I Fell Victim to Hype: Pan’s Labyrinth

2007 January 31
by CajoleJuice

Just looking at that picture, I should’ve known I wouldn’t enjoy this movie all that much. Seriously, what the fuck is that? Everything about the film screamed out to me – DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE!. I saw the trailer a while ago and my friend and I agreed that it looked like a strange, stupid children’s movie. The mere mention of “fantasy” makes my skin crawl. The movie is directed by the same guy behind a masterpiece such as “Hellboy.” And it’s subtitled. The last part doesn’t really bother me, but it just added gasoline to the flames. It’s easy in retrospect to look back and think, “I should’ve known I wouldn’t like this movie.” But it’s hard to ignore when critics are heaping praise a mile high on top of a movie. I figured the fantasy elements might not annoy me too much. (Hell, I don’t even love the Lord of the Rings trilogy as much as many people my age – or any age) The R rating and the ratings that Pan’s Labyrinth has on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic tricked me into thinking this would be some sort of genre-transcending masterpiece. Unfortunately, it’s not.

First off, the bits of graphic violence that litter the movie, leading to its R rating, are wholly unnecessary. Yes, I understand that they were used to display the cruely of the general and the brutality of war – but then minutes later I felt I was watching a children’s movie. An extremely fucked-up children’s movie – but still a children’s movie, nonetheless. I just don’t understand what audience this movie was meant for. Maybe it’s just not meant for young adult males who feel uncomfortable watching a poorly imagined faun (a half-tree, half-man) talk in Spanish accented with some weird noises. Or watching the movie’s protagonist, Ofelia, run from a disturbing character than looks like something out of a Marilyn Manson or Tool music video.

The movie isn’t all bad, I guess. The acting is definitely top-notch and the story as a whole is at least very original. I guess I just expected more from a movie that has the most universal acclaim I’ve basically ever seen. Pan’s Labyrinth has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a site that gives movies ratings based on whether its reviews are positive or negative. This usually leads to a inflated score most of the time, especially compared to a site like Metacritic. But this film has a 98 on Metacritic! That doesn’t happen. I think every critic made an agreement to hype this movie as The Wizard as Oz for adults or something. No movies get this amount of unabashed praise. I’m just here to provide a foil to this circle-jerk. If you want to see a true visual spectacle – if you really want to be transported to a brilliantly constructed and original setting – go see Children of Men. It’s not like Pan’s Labyrinth is any less depressing.

You might be thinking this is all sour grapes. Well, it is. I don’t want other people spending their money on a movie they might only be interested due to the universal acclaim the film is receiving. Hopefully, most people aren’t as easily influenced as I am, and they’ve already made their decision based on their relative distaste or attraction towards fantasy film-making.

Goddamn it. I thought this movie would be a gateway to “expanding my horizons” or something of that sort. Well, screw that. The Departed is coming out on DVD in two weeks, and I’ll be finally able to watch the true movie of 2006 over and over again. Children of Men wasn’t too shabby either.

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