I saw Pan's Labyrinth for the second time last night. Before we put it on, I commented that I didn't think it was a very good movie. Immediately, I got slammed with all 10 people in the room telling me what a great movie it was. The phrases "artistic masterpiece" and "best movie ever" were actually used.
Having seen it again, I repeat my impression of the movie: a shrug and and "ehh." I didn't hate it. I just didn't particularly like it. To me, it didn't mean anything. A lot of stuff happened, but why? For what purpose? What should I take away from this movie?
Everyone asked how I could like Lord of the Rings and not like Pan's Labyrinth. Because The Lord of the Rings means something. It shows human virtue in the face of evil. At its best (and the movie messes up Faramir when it doesn't understand this point), it shows that seizing ultimate power (the Ring) eats you up and spits you out. It shows a Christian understanding of stewardship over nature (why do you think the Ents join the good guys instead of joining Saruman?) And ultimately it comes to a satisfying conclusion. Bad guys get their comeuppance, good guys get their just desserts. The old, whose time is passing, are escorted off to Paradise.
Pan's Labyrinth couldn't muster any of this. Instead, it ends in a pile of corpses. How should I feel about this display of special effects movie blood? I shrug and I'll have forgotten the movie tomorrow.