Guillermo Del Toro is a genius, and I feel that all the praise being heaped on Pan’s Labyrinth is completely deserved.
Set in war torn Spain, Labyrinth tells the story of Ofelia, a twelve year old girl played brilliantly by Ivana Baquero, who moves in with her Mother and her new husband at his mill / military headquarters. He is a Captain in Franco’s army, and he is not a nice man. Ofelia finds solace in a forgotten labyrinth on the mill’s grounds, where she discovers a whole other world that she may or may not be a part of.
Enter Pan, the faun, expertly embodied by Doug Jones, who previously gave life to Abe Sapien in Del Toro’s HELLBOY, and will soon be seen portraying the Silver Surfer in the upcoming Fantastic Four sequel. Jones also portrays an unnamed character in the film, known in the credits as “the pale man”, and the less I say about him, the better.
The Captain is played with unflinching harshness by Sergi Lopez, and he’s a contemptible man. Lopez’ portrayal is chilling. This guy could easily be the worst (I guess I mean “best”) screen villain in a while!
The captain’s servant is played wonderfully by Maribel Verdu, best known for Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. Her character is a pillar of strength, and Verdu’s performance is truly believable.
There are great visuals in the movie both in the “real world” of war and suffering, and in the “fantasy” world of faeries and fauns and giant toads. Not all the visuals are pretty; many are quite gruesome, surprisingly more so in the “real world” of the film, so the movie definitely earns it’s R rating. The music in the film is also quite exquisite. All around, Pan’s Labyrinth is a great film.
But young Ms Baquero is the star. She’s an amazing young actress who can easily give young Ms Fanning a run for the money. Her future is a bright one.