reibureibu’s review published on Letterboxd:
Up until now I've only seen Guillermo del Toro at his kitschiest: his brilliantly entertaining B-movie of Pacific Rim and his ridiculously fun and creative Hellboy films. So while I do admire him quite a bit, I still never felt like I understood why exactly people praised him so much as an acclaimed visionary and I figured I wouldn't until I saw his more serious films.
Pan’s Labyrinth basically confirms both what I already knew (that the man truly does have an eye for dark fantasy that's sorely lacking in the film industry) and what I gleaned from others (that he really is an astounding director and deserves the renown he's built-up). There's a vivid synthesis of the harsh realities of a fascist war-state and a childlike playfulness, a type of genre- and tone-blending that I've only really found as masterfully done with directors like Bong Joon-ho and at this point indicative of a real auteur to me considering how defiantly difficult it is to label such works.
"You're getting older, and you'll see that life isn't like your fairy tales. The world is a cruel place. And you'll learn that, even if it hurts."
And that's the real impressive nature of the work, is how it takes an amalgamate of themes and imagery from its inspirations and predecessors and still executes it so well. Perhaps the biggest fault I can find with it is that I wish it delved more into its creation, its surreal and bizarre world it teases. I think that's indication enough of its prestige.