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Review: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Premise: At the end of World War II, Ofeila (Ivana Baquero) and her mother (Ariadna Gil) move to a camp to be with her new step-father (Sergi López), a fascist army captain. While in the camp, Ofelia enters a fantasy world of a faun (Doug Jones) who may or may not be real.

What Works: The film merges fantasy and reality in very successful ways, muddling the two and keeping the audience engaged. Whether the fantasy is real or not is itself interesting and the implications of the fantasy and Ofelia’s use of it to escape from her vicious step-father, are very remarkable and give the viewer more substance to work with than the average fantasy film. The fantasy visions of the piece are quite well done and have a more mature look to them than some other pictures; the scenes are not overdone and have an old school Brothers Grimm quality that makes them more palatable.

What Doesn’t: The characters of the film do not have much flair to them. Unlike the children of films like Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Ofelia does not have the kind of character dynamic that would make her interesting to watch.

Bottom Line: Guillermo del Toro is quickly emerging as one of the great directors of his generation and a great asset to the fantasy genre at a time when it is being diluted by films like Eragon that have only a superficial understanding of the implications and possibilities of the genre. Despite some of the flaws in characterization, the film is still very impressive and ranks as one of the better fantasy films in recent years.

Episode: #132 (March 11, 2007)