“Pan’s Labyrinth” – Chris Luedtke

If you haven’t heard of Pan’s Labyrinth, then you’ve been living in a deep, dark hole. Its reputation for being a dark, violent fairy tale is both under and overstated on many levels. If you haven’t seen it, however, then you should definitely know what you’re in store for. I heavily anticipated this film as I rushed to the Wal-Mart at midnight to ensure my copy — and, as it turns out, my disappointment.

Let me just state that it is not a bad film at all. The fact that it was on over 150 top ten lists proves that it had a major affect on the film industry and was hailed by critics. However, it’s not all its hyped up to be. There is a lot about this film that is really great, but there’s also a lot about it that makes it a big letdown.

The art direction is spectacular. Every waking corner of this film is filled with dreamy, gorgeous imagery. Director Guillermo del Toro really outdid himself here; bravo to that. The enemies, the fairies — just everything I saw in here just blew my mind.

Once you get past the lush surroundings, you’ll find a plot that is…alright. A war is taking place around Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), and her evil, soon-to-be stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) is behind the oppression. As Ofelia and her mother Mercedes (Maribel Verdu) move in, strange things begin to happen. Ofelia is soon confronted by a faun (Doug Jones) who tells her that she is a long-lost princess from a far away land.

Not long after the faun is introduced, he is forgotten in the mix. The film focuses more on the war than it does on the labyrinth. Seeing as how the film is called Pan’s Labyrinth, you’d think there would be a focus around the labyrinth, not the war. The labyrinth is more of a sub plot than anything else, which makes everything about it more frustrating.

The violence in the film is brutal but is seemingly more for shock value than anything else. At one point in the film, a guy’s face is bashed in with a bottle, and at another point, the head of fairies are bitten off by an evil, white creature. There are other more shocking moments, but I won’t ruin the best of them; let’s just say that you’ll probably be smiling after it’s over.

If you haven’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth yet, then do it. But be wary as you put it in your DVD player, for you’re not really getting an “adult fairy tale” but more of an “adult war movie with a fairy tale twist.” The film is sure to satisfy and perhaps even blow you away, but however, it did not do the such to me.

Rating: ★★★☆

-Chris Luedtke

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