Rashid N.’s review published on Letterboxd:
Criterion Challenge 2021 | Week #6
I have dim memories of me as a child watching Pan's Labyrinth which was being played on TV. I sat there in wonder and awe of the fantastical elements. Over time, I completely forgot about the film and seeing an opportunity to get myself to rewatch this, I added it to the Criterion Challenge of which I am participating in and because of my forgetfulness, this ended up being like a first-watch for me. It wasn't as good as I hoped for it to be but damn it was great!
Similarly to what I discussed in my Brokeback Mountain review and how Ang Lee had sort of taken a fall from grace, this could also be said for Guillermo Del Toro who in recent times has found success with the Best Picture winner The Shape of Water but has also found failure with Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak. Furthermore, Del Toro has produced quite a few movies for children yet none of them have been able to match Del Toro's own film about childlike wonder, 2006's Pan's Labyrinth, a genuinely brilliant film that managed to find and maintain the boundary between the wonders of tons of fantastical elements and the seriousness and depressing nature of war.
Using mystical characters to represent deeper issues in the world while also showcasing the horrific nature of the monstrosity of humanity, Del Toro executed his screenplay amazingly. It's a real shame that he has taken a step back from his former greatness because Pan's Labyrinth is both such a terrifying and beautiful film that is very smart and works very well. To see Del Toro like this again would be truly a marvel to witness.
Yet, it wasn't just Del Toro who worked his magic here as we also had the eye-catching cinematography from Guillermo Navarro, incredibly powerful and magnificent score composed by Javier Navarrete, and extremely impressive make-up and costumes. All of these aspects and more came together seamlessly to craft a wonderful look into childhood wonders and horrors plus much more.
I feel like I say this in nearly all of my reviews but Pan's Labyrinth had quite a few predictable elements and generic tropes which bothered me. Some other things which bothered me were specific scenes which I obviously won't discuss because of spoilers. But other than that, damn what a film! Glad to have been able to rewatch this because it's such an extraordinary film that is full of depth. Going to also link Alan's review because of how smartly written it is. He has a lot of in-depth thoughts so go read his review.