Pan’s Labyrinth REVIEW

Featured Critic; St. Louis, MO
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With so much having already been said about this film, on this site in particular, it’s easy to feel very redundant offering up yet another critical take on “Pan’s Labyrinth.” However, with the film only now going into wider release here in the United States, perhaps there is an element of proper timing with this. Whatever the case, I’ll try not to keep you. I’ll stand by the oft-stated point that Guillermo del Toro has not only proven himself as a viable and important cinematic voice, but has created the most resonant film of his vibrant career thus far. This is an undeniable work of real power and soul, dealing with issues of harsh reality, the purpose of fantasy, and how the two can intermingle and co-exist. Del Toro portrays each aspect of the story with equal weight, allowing the Franco-era civil war-torn Spain to exist as the backdrop for his monsters, both fantastic and all too real.

And yet, there is something here that keeps me from flat-out embracing this film. Something I’ve yet to identify (having just seen it prior to this writing). Perhaps it is the vague aloofness that seemed to permeate the ever-blue atmosphere. Maybe it’s the fact that del Toro has created a film that is every bit as frighteningly lucid to the grown-up in me as his “Hellboy” was rip-roaring stimulating to the kid in me. Whatever it is, it is no doubt this very element that will increasingly haunt me and cause me to ponder the various debatable interpretations of the movie. And that is precisely what will garner this film a respectable, and well-earned following for years to come. No, I can’t quite embrace “Pan’s Labyrinth” just yet – but I most certainly do admire it.

- Jim Tudor

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More about Pan's Labyrinth

rekJanuary 20, 2007 2:58 AM

I finally saw it last week, and I was disappointed by Pan's Labyrinth.

It didn't feel like the civil war was the backdrop for fantasy so much as the fantasy was a tangent from the civil war plot. Some of the blame rests on my own expectations, but most I think is the fault of the trailer and media coverage. I was aware going in that the context was the Spanish civil war -- much as it was in The Devil's Backbone, which I think is a superior film and a superior blend of disparate elements -- but everything made this film out to be a fantasy tale first and foremost. For a movie over two hours long, the fantasy subplot took less than a quarter of the time, and there was almost no blending between the plots outside of the shared character of Ofelia.

ChristJanuary 21, 2007 4:39 AM

I do agree with the previous posters.

All that lure without ever having the intention of reeling it in?!

Incapable of doing or just not there yet?

Big JimJanuary 29, 2007 12:26 PM

I thought this was a well-made, well-acted, interesting, and distasteful movie. There is certainly much to praise about it. The only problem is that it is not enjoyable, except inasmuch as violence, torture, and blood are enjoyable.

This movie reminded me in a way of some of the modern symphonic compositions. They are interesting in a sense, but not enjoyable to listen to. They are basically written by composers for other composers, not for the general public.

I felt the same say about this movie. I think this is a movie made for movie critics, not for the average moviegoer. While I don't expect every movie to have a happy ending, I do hope for some sense of redemption or some feeling of being uplifted, even in the darker movies. I didn't find that in this movie, not even with the fantasy sub-plot. I went to the movie in a good mood, and left depressed. There's enough in the world to be depressed about without paying for it in a movie theater.

RonaldJanuary 31, 2007 9:46 AM


Unfortunately, I loved this movie and disagree with most of the other people here. It was beautifully made, the script was wonderful and it made me feel lucky top live in a stable and almost "free" society.

It highlighted the evil which lurks in the heart of men and reminds us that totalitarian regimes must be opposed. Sure Democracy is flawed and there are many arguments about what constitutes a true democracy but faced with the extremes depicted in this movie, our society with all its flaws is a better alternative.

It is not designed to be a feelgood movie but one which highlights the contrast between a childs view and an adults view and the similarities and parralells which exist despite the differences in age.

The movie was ambiguous about the existance of magic and at the end we are not sure whether or not Pan really exists. If he did not exist, how do u explain the door in the labarinth which opens for the girl, the chalk, escaping from a locked room with chalk etc.

Anyway, a very worthwhile and thought provoking movie.

JrnFebruary 4, 2007 11:39 AM

Artifice reigned in this movie!