MOVIE REVIEW: Pan’s Labrynth

Pan's Labyrinth

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Ofelia and her mother move into an old mill in rural Spain to start a new life with her new father, fascist Captain Vidal. Ofelia soon finds that the woods around the mill contain fairies, and a faun that sends Ofelia on a series of quests to prove that she’ the long-lost princess of the Underworld.

PROS: Amazingly captivating story; horribly evil villain

CONS: None

BOTTOM LINE: The best film I’ve seen in a very long while, a worthy Oscar nomination for best foreign film.


I was VERY nervous about taking my wife to this movie. She dislikes having to ‘read’ films (the movie is in Spanish with English subtitles), she’s not fond of fantasy and she really, really hates war movies. Pan’s Labrynth is all those things, and to make matters worse – it’s written and directed by Guillermo del Toro – the guy that did Hellboy and Blade II. Fortunately she knew none of this before we went, and the first thing she said when we left the movie was that we need to get the DVD when it comes out!

Pan’s Labrynth is set during the end days of the Spanish Civil War. Ofelia and her pregnant mother move to a mill in the country so that the baby can be born with her new father, the fascist Captain Vidal.

She soon discovers that the Captain is a horrible, sadistic captain, feared by his men as well as his family. Ofelia frequently escapes to the woods surrounding the mill and soon finds an ancient stone labrynth in which she discovers a woodland faun that thinks Ofelia is the long-lost princess. To test this, the faun gives Ofelia a series of test, or quests.

Half of Pan’s Labrynth is set in the real world, under they tyranny of her horrible stepfather who will stop at no lengths to root out the guerrillas in the surrounding hills, and her mother, who’s difficult pregnancy threatens to kill her. The other half is in a fantasy world where Ofelia quests to prove that she is indeed the long lost princess.

The writing in Pan’s Labrynth is as strong as another fantasy film classic, The Princess Bride, but as light and fun as Princess Bride was, Pan’s Labrynth is as dark and horrific. This is not a Disney film – it earns it’s R rating. Still, the violence and language are not gratuitous.

If you do not see this movie in the theatres (and you should – it’s beautiful!), then you must definitely rent it on DVD.

6 thoughts on “MOVIE REVIEW: Pan’s Labrynth”

  1. Sounds like you didn’t enjoy Hellboy (which makes me sad, in my heart of hearts). Still, Pan’s Labyrinth was brilliant, and reminded me of Gaiman and McKean’s “MirrorMask” more than anything else.

    And…er….it’s “Labyrinth” I’m afraid, you forgot your “i” :)

    (but I’ll keep reading anyway)

  2. I went on and on and on about this film in my own recent review, so I’ll try to be brief.

    This is indeed an incredible, amazing, fantastical film that really should be seen in the theatre. Easily one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. I had the same thoughts about my wife seeing this film and so saw it with a friend the first time. One week later I just had to see it again so I decided to be bold and take her and she loved it as much as I did. Guilermo del Toro is an undeniable genius.

    And Hellboy was a ripping good time, Pete!

  3. All truth except that I think that less than half the movie is set in the fatasy world. I saw it over a month ago so I may be a bit fuzzy, but I thought is was more like a quarter or less. Awesome, awesome movie. I am a sci fi fan and do not care for fantasy, but that’s not what the movie was about. The ads seem very misleading much like the ads for The Bridge to Terabethia.

    This movie is violent and bloody, but never gratiously. In fact in several place, my friend covered her eyes at the start of a gorey scene that immediately cut away, and I had to nudge her to tell her she could look. The evil villian is also a total bad-ass. There is one scene that just blew my mind with it’s bad-assnes.

  4. Divine.

    Dark.

    Brutal.

    Haunting.

    The music and effects completely complement the storyline. You are submerged in Pan’s Labyrinth. The characters are riveting… and Pan is deliciously unsettling. This is quality fantasy mixed with glaring realism set in a very dark time.

    It’s well worth seeing. This is not just eye candy… this is an exotic five course meal made by a world class chef.

    So sit down and enjoy it.

  5. Congrats to Pan’s Labyrinth for 3 Oscar wins! It should have won in all 6 categories, in my opinion, but 3 is very respectable. I’m very happy for Guilermo del Toro and all involved with the films.

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