filmmakers.

While the movie closely follows Ofelia's tasks, spoken to her by a magic book from Pan, it is mostly about the war, double agents (Maribel Verdú and Álex Angulo), and the Captain's near-obsession with his expected son. The battles are extremely brutal and made me queazy a couple of times. So brutal are these deaths, in fact, that you'll be relieved to see a simple shot to the head or back.

The acting is top-notch, and I like to say that young Ivana Baquero has a huge and brilliant future ahead of her. Plus one of the greatest aspects to this movie is how much scarier the people in the real world are than any strange creature from another fantasy world and none do it better than Sergi Lopez who plays the evil Capitan. He does a great job of playing in a suave sophisticated way that rivals that great job that Ralph Fiennes did with his character in "Schindler's List". He's pure evil packaged in clean cut way and doesn't have the slightest hesitation to killing anyone. It's really interesting that in a movie filled with strange creatures like a giant toad and a pale man with no eyes, the most frightening person would be a regular man with no conscious. The animation is phenomenal, but not nearly as breathtaking as the costumes or scenery. The labyrinth itself just takes all the breath out of you when you see it at night for the first time. The "pale man" (also played by Doug Jones), is by far the most terrifying creature in the movie, most-likely to give even the most mature and grown-up adults shivers. Faun (Doug Jones) who is the creature that gives Ofelia all her assignments is also great with his goat looking self. I really wish there were more scenes with him in the movie but I guess the budget wouldn't allow for that.

Yes, this movie does have sub-titles, but it's hardly noticeable at first, so much so that you forget about them by the end of the movie. "Pan's Labyrinth" is frightening and sad to the extreme, but it also gives you a sense of hope that magic does, in fact, exist. This is one of the most astonishing adult fairy tales I've seen in a long time.

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More Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto ... reviews
review by . November 06, 2009
Alice in Wonderland is one of the most beloved stories of our time, It tells of a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole and get's transported to another world where strange creatures rule and the possibilities of magic and adventure are endless. But it's been nearly 144 years since that story first appeared and ever since then film makers have been trying to tell the story a different way for years, But thanks to Guillermo del Toro we have the greatest spin off of all, El Laberinto del Fauno, …
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Visually stunning; interesting plot
Quick Tip by . June 02, 2010
So, so, so, so CREEPY! I hated the main dude. I was Terrified. *shudders*
review by . December 03, 2009
posted in Reel Overseas
The fantasy genre doesn't lend itself well to movies, for whatever reason. Before this decade, fantasy films were much more likely to end up on MST3K or, at best, in a "Most Nostalgic Kids Films of the 80's" list.       Perhaps it's the Spanish-language tendency towards "magical realism" instead of the English-language trend towards Tolkein and Dungeons & Dragons, but Pan's Labyrinth shatters those expectations almost immediately, by melding a little girl's …
review by . September 24, 2009
   Very compelling tale of a young girl who is forced with her sickly and ready to conceive mother, to live with her cruel father in the 1930’s war torn Spanish countryside.  Her father is El Capitan of a military force seeking out rebels against the government.  He loves to torture and brutally murder anybody he catches, whether they are rebels or not (warning: some of the scenes are so graphic that they are difficult to watch if you have a weak stomach).  The girl’s …
review by . November 21, 2009
     Pan's Labyrinth takes place in Spain in May and June, 1944, after the Spanish civil war, during the Franquist repression. Also present is the main character Ofelia's fantasy world which centers around an overgrown abandoned labyrinth. Ofelia's stepfather, the Falangist Captain Vidal, viciously hunts the Spanish Maquis, guerrillas who fight against the Franco regime in the region, while Ofelia's pregnant mother grows increasingly ill. Ofelia meets several strange and magical …
review by . May 15, 2009
Centering around a lonely 12-year old girl named Ofelia with a sickly preger mother, a sadistically cruel stepfather, and a kindly handmaiden--Ofelia escapes into a fairytale world of her imagination. Guided by a fairy she discovers an ancient, crumbling labyrinth guarded by a faun who discloses her true destiny--she is Princess Moanna--but to prove herself she must complete three increasingly challenging and dangerous tasks; The tasks have to be completed before the full moon.     The …
review by . May 21, 2009
DVD
It is 1944, and 12-year old Ofelia and her mother are going to a military outpost in the Spanish countryside to live with her new stepfather, a sadistic army captain.   There, Ofelia discovers an old stone maze that leads to an underground world of fairies and adventures while above ground, the captain is closing in on a rag-tag band of insurgents.     This remarkable movie is alternately beautiful and grotesque, cruel and fantastic.  Ofelia's …
Quick Tip by . November 06, 2009
Really amazing film. Extremely thought provoking & beautifully shot. Made me feel like a child again even though it's not a childrens film.
review by . March 21, 2009
Very compelling tale of a young girl who is forced with her sickly and ready to conceive mother, to live with her cruel father in the 1930's war torn Spanish countryside. Her father is El Capitan of a military force seeking out rebels against the government. He loves to torture and brutally murder anybody he catches, whether they are rebels or not (warning: some of the scenes are so graphic that they are difficult to watch if you have a weak stomach). The girl's means of blocking out all this cruelty …
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Jen-Jay AKA:JJI ()
Ranked #31
Married into the military for over a decade and it does has itpros andcons. The lifestyle is great and Ido enjoy it. I'm able to do things and see things that I thought I wouldn't dream of. My kids loves … more
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Wiki

Inspired by the Brothers Grimm, Jorge Luis Borges, and Guillermo del Toro's own unlimited imagination,Pan's Labyrinthis a fairytale for adults. Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) may only be 12, but the worlds she inhabits, both above and below ground, are dark as anything del Toro has conjured. Set in rural Spain, circa 1944, Ofelia and her widowed mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil,Belle Epoque), have just moved into an abandoned mill with Carmen's new husband, Captain Vidal (Sergi López,With a Friend like Harry). Carmen is pregnant with his son. Other than her sickly mother and kindly housekeeper Mercedes (Maribel Verdú,Y Tu Mamá También), the dreamy Ofelia is on her own. Vidal, an exceedingly cruel man, couldn't be bothered. He has informers to torture. Ofelia soon finds that an entire universe exists below the mill. Her guide is the persuasive Faun (Doug Jones,Mimic). As her mother grows weaker, Ofelia spends more and more time in the satyr's labyrinth. He offers to help her out of her predicament if she'll complete three treacherous tasks. Ofelia is willing to try, but does this alternate reality really exist or is it all in her head? Del Toro leaves that up to the viewer to decide in a beautiful, yet brutal twin toThe Devil's Backbone, which was also haunted by the ghost of Franco. Though it lacks the humor ofHellboy,Pan's Labyrinthrepresents Guillermo Del Toro at the top of his considerable game.--Kathleen C. Fennessy
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