Friday 6 March 2015

Review: Pan's Labyrinth

I can't believe I haven't seen…

Pan's Labyrinth Poster

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Cert: 15 / 119 mins / Dir. Guillermo Del Toro / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

Guillermo Del Toro's 2006 fable is part Alice in Wonderland, part Wizard of Oz, with maybe just a soupçon of Wolfenstein sprinkled over the top. It's essentially Nightbreed without the cheese…

Set in rural Falganist Spain in 1944, the film follows a young girl, Ofelia, trying to protect her pregnant mother from her stepfather, a fascistic army captain who is only interested in the heir his wife is carrying. Visited one night by a 'fairy', Ofelia is led to an underground labyrinth and meets the horned, goat-legged Fauno, who tells her she can be freed if she fulfills three tasks to prove herself...

That the story borrows so heavily from established mythology yet still manages to be its own film is a credit to Del Toro, and Pan's Labyrinth is charming and creepy in equal measure. The two halves of the narrative, the events in the real world and Ofelia's trials in the Underworld, are balanced perfectly and never fight for screen-time, intertwining and cyclically feeding off each other.

If I have any real criticism at all, it's that the gunshots fired in the film seem to have no impact whatsoever (literally; no recoil from the shooters/weapons, and no signs of force or movement upon the people being shot, other than the VFX/CGI department inking in some blood). I know it seems like a flippant point to make, but many of these points are meant to anchor the audience back to reality, when in fact they're less believable than the fairies that follow Ofelia around. It seems odd that a director who can show us vengeful stabbings and a man stitching his slashed-open cheek back together, can't master something as impersonal as a gunshot.

All in all, though, Pan's Labyrinth is a truly exquisite film. Not really made with me in mind admittedly, but I can see why so many people love it…

Have you really never seen this before?
I really haven't, no.

So are you glad you've finally have?
I am. This will be the first of a few viewings, but I'm not sure if it'll become an all-time favourite.

And would you recommend it, now?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There bloody isn't. AND the film features people getting shot and falling off horses. Sort that out, eh?

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Fauno actor Doug Jones starred in 2012's John Dies At The End alongside Clancy Brown, the voice of Savage Opress in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

On a less-connected note, The Faun also reminded me constantly of Jabba's majordomo, Bib Fortuna. Although there's more than a hint of Jabba about the toad, too. But maybe that's just me?

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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