Saturday, July 19, 2008

guillermo del toro

Dark Knight is in the theaters, and looks to be a winner. We haven't seen it yet but I'm especially optimistic after the gritty Batman Begins seemed to herald in a re-invention of the movie series. But what about Hellboy II? If you're teetering on the fence about this one, our mutual suggestion is to skip it and wait for video. I admit to having high hopes, since Guillermo del Toro is one of my favorite directors right now. But it was surprisingly slow, the plot was typically clichéd, and the action sequences were humdrum. Stay at home and cozy up with one of the following instead:

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Also directed by del Toro, a much more imaginative and emotionally taxing film. The main character is Ofelia, a little girl living in Spain just after the civil war (1944). Events unfold in a less-than-pleasant reality and a fantasy world that may or may not be the product of Ofelia's escapist imagination. It is a dark fairy tale, as if you were watching a Neil Gaiman nightmare unfold. Del Toro has listed the following authors and artists as sources of inspiration: Lewis Carroll, Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood, Francisco Goya, and Arthur Rackham. Do not be pushed away by the English subtitles. This is an amazing story where the special effects are used for specific purpose and aren't the whole point of the thing (e.g. Hellboy).

The Orphanage (2007)

Produced by del Toro and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona. A remarkable movie, and perhaps the best ghost story I've even seen. I've mentioned before that I am relatively impervious to horror-fear in movies, due to my father's unwitting immersion therapy during childhood. But The Orphanage evoked real fear in me, and perhaps even more impressively, dread. It is a movie that benefits from very little being said about it, except a strong recommendation. Again, please do not shy away from the Spanish language and English subtitles. This is a superb film that, like Pan's Labyrinth, dances across the boundary of the depressingly real and sublime fantastic. It is difficult to know what is "true" and what is not and, as in the best of magical-realism, the distinction is meaningless.

Keep an eye out for del Toro's version of The Hobbit, planned as a duology for release in 2011/2012. It may be the best on-screen Tolkien experience since 1977's animated movie (take that, Peter Jackson).


  1. Ive read this topic for some blogs. But I think this is more informative.

  2. I'm proud of Toro's origins: Tapatío :_)