Movie Review: Pan's Labyrinth
El Laberinto del Fauno, or Pan's Labyrinth is not your typical fantasy movie. In the age of the Harry Potter movies or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it is an altogether different kind of film. At first glance one may think that it harkens back to fantasy classics such as the Dark Crystal or Labyrinth... it doesn't.
First of all, this movie is not for children. Trust me on this one. If you take your children to this movie, you will probably put some therapist's kid through college.
This movie is not going to be for everyone. In fact, many "fantasy" fans probably won't like it. The story is woven into the Spanish Civil War, with the fantasy world offset by the harsh reality of the real one. And not only is the movie set in late 1930's Spain, it's in Spanish with subtitles.
I heard one movie-goer grousing, "It's not Harry Potter, and they made you read."
Because, you know, there's no reading involved in Harry Potter.
Subtitles don't bother me much, and my Spanish is good enough that I could glance at the subtitles (in fact I could spot instances when the subtitles varied from what the actors said) and follow along. Add to that my interest in history and that as a Spanish major in college I studied Spanish history and it may have been more interesting to me than the average movie-goer.
Guillermo del Toro doesn't pull any punches. There are some squirm-worthy moments and we are reminded of the darker side of both fairy tales and human nature. While not gratuitous like horror movies, the film certainly earns its "R" rating.
I can't really get into much more regarding the writing without spoiling. If you like a movie that makes you think and can take some brutal reality alongside your make beleive, I think you'll enjoy this movie a lot. If you are looking for some popcorn entertainment and don't like foriegn language movies, then you will probably feel like you wasted your money. And remember, either way, leave the kids at home.
Oz rates this movie: 5 out of 5 Spanish-speaking make-believe flying monkeys.