Pans Labyrinth Movie Review

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</script></div>{/googleAds}Having cut his teeth on oral folk stories passed down through the ages, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro turns his childhood fascination with Grimm's Fairy Tales into Pan's Labyrinth, a darkly disturbing yet mesmerizing R-rated, Spanish language fairly-tale set in the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. The film carries on del Toro's legacy of mixing horror and fantasy into a huge pot of Gothic sensibility while stirring with a long spoon of insight into the human condition.

Starting with the much-heralded Cronos and continuing though The Devil's Backbone, Blade II, Hellboy and now Pan's Labyrinth, del Toro has honed his skills of using man-made evil and wrong-doing as a symbol of horror. In Pan's Labyrinth, man's evil is represented by the violence of the Spanish Civil War. As the movie opens, adolescent Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her very pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil), are driving to be with Carmen's new husband, fascist Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), who heads-up a remote military outpost and is charged with dispatching the remaining bands of rebels who are continuing to wage war against the brutal government of Generalissimo Francisco Franco in 1944 Spain. Carmen is anxious for her daughter to meet the man to whom she has entrusted their future. But Ofelia is more interested in her books and the fairy-like dragonfly that captures her eye during a roadside stop.

Upon arrival, led by the same dragonfly, Ofelia immediately begins to explore an aged, moss-covered stone labyrinth with intricately carved details and confusing pathways. Through her exploration of the labyrinth, Ofelia is introduced to a realm of lore whose ambassador, a satyr named Pan (a latex-laden Doug Jones who was also Hellboy's Abe Sapiens), tells her of her secret destiny and of the tasks she must complete to fulfill this pre-ordained fate.

Ofelia's adventures in the dark and earthy netherworld, complete with giant scaly toads and a baby-eating ogre with eyes in its palms, are brilliantly paralleled in her world of reality. As in most of his films, del Toro uses tales of fantasy and the supernatural to confront the violence of the real world. In this case, Ofelia's fairy-tale adventures help her understand and cope with the war raging around her.

Pan's Labyrinth is a beautifully ugly film that emits an odor of pungent earthiness, kind of like clay and rotting leaves. It's a dark film, not only in its messages, but in the way the film is photographed as well. In fact, a bit too dark in some segments. But credit del Toro's sense of visual panache and his ability to create rich environments with bringing the tale to life with such resplendent vividness. More often than not, these types of films falter due to either a lack of grand vision by the director or because the necessary technical wizardry gets in the way. Here del Toro has created a cinematic marvel with flawless special effects both cgi and conventional that prove great filmmaking will beat a big budget every time. Go see Pan's Labyrinth. In doing so, you'll see one of the best films of the year.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Language and Sound: Closed Captioned; Spanish: DTS 6.1 Surround Sound; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary.

* Commentaries - feature-length Audio Commentary with director Guillermo Del Toro
* Featurettes -
o Director's Prologue (0:26)
o Marketing Campaign
+ Theatrical teaser
+ Trailer
+ TV spots
+ Poster designs
o The Power of Myth (14:26)
o Pan and the Fairies (30:29)
o The Color and the Shape (04:04)
o The Lullaby ( 2 parts 05:22)
o Director's Notebook
+ Del Toro's Notes and Sketches
+ Del Toro and the Fairies
+ Photo Galleries
o The Charlie Rose Show (49:26)
o DVD Comics

Number of discs: - 2- Keepcase Packaging