Monday, July 23, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Starring Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdu, et al
Rated R, 120 minutes

One of our regular activities now when all the friends gather together is to peruse our DVD racks and/or the OnDemand Movies section for something to watch. I famously talk down watching movies. My attention span is just too short, and I haven’t seen a TON of movies they, and lot of America, consider necessary watching. This movie, despite being in the pay-per-view section, won out last Sunday (sans my vote), so here we are. It comes to us from Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, so it’s all subtitled.

We’re set in Spain, around WWII, and there’s still civil war in the country. As the movie begins, young Ofelia (Bauqero) and her pregnant mother are going to live with Ofelia’s stepfather, Captain Vidal (Lopez). While he takes care of the troops in the surrounding forest, Ofelia’s love of fairy tales takes over. She goes on a quest to complete three tasks, so she can prove herself as princess of the underworld. Meanwhile, home servant Mercedes (Verdu) and the in-base doctor conspire against their leader. Between this, the rebels and his increasingly pervasive stepdaughter, things aren’t good for the cap’n.

The visuals are great. There are neat looking effects in the fantasy sequences and some realistic ones in the war scenes. It’s gruesome as all get out, but a welcome contrast. It’s not just a fairy tale, or a grim tale of war. “Pan’s Labyrinth” is dark all around. Reading up on it, I see it won some Oscars for these visuals. Also, a lot of the effects weren’t done by a computer. That too is a welcome change.

Unfortunately, I found it to be really simple. The plot didn’t exactly give me a brain workout. Considering the amounts of praise it got here, and from my friend who ultimately chose it, I expected it to be deep, winding around, and full of mixed emotions. Not so. Especially being one of them there “foreign films” that are supposedly better because they…come from somewhere else? Are we just that elitist that everything that’s different is necessarily better?


And that’s a pretty harsh statement, because it was okay. Nothing spectacular, but not totally insulting. I just thought it needed more depth.

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