Pan's Labyrinth - Review

February 24, 2007

[Faun from the movie] Pan's Labyrinth is a rich feast for the senses that should not be approached lightly. Be warned — this film is not for the weak of stomach. But unlike the Prestige, the last film I saw in the theater, this one left me melancholy and in awe rather than wanting to scrape out my stomach lining.

I hear that some geeks are upset because the movie is generally considered a fantasy but doesn't really fit that genre neatly. What of it? Director Guillermo del Toro has so seemlessly interwoven the brutal reality of the Spanish civil war with magical escapism that it is impossible to say whether the audience is supposed to take the magic as real or imagination.

It is a dark parallel universe in more ways than one — the young heroine's encounters with fairies, fauns, and nasty creatures evoke deep mythological metaphors in relation to the "normal" world around her. Which is more monstrous: the callous yes-man el capitan murderer or the eyes-in-hand eater of babies? If you ignore the rules around either one you are bound for pain and death. And just why is it that it should be so "curious" that el capitan should "run into" his future wife shortly after her husband's death?

I cannot think of a single flaw in this work. No, it is not a movie I want to see more than a few times in my life. But yes, it is truly that superlative. Writing, directing, acting... sound, color, effects are all perfect. Spoken entirely in Spanish, the Castilian accent is relatively easy to follow for those with some skill in the language, though my skill is such that I primarily had to rely on the subtitles.

Minor rant: $9! For a pre-5:00 showing, $9! That was the most expensive "normal" movie ticket I've ever purchased. Why is it that movie ticket prices seem to be going up faster than inflation? And why is that this assumption is wrong??? Combining data from the National Assoc. of Theatre Owners and the federal Consumer Price Index, it turns out that average ticket price increases from 2003 to 2004 and 2004 to 2005 were actually right in line with inflation. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of matinée, special-pricing, and evening shows. Did more expensive tickets overall lead to more purchases at the less expensive times — thereby masking the greater inflation I perceive — or does this average ticket price reflect accurately on each distinct category of ticket purchase? I guess I'll never know…

1 Comment

Yeah, it was a fantastic movie (in more than one sense of that word.) I wasn't disappointed by the mixture of realism and the fantastical, but was a little surprised, because all I'd seen were images of Mr. Palm-Eyes.

I think when Megan and I went to see a movie last year, it hit me that the cost of two tickets was a couple of dollars more than buying the DVD on sale.