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DVD Pick of the Week: Pan’s Labyrinth

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Looking over the list of releases for this week, I cannot say that I see a lot of titles that I am all that interested in. However, despite the lack of quantity, there are a couple of titles that are of the highest of quality that I am very much looking forward to adding to my collection. There was the consideration of declaring this week a tie, but those thoughts left rather quickly as the eventual winner stepped up to the plate and took charge.

The title that survived the Thunderdome-style, two DVDs enter, one DVD leaves battle is Guillermo del Toro's masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth. The film took home four Oscars at the recent awards ceremony, and deserved each one of them, though I still think it should have won for best foreign language film. It also had the honor of placing number two on my best of 2006 list, right on the heels of Children of Men.

Pan's Labyrinth is a dark fairy tale that pulls no punches in its depiction of real world violence and the dangers of the fantasy world. Both of these worlds threaten the well-being of our young heroine, Ofelia. It is Ofelia's story, set during the fascist Franco regime of Spain in the 1940s. She is threatened by her stepfather, the commander of a garrison of troops who are wiping out the resistance, so she has created this world where she may be a long lost princess who must pass a series of dangerous quests to regain her throne.

It is an absolutely beautiful tale, visually striking, wonderfully acted, and touching in its execution. It is a movie that fires on all cylinders. It is not the type of fairy tale you are used to as it does not shy away from graphic depiction of violence, though it never feels gratuitous. This is definitely a movie that demands to be seen.

The two-disk special edition includes a video prologue by Guillermo Del Toro, commentary by director Guillermo Del Toro, and lots of features (The Power of Myth, The Faun and the Fairies, The Color and The Shape, The Charlie Rose Show featuring director Guillermo Del Toro, The Director's Notebook, production sketches, storyboard video prologue by Guillermo del Toro, storyboard/thumbnail compares, theatrical teaser and trailer, TV spots). There is also a single disk release which features a commentary by Guillermo del Toro.

Also out this week (not representative of all releases):

  • The Fountain. This was the other film in the battle for the weekly pick. This was a film that I admired more than I liked it, though it demands multiple viewings to soak in all that Darren Aronofsky was doing. It is beautiful to look at.
  • American Dad: Volume 2. From the team that brought us Family Guy comes this second set of goofy episodes. It is fun, but not at the same level as their first show.
  • Arthur and the Invisibles. Luc Besson's attempt at a family friendly tale falls flat with characters that are flat and a tale that never really takes off.
  • The Dead Girl. I do not know much about this film, but the idea sounds interesting. It is the story of a murdered girl and her mystery unfolds from different perspectives, each giving us a piece of the puzzle.
  • Creepshow III. The third entry in the Stephen King-spawned series, and I have not heard a good thing about it. I wonder what the impetus was to bring the name back?
  • The Siege: Matial Law Edition. Thinking back, this film seemed to be ahead of its time considering the state of the world today, with its terrorist theme and mass holding cells for those of Middle Eastern descent.

So, what's on your agenda?

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