Luke Robertson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Guillermo Del Toro delivers again with Pan's Labyrinth for me. It's a weird thing to say because the film is widely regarded as his best film. But I hadn't seen it up until tonight. The film is so beautiful in so many ways, from graceful camerawork to the unique creatures.
So first the creatures, they are unlike anything I've ever seen before and I have seen a lot of films in my time. Yet something about them seems so real. Maybe it's because some of them are mortifying but the fact they're rough around the edges make it so much more real. The details in the movements and little pieces of personality are all touches I can appreciate.
Some of the shots in this film will put films that were acclaimed for cinematography to shame. Now bear in mind I'm not a film expert in any way shape or form. The scene at the end comes to mind. Explosions everywhere and the transitions from light to dark create some of the most epic scenes I have seen.
The score is also spectacular. It adds all of the little touches to the film where it needs them. Some of the films most heartfelt moments are made even better by the score.
Del Toro is a master of making the most bizarre of stories completely relevant. Who would have thought a film about a girl who escaped the underworld would seem so real. It hits so close to home and is set in such a difficult world. Spain under General Franco was not an easy place to be and you could immediately feel the tension. Captain Vidal is a character I'll remember for a while and he's going straight on my excellent villain list. He fits there because, to be honest, I hate that guy. Not only is he a fascist but he is proud of it. His actions are deplorable and half of the time without reason. My favourite quote comes from the doctor talking about the captain "But Captain, to obey, just like that, for obedience's sake... without questioning... That's something only people like you do." He is the example of "just following orders". Characters like that deserve their comeupance and as expected he gets it REAL good.
This is now my favourite Del Toro film and one of my first experiences of Spanish cinema. I think I may have only seen Roma and that is my only other Spanish film experience. Both films couldn't be more different. So if you have more Del Toro/Spanish film suggestions then do tell me.