Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth is a wonderful spectacle of a film. The film is creative, original, beautiful and engaging. The dual story arc is smart with the fantasy land intertwining with the true Spanish world. The fantasy land is not shown in much detail as the faun just chats with the heroine. There are fantastical rooms or one shot sets. It is a solid story of one girl's drop into a fantasy world because she has a shitty life.

It is creative in the monster design and set structure. The best scene to showcase this is the chalk drawn doorway scene. The odd colors and columns in the room are a distinct split from the drab, dark room the lead, Ofelia, sleeps in. She steps into this bright fantasy world, but it is far scarier after the first look than her dark room. The forbidden feast, like the forbidden fruit, is full of oversized foods. At the head of the table, an eyeless mummy looking freak is sitting with his hands on the table palms down. Ofelia even sees the eyes on a plate sitting there. You know what is coming. It is the calm, motionless posture of that spooky looking guy that gets me. You wait for that spring to action demon movement to match his creepy look. Quick shots with quick cuts portray Ofelia's view of the ceiling panels. These ceiling panels show the monster devouring children. Ofelia correctly guesses which hole the key fits in, and has collected the knife. This does not awaken the monster. She passes the feast, and of course eats two grapes.

This awakens the monster.

You knew it was coming. The monster collects the eyes from the plate, somehow while blind, and inserts them into his hands. WTF? He doesn't have eyes on his head. He puts his hands up to his head and his fingers, with the creepy nails, streak out from his head as if the hands are a bad mask. The scriptwriter and director really build up his deviousness. He grabs fairies out of the air and bites their heads off. What an evil psycho? Plus, he eats fairies, which should not be in anyone's diet. He has demonstrated his creep factor (95 out of 100), and only has Ofelia to eat next. This sets up a chase. The mummy looking guy is weirdly built. His skin hangs like an old man, he's pale as an albino, his legs are sticks, and he moves herky jerky. The movement makes him even more alien and therefore repulsive. Ofelia does not get back in time as the magic door closes and she tries to draw a new door. Her chalk breaks, he's getting closer, oh no, what will happen. I expected Ofelia to use the knife to kill the evil mummy guy. The director goes in a different direction, and I applaud it.

The movie does have some predictable moments. Some turns are telegraphed or at least are unsurprising as they happen. This does not take away from the beautiful outdoor scenes, the fantastic fantasy world sets, the solid dual story, and good acting from a child actor. The evil step-father is played well and a bit complicated. He's not just a jerk. He has an odd relationship hinted at with his dad, with history, with notions of honor, nobility and duty, and his desire for a son. He's not all evil, but he is pretty bad. You cheer for him to get his ass kicked and killed. The movie makes you want the heroine to succeed and the villain to fail. The movie takes you on a ride for 2 hours, and is rewatchable. Watch it, and you will be entertained.

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