Sunday, February 28, 2010

Review: The Crazies (2010)

Director: Breck Eisner
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson

So apparently this is a remake of a George Romero film from the early 70s, which I was not at all familiar with at the time of seeing this movie. Well, if that's the case, then I seriously doubt this 2010 remake version does it any justice, because this is a terrible film that I have a hard time believing anyone could actually derive enjoyment from.

Breck Eisner's The Crazies presents a story we've all seen a hundred times, done in a way that is not particularly engaging or well written. Yeah, yeah, you've got your small town, your stock characters - seriously, the sheriff is married to the only doctor in town? Pretty convenient, guys - and your nasty, evil government dropping nuclear weapon testing in without consulting anyone, resulting in, what else?, a full fledged zombie attack. Nothing about this movie really goes for the throat, like a good horror movie should. It's all very lethargically done, very tired. The acting is mostly phoned in, and the characters are pretty much uniformly bland. I don't really care what happens to them at any point in this movie.

Every horror cliche is explored in droves. Ooh, loud noises to make the audience jump. Ooh, dire situations avoided at the last possible second by a very, very convenient save - like one scene where Tim Olyphant saves his wife from the government right when she's about to be stabbed by one of the 'crazies.' How convenient is that? This wouldn't happen in real life. In real life, she'd be human meat in a few seconds flat; there's almost no chance that he'd get there RIGHT AT THE VERY SECOND she was about to be stabbed! I know it's silly to ask for a lot of realism in a horror movie, but things like this are exactly where a little bit of realism would be nice; so as to provide extra tension that will make us squirm.

Or how about another scene, where Radha Mitchell is tied up and Tim Olyphant gets ambushed as he comes to get her, getting stabbed through the hand with a knife. In a truly unbelievable stunt, he actually RIPS THE KNIFE OUT OF THE FLOOR and STABS HIS ATTACKER with it still lodged in his hand. The other attacker is then swiftly shot from through a window by Joe Anderson's deputy character, at an impossible angle from where he was shown to be standing. See what I mean? This is stupid! There's no tension here, no reason to fear for the characters when they're always saved without any kind of real harm coming to them. It's like a horror movie for people who hate horror movies - it's just about as safe and unassuming as can be.

And what the fuck is up with the jump scares? Is that really the best they can do, having loud bangs whenever someone comes in unexpectedly to startle the audience? It's dumb as shit. There's no thought, creativity or talent put into any of this, and they do it OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Yeah, go ahead Breck Eisner, keep on doing your fucking jumpy scares, don't bother trying to actually evoke an atmosphere or actually shock the audience, no! That's for pussies.

God, this sucks.

No character development, no excitement, no drive. This movie is just a safe trip down the production line with no surprises at all. Bottom line, The Crazies is horrible. It's got no balls, it rides on the coattails of a hundred better movies and there's simply nothing about it that's entertaining or interesting at all; a throwaway movie if there ever was one. I know it's a remake and that a lot of the supposed 'generic' things I mention here are probably trends started by movies like the original version of this, but then my question is, why does this remake need to exist at all when there are so many films that do this exact same thing but better? Just watch [REC], Pontypool, SLiTHER and Planet Terror for four modern movies that take this formula and actually make good movies out of it. I didn't expect anything from The Crazies and that's about exactly what I got. Wretched.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Langoliers (TV Mini-Series) (1995)

Staring: David Morse, Mark Lindsay Chapman, Bronson Pinchot
Directed by Tom Holland

This is a good TV mini-series. It keeps you guessing the characters try to figure out what is responsible for their mysterious circumstances and how they can get out of it.

The acting is decent overall. I liked David Morse as usual, as well as Mark Lindsay Chapman's character of Nick Hopewell. Bronson Pinchot as Craig Toomey is so annoying and yet he is funny at the same time. My favorite character was Bob Jenkins, played by Dean Stockwell who is a representation of Stephen King in the series, (though the himself makes a cameo appearance toward the end during a hallucination sequence). He is always thinking about what is happening and why it is happening, and when he does, he has a curious look on his face and goes into these long, complicated, detailed rants about his latest theory. He goes overboard sometimes, but he is still fun to listen to for some reason. Therefore, I bestowed upon him the title of "Contemplation Dude".  A fair amount of the dialogue that is used can be a bit corny, but it still works, probably because it matches the personality of the characters.

The series has its flaws. The obvious one is the length, though criticizing it for that is a little unfair since it was first aired on TV with two episodes airing one night and the other two airing the following week. That was fine, but if you watch all 3 hours of it in one sitting, it can be pretty exhausting. The last quarter or so of the picture, which was probably done to fill up space before the commercial break. I do not know if it worked then, but it certainly does not work now, and I think it could have been trimmed a bit. There are also two characters, Don Gaffney and Albert Kaussner (played by Frankie Faison and Christopher Collet respectively), who do not really do anything except move things around and are not really needed in the grand scheme of things. The special effects are pretty cheesy, about what you would expect from a TV mini-series made in 1995. It is kind of a shame because it spends so much time building up for the coming of the Langoliers, but when you actually see them they are kind of lame. All that said, I think this would have been served better if it were a feature length film rather than a mini-series; that way the time would have been watered down and the budget would have been bigger. As it is, though, it is still enjoyable. I recommend it, as long as you can find time for it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: Triangle (2009)

Director: Christopher Smith
Starring: Emma Lung

They say what happens in the Bermuda Triangle is some seriously weird shit, and if my intuition is correct, the weirdest of all is just the absolute incompetence with which amateurish directors make horror movies about it. Let's dig into this latest festering pile of plot convolutions called Triangle...pack your swim gear, because this ship is sinking fast.

So we start off with a mother telling her child that it's okay, and that it was all a dream. Exactly what I wish I could say about this movie, what a coincidence...we then cut to a harbor, where a prissy guy in a sailor's outfit is taking his friends on a cruise in the middle of the day. His friends are uniformly and unrealistically attractive, as if they didn't even try to hide the fact that they were picked up off of Baywatch or something. Oh, and the ship is actually called Triangle, which is just a weird name for a ship in general. I mean...Triangle? Couldn't you have gone with something like Skipper? Or maybe just the name of your girlfriend?

The acting is pretty cardboard, and none of the characters are really given personalities. That's not usually a detriment to a horror movie, but man, I wish more would at least try at this. The only story we really get is that the woman from the beginning, whose name is Jess, has an autistic son, that the couple (Sally and Downey) are uppity white-collar suburban types who indulge in every stereotype from knowing nothing about the ocean to trying to set their friend Greg the sailor up with random and unwilling blind dates. This particular blind date, and by far the most compelling character in the movie, is named Heather. Remember the name, because she will be, by far, the most prominent character in the movie.

Our heroes sail off into the picturesque blue sea, until they reach, gasp, the Bermuda Triangle, where a gigantic storm almost immediately wipes them out. Somehow, all of them survive mostly unharmed and not even that wet, finding their ways to the surface as the storm easily passes over. The only one missing is Heather, who Sally cries over and everyone else pretty much forgets about. Will she come back? The suspense is building up...especially as they find a mysteriously abandoned ocean liner sailing toward them, somehow boarding with relative ease even from their small, battered boat.

Eventually, through a long, dark series of events and The Shining rip offs, our cast begins to get killed off. Jess, who has been experiencing Deja Vu as she walks through the halls of the ship, is blamed, and this starts off an even more complicated set of plot twists. Apparently, history is repeating itself in a loop, and Jess begins to see her kinda-sorta-friends killed off over and over again. Confronted by the masked killer, she is told that she needs to kill all of her friends off in order to stop the loop. Surprised?

Actually this is a pretty cool plot point. The whole middle section is actually pretty chilling, aside from the usual low budget restrictions. The suspense is good, there are some shocking scenes that I won't spoil for you, and there's actually some pretty brutal, insane psychological horror mixed in. I do have to nitpick a little, though; it's kind of lame how they just pad out the movie by recycling the dialogue tracks from earlier in the movie, rather than fleshing things out. Sure, it's supposed to be like time travel or some shit, but still.

The plot just gets weirder and weirder though, losing the viewer more and more. It gets too complicated, and eventually it just doesn't make any real sense. There are a lot of symbolic points, a lot of plot twists that tie together, but really my question is why? Jess ends up washed up on the shore, where she finds her own house and sees what an abusive, rude bitch of a mother she really was to her poor autistic son. Where did this plot point come from; out of the writers' asses? It kind of makes sense, given the hints earlier in the movie, but again, why? Couldn't you have just made a good psycho-suspenseful-thriller flick and left this out? It's kind of unpleasant, and doesn't really add much to the movie. And then we get a lot of stuff about death, cramming a whole movie's worth of plot twists and unbelievable bullcrap into ten minutes of confusion. So...what? There's a taxi driver meant to be Death, tying into the film's foreshadowing with Aeolus the Greek God of Wind, who cheated Death, and Jess cheated death by going on the cruise, and...

Oh, who cares? This movie is just confusing. It's too complex for its own good. The acting isn't good, the scary parts are botched up by the film's attempts at being 'deep,' and the movie just isn't satisfying at its end. There are some very cool parts here, and I like how depraved it gets at times, but that isn't enough - you have to actually tie your film together as a cohesive whole, guys! This movie just doesn't work.

But wait! What happened to Heather?! She was...never even mentioned again, at all! What was the point of even including her? My guess is, she probably walked off the set after realizing this movie wasn't going to get her a career. Smart choice, girlie. We'll remember your last words, "I'm not interested," forever. RIP.

Monday, February 22, 2010

W. (2008)

Staring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell
Directed by Oliver Stone

"W" is Oliver Stone's film about the life of George W. Bush, who confronts many challenges and disappointments as we makes his way out of being the black sheep of the family and into the White House.

This is a terrible movie. I was surprised at how bad it was. I was not expecting it to be a masterpiece, but I was expecting it to be at least halfway decent. It wasn't: the story-line was disorganized, the acting ranged from mediocre to crappy, the dialoguewas ridiculous, and worst of all, it does not really serve a purpose.

The first part of the movie goes back and forth between the run up to the Iraq war and the events of Bush's young adulthood at a rapid paste and it is hard to keep up with it. There are also a lot of random scenes (like the pretzel incident) that make no sense in the overall picture or are just awkward. This eventually settles down, but then the movie continues to suffer as it goes from being confusing to just plain boring.

Josh Brolin does an okay job as Bush, but for most of the movie you can't help but notice that he seems to be playing a caricature of him instead of making seem "real"; he comes off as being like a second-rate Will Ferrel or Frank Calendo. Richard Dufress does a decent Dick Cheney impersonation (though his voice is a little off), but virtually everyone else either does look like/act like who they are supposed to be, does not try, does not really need to try, or does try and fails. The woman who played Condoleezza Rice deserves special mention; she combined bad acting with a random accent that does not appear to belong to any person, nationality, or ethnicity that I can think of.

Even if the acting was better, the performers would still fall victim to the bizarre screenplay; many scenes look like bad Saturday Night Live sketches (and those of you who have seen bad SNL sketches know just how low they can go). Sometimes they will bring up controversial political topics for about five seconds and then move on to something else without ever expanding on what they were talking about. It seems like they just pasted together a bunch of news paper headlines and infamous Bush quotes (yes, "misunderestimate" is in there, along with others) and tried to pass it off as everyday dialogue.
Perhaps one of the worst things about the film is that, in the end, it has no point. Supposedly, Oliver Stone wanted this to be a psychoanalyst of the president and how he came to be who he is and how he arrived at the decisions he made. Yet we are left not knowing how we are supposed to feel about Bush. Is he a stubborn jerk who didn't think properly? Is he a noble warrior who made some mistakes along the way? Is he a pitiful loser who had daddy issues? I suspect we are we supposed to decide for ourselves, right? Well, that may be a problem because Stone has been very outspoken against the former president, so no matter how much he may deny that his politics will slip into this movie, the objectivity of the film is always in question and is further injured by everything I have mentioned in the previous paragraphs. Whatever the answer is, it is not likely to satisfy anyone. Most conservatives probably will not see this movie, but even liberal Bush critics may be disappointed by it because Oliver Stone (sort of) tried to make the film balanced in order to avoid the type of controversy that he received when he made "JFK".

This film also shows that you should not try to do a movie about a president while he is still in office: everyone, including Stone, has their partisan opinions about him and everything is still in motion; its like making a movie based on a novel that has yet to be finished. Besides, why pay money to see a guy you could, up until recently, see in the news for free everyday? It's not like you are going to learn anything new about him.

Well, that's pretty much it. I may be being a bit hard on this movie because I am obsessed with politics, and I get annoyed when filmmakers feel like they are being politically astute when they are really just putting out a lot of garbage. However, no matter which way you spin it, (get it? politics, spin? heh heh heh...) you cannot escape the simple conclusion: this movie is really, really, really, bad. The End.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Review: The Spirit (2008)

Director: Frank Miller
Starring: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, Ellen Dolan

Okay, um...who let Frank Miller out of the basement again? This is The Spirit, and it is kind of

Well, it's going to hurt your brain. That's probably the best way to sum it up. This movie is about as coherent as a Peewee's Play House crack dream, and I think it might even be less coherent than that. Based on a 1940s comic strip, this movie probably has very little to do with it, so I won't talk about it very much. Instead, let's just get right to the bottom of this cinematic ass fisting and see how many brain cells we can burn.

So the first thing you'll probably notice is that Frank Miller has washed out all of the colors in this movie to a very annoying looking black and white. Why? I guess it's supposed to be, um, artistic, or something. You'll notice a lot of ham-fisted symbolism in this movie, none of which works or has any real meaning, despite what some people might tell you. The only people who would ever find this kind of thing endearing are the same people who will tell you that Donnie Darko is the most meaningful film ever; it's really quite insipid.

And how about that narration? Gabriel Macht, as far as I am concerned, should never be let near a microphone to narrate ever again. But then again, Frank Miller wrote this crap, so let's just level the whole blame at him. The narration is corny, overdramatic and very juvenile. There are a lot of eye-rolling parts where it just sounds like it was written by a fifteen year old. Pathetic. Macht isn't that great of an actor and the dialogue as a whole is universally lame and dry. The characters are all very weak and I didn't ever really give a crap what happened to any of them.

But what will really draw your attention are the weird ass scenes with Samuel L. Jackson making a buffoon of himself as the evil scientist The Octopus, and some of these I really love, even despite their sheer levels of acid-drenched insanity. Like there's one scene where he's just sitting there watching this robotic foot jump around on a table...what the fuck were the writers smoking? But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't funny.

Jackson really is the best thing about this movie - although Stana Katic as Morgenstern had serious unrealized potential for humor - but they even fuck that up once they actually have him come out in a Nazi outfit and start sermonizing his incredibly weird, weird plan for world domination. I know the intention here was to be funny...but it's not. It's mostly just weird. It's the kind of thing that will just make you scratch your head and wonder why.

Most of the movie is like that. The characters are boring, the story is just all over the place and while there are a few parts I thought were really funny, most of this is just weird, weird, weird. The Spirit is incredibly confused and botched; not knowing what it wants to do, marred mostly by weak directing and shitty, shitty writing. I appreciate the creative zest that peppers this, but that's not enough; you have to actually make it work. And this doesn't really do that at all.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Wolfman (2010)

Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt



Inspired by the classic Universal film that launched a legacy of horror, The Wolfman brings the myth of a cursed man back to its iconic origins. Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father (Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins), Talbot sets out to find his brother...and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself. [Note: this synopsis was shamelessly stolen from Flixster on Facebook].


This is a very good movie. While it is not spectacular in anyway, it is an intriguing film that supplies decent action sequences while exploring the hidden demons of man and the beast within.


De Toro does a good job as Talbot, who must simultaneously stop his own murderous rampage while also confront his unfortunate past. His transformation into the Wolfman is pretty cool, and the final result is fitting as well. He also runs really fast; I mean he is like Taz the Tasmanian devil from the Looney Tunes at times. Hopkins drifts through the first part and barely seems to be acting at all, but as his character develops more, he appears to become more involved in the role. And, not surprisingly, he is really crazy. Emily Blunt, as the semi-love interest of the story, plays a relatively minor role (except at the end), but she does well with what she has. Hugo Weaving also did a good job as a snobby but determined detective.


More of an action than a horror film, it nonetheless has fun showing off the gruesome deaths of the wolfman’s victims, which can be both bloody and pretty funny at the same time (and for those who are concerned, do not worry, it is not done in a campy fashion). I personally like the parts that take place in the woods, but the London scenes are pretty good as well, especially when all of the prim and proper English guys freak out when Talbot transforms.


The movie does have its flaws. Some of the scenes at the beginning are a bit choppy: the characters will be talking and then all the sudden it skips to the next part for no reason. I guess the filmmakers were trying to speed things up a bit so it did not drag out too long, which they should be given credit for, but they should have been a little more careful when it came to the editing. I also did not care much for the dream sequences; they were just too random, though it was kind of amusing to see Talbot have a double nightmare that each last but a few seconds.


None of this really matters in the last thirty minutes or so, which I think is the best part of the movie. It shows the violent struggle between a father and son, which perfectly illustrates the internal battle that man must fight in order to “defeat” his evil nature, though as the climax reveals, it never really goes away entirely.


Overall, it is an enjoyable time. For those who are wondering how this compares to the original 1940s film, I am afraid I cannot say since I have yet to see it, though I am now encouraged to do so after seen this new version. Anyway, I recommend this movie.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Name is Earl: A Recap (2005-2009)

Creator: Gregory Thomas Garcia
Starring: Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, Nadine Velazquez, Eddie Steeples

Karma. What can you say about it? Well, some might say that it is a complex Buddhist concept that is worth studying and learning about, but really, in the words of Earl Hickey, it's just "do good things and good things happen. Do bad things, and bad things happen." He learned this from Carson Daly while doped up on morphine after being hit by a car, and what followed formed the base for the hit sitcom My Name is Earl.

I mean, it's just such a cool idea for a show. A guy makes up for all the bad things he's done in the name of making his own life better. Hey, I can dig that. It's really enjoyable, and right from the first episode it entertains. Earl, played by Jason Lee, is a good protagonist, lending his laid back, simplistic world view to a number of situations and providing a level-headed backdrop for his kooky, insane and often criminal friends and acquaintances. It's a good contrast. His brother Randy, played by Ethan Suplee, is the typical dumb, happy-go-lucky character, but his lines are always funny and the acting is really good, too.

So, along with his cantankerous, wily ex-wife Joy, who birthed him two illegitimate children, her new husband Darnell, who is in the witness protection program and their maid, Catalina, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, we have the set up for the show. Earl does list items that lead to wacky, unbelievable situations that all have some kind of moral or lesson to them. Sometimes these morals seem hamfisted or childish, but I don't think they deter from the show at all. You don't always have to take it as a lesson, or talking down to you, or anything. Just let the lighthearted, good natured humor and essence of the show soak its way into your bones.

There were a lot of really good episodes, but for the earlier ones, I think one of my favorites was the one where Earl tries to atone for stealing the hot dog cart of a local merchant. It really spirals out of control after their friend Ralph, played by Giovanni Ribsi, is paid by a big corporation hot dog chain to burn down the cart for good. The gang, wanting vengeance, hatches a convoluted and hilarious plot to steal from the corporation to pay for a new hot dog cart - all in the name of karma. It's really hilarious and really worth watching.

Or how about "Y2K," where the gang relives their memories of the last day of 1999, where they apparently thought the world was going to end, leading to them creating a 'new world' inside an abandoned supermarket?

See? I love this show. And I'm not even done with season one yet. Season two is along the same lines, packing some really good episodes like "South of the Border," which follows Catalina's deportment back to Mexico, where Earl and Randy have to overcome a series of hardships on their ways to bring her back. I won't spoil it all for you if you haven't seen it - just go watch it now.

It's just a really good, solid set of episodes; the whole show is. It's not going to change your life, or make any philosophical statements. It's just a lot of fun. Everything is always done tightly and hilariously, and you can tell everyone involved was really enjoying what they were doing. The acting is great all around, too. Nothing ever feels half-assed for television.

Even when the show gets too crazy for its own good - like in season 3, where Earl gets in and out of jail, gets into a coma, has a fantasy of a sitcom inside his head, and then proceeds to chase a girl he barely knows because he thinks they're destined to be's still so goddamn gripping! I mean, it fucking keeps you watching. Some of the episodes where Earl's in prison get a bit shaky at times, but then it just blazes straight ahead at full blast for the last half of the season. The ones where he's in a coma are just fantastic, and the forty-minute double-header "The Camdenites" that closes the season is hands-down the best one this series ever churned out. Triumphant, suspenseful and still hilarious, this is just better than I ever expected this show to get. I think the presence of a more coherent, long-running story is what sells this, along with the more dramatic elements. It's just fantastic; it really is.

As one would imagine, the last season can't quite measure up, but it damn well tries. The first few episodes really didn't seem as good, but it eventually got better, kicking the quality back up to that of the older episodes. I think my favorite episodes here are "Quit Your Snitchin'," which starts out with one of the funnier exchanges between Earl and Randy in the show's history, "Little Bad Voodoo Brother," which is fresh and fun as all get out, "Nature's Game Show," a wild ride full of tornados and mayhem abound, "Reading is a Funda Mental Case," which feels the most like an older Earl episode and "My Name is Alias," which features a hilariously lop-sided take on secret agent movies. "Pinky" is also notable for the token tear-jerker episode, and it does well enough for all that.

But alas, all good things must come to an end sooner or later, as Earl's time had come to be taken off the air. The season sadly ended on a cliffhanger in "Dodge's Dad," which infuriatingly showed potential for a huge new breath of fresh life into the show, if it had continued. I know studios don't do this to harm anyone, but fuck, I wish they had continued it. Damn you, corporate America; damn you and all your wretched ways!

Ahem. Excuse that. Well, My Name is Earl had a good run. I've dragged this review on for a while now, and I still don't think I've really covered everything I could have said about this show, but that will just leave you with more surprises if you do decide to check it out. My Name is Earl is just a bucket load of fun, always interesting, always engaging and always funny. Go check it out.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review: Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdu, Doug Jones

What's in a fairytale? A sense of mysticism, a certain wonder, a desire to create worlds that are beyond our grasp, and beyond the dregs of the depressing reality we live in. In those respects, a film like Pan's Labyrinth is definitely a fairytale. But it's also more than that, as it shows you the other side of the coin, too. It is a film of dual personalities, and both worlds - that of the Spanish revolution in the 1940s and that of the strange, whimsical fantasy world that lies just behind every wall.

The movie, about a young girl who is traveling with her mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless, sadistic army officer, is historically driven, set in fasict Spain after the revolution, where rebels still fight in the mountains to try and regain their freedom. But this is really quite downplayed, not shoved in your face or made so you absolutely have to know the history in order to get into the film. The girl, Ofelia, is an imaginative child, always wandering off and letting her imagination carry her places - much to her mother's chagrin.

But soon enough her mother is bedridden and getting ready to have the general's baby, leaving Ofelia to do as she wishes. Ofelia is quickly sucked into a chasm of surrealist fantasy, where she is told by the keeper of the realm, the Faun, that she is the reincarnation of the king's daughter, and that she needs to perform three tasks to prove that she is worthy of the title. She has to throw small rocks into the mouth of a giant tree-frog in order to obtain a key. She is given chalk to draw her way into the hall of a terrible beast, in which she cannot let her temptation to eat the lovely foods on his table overcome her.

See what I mean? This is the purest essence of fairytales. I love how things like this are fit in between the darker, more mature adult themes of the movie. The careful juxtaposition makes a good statement about real life - the world is harsh and violent, but through the eyes of a child, the best way to cope is by creating realms of fantasy inside their own minds. And in the case of Pan's Labyrinth, the fantasy world seems just as real as the real one.

Guillermo Del Toro is really an ace director, making every scene count and hitting the viewers hard with both his historical doom and gloom and the dark, tempting fantasy scenes. This is a very visual movie, with a lot of subtle special effects that surprise the viewer with their intricacy and detail. Everything looks fantastic, and the acting is great, with Sergi Lopez as Captain Vidal and Doug Jones as the Faun being exceptionally kick ass in their roles.

There are a lot of smaller plot lines going on all the while, like the one involving Mercedes, the servant, and her connection to the rebellion. Several people are killed, and all the while Ofelia's fantasy world runs its lines deep, like contours through mud. It all makes for a very complex, winding trip, and I think this will really be one of those films where you notice new things every time you watch.

As the ending grows near, with the final confrontation between the Faun, Ofelia and Vidal in the labyrinth boiling down to its last notes, everything seems to become clearer. The message of the film, all the dark, twisted all just kind of clicks into place, like the last pieces of a puzzle. The conclusion is uplifting, lending credence to the film's dreamlike, fairytale-esque demeanor. It is magical. Don't believe in fairytales? This movie will make you reconsider.