I was never a big fan of Guillermo del Torro’s work (ie Blade II or Hellboy I) but when I saw Pan’s Labyrinth, I immediately became enchanted with what he could create. And with the underwhelming taste that Pacific Rim has left me, I feel like it’s a good time to review this movie so we will not lose interest in del Torro’s magic.
Set in Spain after the civil war (or during maybe due to the resistance? Not sure, because this is a Mexican film but being the stupid history person I am, I don’t know what era this is in Spain or what the war was about, I just know that there was a resistance during the setting of the film), a girl finds herself being dragged by her pregnant mother to a military camp to stay with her stepfather; although this is not just about that, this movie has so much more to offer to the viewer that in the end, you will find yourself so connected to them that you feel their journey after this film.
As I said, this movie is not just about Pan’s Labyrinth, it is so much more than that. I guess the title came from where all these events were happening which is Pan’s Labyrinth. (But I do find the title a bit confusing as none of her tasks involved the actual going through the labyrinth itself. I think the title should have been The Faun’s Tasks rather Pan’s Labyrinth but I guess that’s a bit of a knit pick from the awesome drama history fantasy this is.) The central story is about Ofelia trying to go back to the underworld where she used to be a princess. She meets a faun who asks her to do 3 tasks before the full moon so that we could go through the portal and back to her real world. This plot of the movie was incredible and provided a good platform for the other stories to cling on to. I tend to think that this movie is about 3 women trying to find freedom in their own ways, Ofelia (the girl), Mercedes (the housekeeper) and Carmen (Ofelia’s mother). It’s hard to get into the details without spoiling it for you so just think that it’s awesome like that.
The story, the direction, the cinematography, the effects, the pacing; everything was so well done from del Torro that I instantly became a fan despite hating Hellboy I (yes, I didn’t like Hellboy, but I definitely think Hellboy II was a giant leap forward). It was just awesome, the world he created, the people who were in it, the stories they had to tell, it was incredible. He did this film with a love for both storytelling and cinema combined that it just touches your heart. However, on the other side of the drama and wonder were the little violences that could run Tarantino for his money, they were brutal, horrific and bloody. Some of the predicaments and costumes felt a little bit like Alice in Wonderland with a Mexican twist (a really really good meaningful Mexican twist) that at times you compare it to the story.
The cast was amazing. Ivana Baquero who plays Ofelia the main character was awesome, she had the right amount of wonder, smarts and innocence in the film. Despite standing for minutes after something shocking where you scream at the TV for her to run away and she doesn’t, she still pulls of the struggle between growth and innocence in that you really want her to come out of this alive. The girl who plays Mercedes was also great in the movie, you feel her sense of power and purpose throughout the film that you want her to succeed despite not knowing what it really is she is fighting for. Captain Vidal was also so scary in the film which makes him so effective as the antagonist to the film. He had so much menacing moments that you feel that you want him dead, but you also feel the human in him trying to express what he wants so you can redeem him (although just a bit of course). The faun was an odd character in this one because of course, he is not human, and in addition, I never knew until the end which side he was playing. But he provided an interesting point of doubt of what is real and what isn’t in the movie.
Everything about this movie is a magical. I think this is a movie not a lot of people has seen because it is a foreign film and reading subtitles in a movie sucks, but believe me, it’s worth it (that is coming from a person who refuses to watch anime as I hate reading subtitles). So I have to say, Pan’s Labyrinth is a MUST SEE NOW.