Fast-Paised review: 'Pan's Labyrinth'

EntertainmentMoviesGuillermo del ToroMusic IndustryDoug JonesAlfonso CuaronGaming

In 1944 Spain, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) must complete three unusual tasks given to her by a faun. Meanwhile, Ofelia and her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil) suffer under the powerful hand of Ofelia's stepfather, a brutally violent army captain (Sergi Lopez). The film is written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro ("Hellboy").

Big question: Is this a full-fledged fantasy or a story of the echoes of war through a family?

Catch it: The foundation of a young girl avoiding her miserable life is pretty basic, but "Pan's Labyrinth" can also be a magical opportunity to enjoy the wonders that lurk in a child's mind. This land exists somewhere between Narnia and "The Legend of Zelda," and it's an escape from everyday dreariness of which you'll want more than the film will offer.

Skip it: If you don't want to see a giant toad burp so strongly that it jumps out of its skin. Please don't try this at home.

Bottom line: A lot of "Pan's Labyrinth" threatens to thrill but mostly keeps us anxiously waiting to finish with real stuff and return to the fantasy. Yet while the different sections of the film don't mesh, it's all beautifully shot and well acted, and two creepy and great-looking sequences make "Pan's Labyrinth" worth seeing on visual splendor alone.

Bonus: Think you have no willpower for your favorite foods? Consider if you could resist eating forbidden fruit if you knew it would bring on the wrath of a creature with eyes on its hands. Did Adam and Eve teach us nothing?

Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.

----

'Pan's Labyrinth'

Directed and written by Guillermo del Toro; photographed by Guillermo Navarro; edited by Bernat Vilaplana; production designed by Eugenio Caballero; music by Javier Navarrete; produced by Alvaro Augustin, Alfonso Cuaron, Bertha Navarro, Frida Torresblanco. (In Spanish, with English subtitles.) A Picturehouse release; opens Friday in Landmark's Century Centre Cinema, the AMC River East 21 and the Evanston 18. Running time: 1:52. MPAA rating: R (for graphic violence and some language).

Ofelia - Ivana Baquero

Vidal - Sergi Lopez

Mercedes - Maribel Verdu

Carmen - Ariadna Gil

Pan/Pale Man - Doug Jones

Dr. Ferreiro - Alex Angulo

King - Federico Luppi

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
EntertainmentMoviesGuillermo del ToroMusic IndustryDoug JonesAlfonso CuaronGaming
  • year's best movies

    Read the Fast-Paised Top 10 of 2006. Video: function displayVideoHelp(){var videohelppage = window.open('http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/broadband/stv-video-trouble,0,2616238.htmlstory?video=', 'CONTENT');}function playVideoClip () {displayVideoHelp();}...

  • this week's movies
  • Make a night of it

    Find: • Recommended dining • Recommended bars

Comments
Loading