Friday, January 19, 2007

Look at me, I left my apartment. And I stayed sober!

If you were to say to me, "There's this movie. It's a fairy tale. It has some mythological motifs. And everyone says it's awesome." I'd respond by saying, "Oh really, do tell me more."

"It's directed by the dude who directed Hellboy."

"Hmm..." I would stroke my goatee and think to myself "Hellboy wasn't GREAT, but it had a great look to it."

You'd go on to say, "It's entirely in Spanish with English subtitles."

To which I would exclaim, "I'm in!" Because, apparently I get over excited sometimes.

My decision to go see Pan's Labyrinth, however, was NOTHING like that. Except for the parts that were. But go I did. To a theater. See, I do go out sometimes. Ha!

It started with a prologue to fill you in on the back story (kinda like Lord of the Rings, but shorter). Apparently, the princess of the underworld snuck off into the human world and became mortal. Her father, the King of the underworld, then set up some portals so that one day, she could return.

We then flash to Spain, 1944. Carmen and her daughter Ofelia are off to live with Carmen's new husband, Captain Vidal. Carmen is very pregnant, and Ofelia is really into fairy tales. Along the rad, Carmen begins to feel sick, so they pull the car over. Ofelia gets out and finds a rock with an eye on it. She puts the rock into a statue and a crazy giant bug comes out. Then, Ofelia rejoins her mother and they go back to their trip.

They get to the fort, and we meet Captain Vidal. He's unhappy because they're 15 minutes late. The bug Ofelia saw earlier seems to have followed them, and she chases after it, into the woods. Into a labyrinth, where she meant a faun.

The faun tells Ofelia that SHE is the missing princess and must complete three tasks to return to her kingdom. He gives her a book, and tells her that the book will tell her what the tasks will be.

First, she has to feed rocks to a grumpy toad and retrieve a key. In doing this, she gets very dirty.

But she has the key. Mission Completed. Key or not, mom is pissed at how dirty she got her new dress. Mom, however is getting sick, and Ofelia can't concentrate on her tasks. The faun is none to happy about that. Regardless, she must move on to the next mission. Take this chalk and draw a door. Use the key to retrieve something and hurry back. Oh, by the way, no matter how good the food looks...keep your grubby little mitts off of it. Of course, she doesn't listen and eats two grapes. Her punishment? This dude:

Who bites the heads off of fairies and apparently eats little kids. The faun gets PISSED because Ofelia disobeyed and tells her she must remain mortal now.

This whole story is set against the Spanish Civil War. You have the military, headed by Captain Vidal, versus the rebels in a guerrilla war. And what's amazing is that of all of the creatures that we see, none of them are nearly as evil as Captain Vidal. Vidal is simply one of the LEAST sympathetic characters I've ever seen in a movie.

I'll stop the play by play here so there's enough suspense left for you when you go see the movie.

Pan's Labyrinth was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro. And del Toro has certainly crafted an amazing film here. It's easy to see why it's won so many awards. The visuals are great, the characters are interesting, the acting is great. There are very few flaws in this movie. It's biggest shortcoming may well be it's pacing. The side story involving the war, while serving to show how horrible a person Vidal is, drags on a bit and much of it felt unneeded. The only other real problem is that Ofelia's tasks almost seem too simple. It may just be me though. None of this really hurts the film though. In the end I give it 8 drops of blood from an innocent out of 10.