Monday, January 29, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

I'll begin this blog with a review of the movie, "Pan's Labyrinth." Here are some blurbs from the official website.

"Beautiful and exhilarating, a fairy tale for grown-ups." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"An adult fairy tale and an outstanding work of art... On the same altar of high fantasy as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy~It's that worthy." Lisa Scwharzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

They forgot to mention terribly depressing, and overtly violent. After the movie my only thought was that I would never get those two hours back. This was a very bleak movie with a little fantasy tossed in to try to make it seem less fatalistic.

The story revolves around the little girl, Ofelia, and her mother. The mother has married a sadistic Captain in Franco's late World War II Spain. She is pregnant with his son, and is brought to a lodge in the mountains where the Captain is in the process of killing a small group of rebels. Meanwhile, Ofelia learns that she is really a princess from an underground fantasy land, and to claim her birthright she must complete three tasks given to her by a faun. Ofelia's story, while portrayed as the main story, is actually a side story to the violence of the Captain and those he subjects to his outbursts.

The characters were all flat and unbelievable. A problem I have with these characters is they do not act in their own best interests, or with any intelligence. This brings the bile of unbelievability into my throat more than fairies and fauns. This movie strikes me as stereotypical of the loss of subtlety and skill in modern movie making. Shocking images can be useful, but only when used properly, something the director did not do, in my opinion. I did not even find the fantasy elements to be that well done, and this was the calling card for the film. I'm sure many people, as evinced by the blurbs, will consider this a wonderful piece of film making. Me? I went to the bathroom twice, went to the lobby to check the price of a bottle of water, and exited once to play with my phone, any excuse to escape this movie.

The last five minutes of the movie are by far the best, but this doesn't redeem the movie. Where a bad ending can ruin an otherwise good movie, a good ending cannot resurrect two hours of dreariness.

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