Pan's Labyrinth ★★★★★

PAN'S LABYRINTH, the very best work from Guillermo del Toro, is a wondrous and terrifying film. Coupling his preternatural talents for world construction with radical empathy, Del Toro's tale of Ofelia, a young girl trapped between a hellish underworld and an even more hellish reality, is tremendously realized.

The film taps into the powerful world of childhood imagination. Ofelia, a 10-year-old girl caught up in the violence that followed the Spanish Civil War, learns that she may in fact be the reincarnation of Princess Moanna, a princess of the underworld. To prove herself, she must complete three trials before she will be accepted back into her kingdom.

Del Toro's genius here is how brilliantly he weaves the two worlds together, creating a very real sense of danger for Ofelia wherever she is. The results are beautiful and heartrending in equal measure.

Rewatching PAN'S LABYRINTH is also an important reminder of how silly the Academy Awards can be. That Del Toro was ultimately rewarded for THE SHAPE OF WATER is preposterous. PAN'S LABYRINTH is his masterpiece.