Pan’s Labyrinth has been on my watch list when I decided to challenge myself to watch all the movies from the IMDb Top 250 list. This drama/fantasy movie is on the list, and as of this, writing currently sits at #142. At first glance, there was probably no way I would have been interested in watching this Spanish movie because I don’t like foreign films. I don’t mean any offence to anyone, but if it’s not in English, it can be challenging to figure out. When Pan’s Labyrinth started, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle it. The characters ended up growing on me, and this movie wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
The best part of this film was the special effects. Everything felt like it was out of a dream even though it was played out in real life. If you don’t have a great imagination, then this may not work for you, but anyone who has dreamt of living in a different world then this would be right up your alley. Some people may find the faun to be an ugly creature that you couldn’t trust, and that’s understandable considering how he acts with our young hero Ofelia (Ivana Baquero). He’s a messenger from the king of the underworld, who thinks Ofelia is a reincarnation of his daughter, the princess. As her world crumbles around her, Ofelia is brave enough to embark on his challenges to have the opportunity to find peace and happiness. This was an exciting and enjoyable part of the film, which could quickly be overshadowed by one other main character and his thirst for absolute power.
Ofelia’s new stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), is a military leader who is tasked with killing rebels in the Spanish backcountry. I’m sure Lopez is a nice guy in real life, but in Pan’s Labyrinth, he is one of the biggest pricks I’ve ever seen in a movie. I hated his character from the beginning all the way until the end, where sadly, I got even more pissed because he deserved a much more violent death then he got. Despite his major ego issues, this guy had no soul and deserved to die a slow, painful death. If I could have changed anything, he would not have died so quickly and easily. The only redeeming aspect of the ending was how his maid Mercedes (Maribel Verdu), was able to get the best of him for all the wrong things he’s done to her.
There are really two parallel stories going on here at the same time that come together very nicely at the end. There are a few heartbreaking moments that add to the drama between the characters and help push the story to it’s ending. One would think a movie about a little girl who is a long loss princess wouldn’t be so gruesome, but Pan’s Labyrinth is a very violent movie that really digs deep into the turmoil of war.
I don’t quite agree with the 8.3 ratings on IMDb or the 95% rating on RottenTomatoes.com, but did enjoy the movie for it was – a one time watch. 6/10