Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)

One of my most anticipated films of the past few months, Pan's Labyrinth finally opened here this weekend, so my brother and I caught a Friday night showing. I haven't been in a theater so busy in quite a while (since Borat, I think), and that's always an experience that I really like. Jenna (whose opinion I always trust) called this movie her third favorite of 2006, so I had high hopes, plus the trailers and leaked stills online were absolutely gorgeous and terrifying at the same time. Unfortunately, the same trailers and stills made me believe that the film was set more in this fantastical world, rather than what it actually was, mostly in the dark time of Franco's Spain. The quasi-false advertising may have dashed some of my hopes, but I still felt the movie was a pretty good one.

Ofelia (a not spectacular - I am terrible for saying that about a child, I know - performance from Ivana Baquero) travels with her mother (Ariadna Gil, who is radiant and tragic) to the country home of her new father, Franco's Captain Vidal, a sadistic man with a strong cruel streak. To escape the tragedy of her life, Ofelia invents (or really discovers, up to the viewer entirely) a fantasy world through a labyrinth where she is the reincarnated Princess Moanna, and where Pan gives her dangerous and scary tasks to complete in order to take her rightful place back in the immortal world. The special effects in Ofelia's world are truly spectacular, although lacking in the film; the best part of the movie, the Pale Man, is only onscreen for less than five minutes, and I really think he was underused by del Toro.

del Toro decides to put most of his focus on the reality of the civil war still brewing around them, and the double layers of betrayal between the Captain and some people close to him. The personal story of the rebels and their accomplices is a good, inspiring one, and it undercuts Vidal's extreme cruelty very well, but is lacking when compared to Ofelia's magical one. That is probably del Toro's point exactly, but it lead to a bit of disappointment on both me and my brother's parts. A great movie to be sure, but not quite the amazing one it could have been. Still, I recommend this to almost anyone.


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