Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Some words on Pan's Labyrinth

So I just finished watching Pan's Labyrinth (rated R). I would loosely classify it as a fantasy/horror movie. The real world and a fantasy world collide in an obscure, rural military camp in 1940's Spain. Our young heroine and her very pregnant mother are going to live in the military camp deep in the woods. The troops at the camp are dealing with guerrilas. That's about all the background we get, so crack open a history book if you want more information. She begins exploring the grounds and finds an entrance to an underground passage after being led through a stone maze by a curious flying insect. There she meets a faun (sort of like a satyr) who gives her some tasks to do so she can return to the kingdom she forgot she was from. The movie goes on with her dealing with the harshness of real life (the capitain of the camp is akin to Ralph Fiennes' character in Schindler's List) and the equal terror of the tasks she must perform (remember, I said fantasy/horror). The fantasy sections are quite elaborate visually, and the creature effects/costumes/CGI are well done.

Quickly into the movie, I found myself thinking of The Cell, another movie that alternates between harsh reality and equally harsh fantasy. I quickly decided that The Cell gave us a much bigger dose of the fantasy scenes than Pan's Labyrinth did. Granted, the faun and his "pets" get a lot of screen time, but its the alternate world as a whole that really makes this movie different from just another movie about dictatorial cruelty and the horrors of war.

Pan's Labyrinth was filmed in Spanish with actors that most of us would not recognize. The acting and voices were fine. The fantasy scenes were unique...just too short and insufficient in quantity.

Overall, I thought our heroine was good, but I could not care enough about the other human characters or the plot...they were all "cookie cutter" to me...which can be ok at times, but I expect extraordinary characters in a fantasy movie. The fantasy scenes (and a couple of the reality scenes) were somewhat shocking and certainly creative, so it gets points there. I just wanted a scene or two more of the fantasy stuff, even if it would mess with my head.

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