Hello, how’s it going? I’m the new kid at Weebl's Stuff. Please don’t bog wash me and take my lunch money. Weebl asked me to test my mettle before he lets me take the pledge of allegiance, so he's let me loose on the last Orange Wednesday
film review, which involves watching Pan's Labyrinth, then talking about it. Seems simple enough, lets see how we get on.
Picture the look and feel of the film Labyrinth; its unashamed fantasy, eerie creatures with magical purpose, and a young girl trapped between two worlds, one of mystery and imagination, the other a tethering reality. Now imagine David Bowie smashing Hoggle in the face with a broken bottle, and those fire bird mentalists all toting machine guns, and that's pretty much Pan’s Labyrinth... Minus all the singing.
The 'real' story is that a young girl called Ofelia is being sent to live at a military outpost in Franco’s Spain with her new dad, the warm and cuddly Captain Vidal. He's so affectionate that he kills two villagers for having a picnic (the aforementioned face smashing incident happens here, feel free to hide your face behind your bag of pic'n'mix). She escapes into books of fairy tales, and this is where the 'fantasy' world begins. She finds a portal inside the maze in the garden (hence Labyrinth), and in that portal she finds a flat faced, scary looking faun (hence Pan), who tells her she is really an underworld princess reincarnated into the body of a human child, and she can return to this existence with him if she follows his instructions to the letter. Probably not a great lesson for a kiddie, but then with all the swearing and throat cutting that goes on, no kiddie will ever be able to see it, so it doesn't need to be a 'Charlie says' type safety film. He sets her three tasks, all of which get progressively nastier. She has to deal with massive angry toads and a terrifying beastie that moves really slowly, but loves the taste of human flesh (I had to avert my eyes for this one, it was horrifically scary, but then I had to hide behind a cushion for The Grudge skit on Scary Movie 4). All the while she has to try and stay out of new Dad’s way, look after her newly born baby brother, and protect her vulnerable mother, all while trying to dodge stray bullets and be a good daughter.
Pan's Labyrinth is a very odd fish, with the stark realities of the war and the resistance fight being interwoven with the Hensonesque fantasy. Guillermo del Toro has always been known for dark themes, having directed Hellboy and Blade 2, but here he seems to have slipped into something even darker. Having a child as your main character will always do this, and doing horrible nasty things to such a vulnerable child makes it even darker still. Having said all this though, it was a great feeling to go the cinema and still be surprised by a film. I totally loved it; it's soft, gentle, horrible, terrifying and mesmerising all at the same time. The ending has sparked loads of did she/didn't she conversations in the Darling/Weebl household. The acting is superb, especially little Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who totally holds the screen whenever she's on it. Watch this film, it's a must.
How did I do Mr Weebl? Do I get a clubhouse key now, and a jacket with my name on it?