Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth ★★★★½

Fairy tales are often seen as a form of escapism, finding magic and wonder away from a more mundane and/or difficult reality. What makes Pan's Labrinth so brilliant is taking that idea and putting the darkest spin on it possible. Not just in how the mythical creatures are portrayed, but in how despite their more frightening presence, they still serve as an escape from an even worse reality. They help us get away from the depressing, horrifying war drama that surrounds Ofelia, to the point where her Happily Ever After is ... yeah ...

The digital effects aren't always 100% convincing to me, but the makeup and practical work done is some of the best you can find. I'm convinced that Del Toro keeps using Doug Jones for these roles because he's the only actor who'll willingly subject himself to such overbearing makeup. And all respect to him for it, as it really pays off.

You could watch this either as a dark, depressing fairytale, or an unflinchingly brutal war drama with some fantastical elements tossed in. It works either way, and makes this a highly innovative, fantastically crafted, and deeply passionate experience.

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