Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

DVD Cover (New Line Studios)
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> Best of '06
Overall Rating 82%
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Ranked #157
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In 1944 Falangist Spain, a girl, fascinated with fairy-tales, is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of the labyrinth. He tells her she's a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks. If she fails, she will never prove herself to be the true princess and will never see her real father, the king, again. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: February 15, 2007
When it comes to imagination and creativity, it's just hard to top Guillermo del Toro. Over the course of his career, del Toro has delivered some of the most polished and expertly crafted films in varying genres. "Cronos" in 1993 is a well-loved classic; "Mimic", which came in 1997, is probably one of the greatest science fiction films ever made and was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful; "The Devil's Backbone" was a genius of a horror film that showcased del Toro's ability to blend shocking horror and engaging storylines; "Blade II" was the best of that series, followed by another commercial success, "Hellboy", which has been highly regarded as one of the better comic book adaptations ever. Now comes "Pan's Labyrinth", del Toro's latest motion picture, that bares his trademark visual style and propensity for engaging and complex storylines. In many ways, I compare del Toro to a cross between Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg - that's the feeling I get from his films. In many ways, del Toro also seems to borrow from masters of Italian horror, like Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava. Those influences are especially visible in films like the previously mentioned "The Devil's Backbone" and "Pan's Labyrinth". I guess the best way to sum everything up would be to say that del Toro really has developed his own style.

Easily the most critically acclaimed film of the year and one of the most critically acclaimed fantasy films ever made, "Pan's Labyrinth" tells the story of a princess who escapes from her world but is expected to one day return to her father, the king, and restore the kingdom to glory. This little girl turns out to be Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who has come to live with her mother (Ariadna Gil) and her new stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), who is doing everything he can to fight off a rebel insurgence against the Spanish forces. Accidentally stumbling through a stone labyrinth, Ofelia is met by a fawn (Doug Jones) who tells her that she is the lost princess and must complete three tasks before she can be accepted back into her kingdom. The remainder of the film focuses on Ofelia trying to complete her three tasks, the rebel forces trying to overcome the Spanish forces, and Ofelia's mother's pregnancy, which takes an unexpected turn. There are three storylines running simultaneously here, and each one is as engaging as the other, though Ofelia's is front and center. By the end of the film, we are given a twist that really isn't a twist if you've been paying attention at all and have the slightest skill of deduction. Nevertheless, some will be shocked.

This film is a visual feast for the senses. It is one of the most gorgeously crafted motion pictures I have ever seen, and it has a style all its own. The production design and art direction here are first rate, and the haunting and ethereal score by Javier Navarrete add so much to a film that is already firing on all cylinders. Watching "Pan's Labyrinth", I couldn't help but think as to how an idea like this popped into Guillermo del Toro's head. If these are the kinds of stories he just dreams up on a daily basis, he might be the most creative and imaginative director in the world - period. There's just so much here to admire and so much here to appreciate. I can't help but think that if Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick were still alive, they would be floored by this motion picture. The standout sequence comes when Ofelia is sent through a door and asked to retrieve a dagger from a drawer in a room with a table that is covered with delicious food and guarded by a terrible creature that does unspeakable things to children. That entire sequence is probably my favorite sequence of the year and it's the one that sent children screaming and crying out of the theatre - not that parents should have brought children to see a Rated R motion picture anyways. Have some sense.

In addition to the stunning visuals, the performances here are traditional Guillermo del Toro performances, meaning that they're far above average. Ivana Baquero is an intriguing new talent who seems the perfect fit for the role of Ofelia. She does everything right here. Maribel Verdu is quite engaging as the lady of the house who is secretly aiding the rebel forces. And, Sergi Lopez delivers a truly villainous performance as Captain Vidal, one of the most unlikable and evil characters to come out of any recent film of date. Lopez chews up his scenes with nastiness and with zeal, and it reminded me of Jason Isaacs' performance in "The Patriot" - a true villain who loves nothing except causing as much misery as possible on as many people as possible.

This awards season, let me assure you that "Pan's Labyrinth" is receiving the appropriate amount of hoopla. I am still shocked it was not honored with a Best Picture nomination, but the Academy still showed it an incredible amount of love, and it has no chance of losing the Best Foreign Language Film category, and it also stands a mighty good chance of taking home some of the top technical awards as well. Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" is one of the best motion pictures that 2006 had to offer, as well as one of the best fantasy films ever constructed. Guillermo del Toro is a master storyteller and this film should finally silence any individuals who doubt his talents as a filmmaker. Look back at his track record. He just doesn't make bad films. "Pan's Labyrinth" is highly recommended to anyone and everyone who has the fortune to find it playing near them.

Cryptorchild #1: Cryptorchild - added 05/08/2007, 07:24 PM
I watched this last week. I had the hookup. I thought it was a great movie. I was however going into the movie hoping to see a lot of the kingdom scenes and more strange characters. It had its share but by the way it was promoted you expected more. The creature with the eyes in its hands was fantastic but he's only in one small part, that's it. But the movie and the story, hell everything bluemeanie mentioned is amazing. The above would have to be my only gripe. This film and Toro's previous film, The Devil's Backbone are simuliar in a lof of ways. Toro said he hoped people watched The Devils Backbone and then Pan's Labyrinth back to back so you would get the full effect. But yes, great movie. 9/10.
Chad #2: Chad - added 05/19/2007, 01:22 AM
When I first started hearing all of the buzz about this, I thought that it was one of those movies that simply wasn't for me - sort of like Star Wars or LotR (movies that are hailed as classics, but also films that I can't stand). Then, the trailers started rolling out, proclaiming that this was a "fairy tale for adults" and there were even comparisons to Labyrinth and Neverending Story made. This sounded like something that I'd hate, but nevertheless, I rented it to see what the fuss was about. Now I see why my fellow reviewer rated it like he did: it deserves it.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 05/19/2007, 01:32 AM
You hated Neverending Story and Labyrinth? Odd.
I didn't think I'd like this movie either, based on what it was supposed to be like, but I took a chance and watched it anyway. I was pleasantly surprised and fell in love with it immediately. It really is a fairy tale for adults, perfect description. 10/10
Chad #4: Chad - added 05/19/2007, 01:40 AM
Labyrinth was decent, but nothing special and certainly not worth the praise that it receives (in my humble opinion). Neverending Story, on the other hand, was just awful.
Tristan #5: Tristan - added 05/19/2007, 08:58 AM
The second and third ones, yes. But the first NES was great. A perfect childish fantasy movie, in my book.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #6: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 05/26/2007, 10:36 PM
I was another going into this expecting and wanting a lot of the fantasy aspect, as I was hoping this would be a grand one since I can't name too many fantasy films that I like. Even though this didn't turn out to be a complete fantasia, my expectations were highly surpassed and I was really amazed. And that ending- it pulled some heartstrings.
Nirrad #7: Nirrad - added 01/31/2008, 07:24 AM
We bought this months and months ago, and I have yet to watch it. My girlfriend said it was really good, but depressing, or something like that. I really need to watch it, maybe this Friday.
C L #8: C L - added 04/07/2008, 05:27 AM
I just watched this, and I thought it was wonderful. Cinematography and music were nearly perfect. Great acting throughout. It was a joy to watch.
Nirrad #9: Nirrad - added 06/12/2008, 02:36 AM
Finally watched it. What a fantastic movie. My problem is the same with everyone else's. I thought the movie would take place in a twisted fantasy land, but it doesn't. The labyrinth is barely in it at all. While still a fairy tale, maybe not quite a full fledged one, the main story was still about that was and I was disappointed by that. Probably 15% of this movie is a fantasy. But seriously, even after that it's still a strong 10/10.
Nirrad #10: Nirrad - added 06/12/2008, 02:37 AM
Sorry, I meant still about the war*
Lucid Dreams #11: Lucid Dreams - added 06/13/2010, 02:39 PM
I didn't see any problems with it and the scene with the bottle was nuts. 10/10
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