I love the Lord of the Rings films...no big surprise...Since the last chapter of the Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, my movie going experience has waxed and waned. Oh, there have been some good movies since the LOTR's, like Big Fish,Batman Begins, The Harry Potter movies,Princess Mononoke,the Revenge of the Sith, and most recently Little Miss Sunshine...but...no movie has captured my imagination, heart,and soul like the Lord of the Rings. Over the years I have written a few movie reviews and plugged this film or that but I generally don't recommend films I haven't seen. The last film I plugged prior to actually having seen the film was the Lord of the Rings but I did so only after doing my homework by reading numerous early reviews and following closely the process of the production from my various website and media sources. I mention all of this to say that I again want to go out on a limb and recommend a film I haven't seen.The film is called Pan's Labyrinth. Pan's Labyrinth is a fantasy film which is set during the rise of fascism in Spain during WWII. The film is directed by Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro which also directed Hell Boy, Mimic, The Devils Backbone, and Cronos. This film came to my attention a couple of weeks ago after reading a review by a movie critic on one of the websites I frequently visit. Over the past two weeks I have been following this film very closely reading anything I could find on the film and the consensus is that this is an astounding film.Here are what some of the critics are saying about this film....Richard Roeper says...Best fantasy film since LOTR...Christianity Today... It would probably have delighted Tolkien and Lewis, who believed that fairy tales help us apprehend the reality of grace as it glimmers through a screen, darkly...and...Roger Ebert...Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is that rarest of cinematic rarities, a fully and flawlessly realized fantasy film
And, here are some more rants and raves from other critics across the country...
The horrors of both the realistic and surrealistic worlds are woven into the beautifully aligned narrative structure of del Toro's story. This is fabulous filmmaking in every sense of the word.
Pan's Labyrinth artfully fuses a war film with a family melodrama and a fairy tale. The result is visually stunning and emotionally shattering. Though graphically violent in parts, it still manages to be enchanting.
Rarely in film history has such elaborate fantasy been put in the service of such a profound and serious treatment of reality. But Pan's Labyrinth is an extraordinary film made by an exceptional visionary.
This magnificent and moving horror-fantasy for adults has already been raking in nearly unanimous acclaim... I'm not only on the bandwagon, I'm proudly riding shotgun for one of the richest films of 200
Best picture of 2006: This vividly aesthetic, poignantly haunting, densely rich fable for adults represents the maturation of del Toro as a director of the first rank, raising the bar of the fantasy genre; the most visionary film in Cannes Fest this year.
By juxtaposing inhuman military brutality with the idealism and imagery of a fairy tale, del Toro integrates the two, creating a credible tension between both.
And, finally Harry Knowles of Aint it Cool News had this to say about the film he picked as his favorite film of 2006..."it engaged me as a waking dream and nightmare. One that I never wanted to wake from. When the end credits came, I wept, wept because I was so proud of Guillermo, wept because I didn’t want it to end and wept because I knew it’d be months before I’d see it again. The film is set in the agony of reality and the dream of fantasy – and the care taken in the telling of both is that of the finest craftsman. It is an immaculate conception. Brilliant from beginning to end. Guillermo has made his first MASTERPIECE"
Pan's Labyrinth is not for everyone. It is not a pop culture, sentimental, good verses evil fantasy film. The film is apparently dark, violent, disturbing which warrants a R rating. Many have compared the film to the dark tradition of the fairy tales found in the Brother Grimm stories. Also,the film is not in English which will no doubt scare away more than a few movie goers...but... for fantasy nuts like myself or anyone that loves the art of great filmaking this film sounds like a must see. Unfortunately, because the film is foreign it may not come to Bakersfield but if it doesn't I am planning to travel to L.A. to see the film while also checking out the new Icon exhibit at the Getty Museum and when I do I'll write up a review of my impressions of what sounds like a great film...If you want to know more about the plot and basic storyline I would suggest visiting rottentomatoes where you can find more reviews and a more detailed description of the film which is being hailed as a masterpiece by many of the critics of the movie industry.