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Review

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ a hit with reviewing duo

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February 8, 2007

Guillermo del Toro brings fantasy in the form of film once again with an imaginative, yet historical, “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

With fairies, fauns, and a Franco-era darkness, young Ivana Baquero, who plays center-stage Ofelia, brings the adult viewers back to a world of fairy tales. When Ofelia and her mother go to live with her new stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), she is visited by a fairy that guides her to the world in which her soul had previously belonged.

By completing the necessary tasks to prove her worthiness of the immortal world, the audience is wowed with the creatures of the dark tales. The memorable Faun, the ghastly Pale Man (both played by actor Doug Jones) and the disgusting Giant Toad were a step up from a Lord of the Rings creature.

Though the evilness stemmed from the Captain’s Spanish Civil War was necessary for the portrayal of the “good versus evil” theme (among many themes) I hoped for more fantasy and more dreamy creatures to flood the big screen. Maybe that was just my inner-innocent child seeking more fairy tales.

On the other hand, I enjoyed picking at the film’s parallels between the fantasy world and Ofelia’s reality. The audience is presented with a child-killing creature with a feast of treats he bears for no one but himself in the fantasy world; in the real world, a military leader who will kill anyone who dares to dip into his supply of rationed goods.

Another theme, bravery versus sacrifice: Ofelia gathers up courage at her most crucial times to fight against evil, as also shown in the characters of the soldiers of the war in the other world Ofelia’s peers might call “reality.”

It seems as though Ofelia seeks a certain type of grim refuge in her fairy tales from her real, cruel and evil world.

To incorporate these themes into the film, the performers did an exceptional job to provide a dark mood. If not for the cinematography work,  the movie would be nothing more than a simple fantasy flick.

The swift, gothic-like movements of the adorn creatures added to the dreamy-ness of the visuals. Even the geography of the film made a viewer, such as me, a bit more interested in the Spanish culture. Or maybe that was just the spoken language that provided an exotic feel.

With a tagline like “Innocence has a power evil cannot imagine,” it is hard not to be intrigued by “the fairy tale for grown-ups.” This movie made me hate particular characters. It made me creep to the edge of my seat in anticipation and excitement and it made me cringe while covering my eyes with my hands…then sneaking peeks through my fingers.

Trust the winnings and nominations for Best Screenplay, Best Actress, etc. because they are all true. No matter your preference in movies, “Pan’s Labyrinth” has it all: romance, history, fantasy, and horror, it’s all there.

Girls, skip the Jennifer Garner and Mandy Moore junk, see a movie worth your money. One tip of advice: subtitles are hard to read when there is a tall guy sitting in the seat in front of you.

Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.