Artpig (Brett)’s review published on Letterboxd:
Shoot- I was totally wrong on this one.
I first saw Pans Labyrinth like a couple of years ago expecting it to be an all time favorite and it was a let down for me. I thought it looked neat but something about the story didn't connect with me.
I can see now really what threw me off from the film initially- it has parts that are just really dark and grim. I figured this would be just more of an evolved, grown up version of a Disney fairytale and it certainly is that- but, a lot of the movie more so has to do with Spanish Civil War.
All of that stuff this time around I found absolutely traumatizing. I think it's interesting that this is a film with really creepy and oozing imagery from Del Toro himself yet all of the fantastical elements in this movie is when you feel the most safe.
That's because the true horror of this movie is The Captain because, sadly intolerant, hateful bigots like him walk among us in everyday life. He's a big bully that happens to have gained an army- a pitiful man and honestly one of my most hated movie characters along the lines of Umbridge and Neal Perry's dad in Dead Poets Society (and that brat from Camp Rock, ha ha.)
His scenes work as the scariest parts of the film. I was confused first watch why so much attention was put on how evil he was, but, when you look at what Del Toro is doing- he's creating a horror movie. The Captain is Micheal Meyers, or Freddy Krueger. He makes his mark in the worst of ways and is the boogeyman we fear of. These scenes aren't supposed to be us cheering for the next creative kill like in a Halloween film, however. It's supposed to make us squirm, which in return proves its points of the corruption of a military like this more.
Of course, my favorite parts of this movie is everything in the Labyrinth. I love all of the imagery, the amazing practical effects, the dazzling cinematography. It's so immersive and amazing. To see all the lessons learned in this Labyrinth (some very Biblical right down to the forbidden fruit) and how that correlates with the outside world is very interesting.
I also cared for all these characters. There are such devastating moments in this that wrenched my heart. It was just absolutely insane. I won't forget about this movie for a long long time.
To call this movie bittersweet is kinda an understatement. I don't know how to feel- I just feel, a lot of things and I can leave it at that. I do prefer The Shape of Water however, because that movie just kinda makes me happy all over, but, this is easily an all time great I can now see and its one I'll return to soon to see more and more what Del Toro does when crafting his masterpieces.
The man is becoming one of my favorite directors- easily.