Del Toro, no stranger to science fiction or tales of the Spanish struggle between Fascism and left wing politics (Blade 2, Hellboy, The Devils Backbone) offers us something different here, skilfully blending history with fantasy. In Second World War fascist Spain Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) is faced with a stark choice. On the one hand she can experience reality in the shape of a dead Republican father, and a dying mother carrying the child of her new sadistic army captain husband. On the other she can escape to an alternative reality of grotesque creatures. The struggle between good and evil forces in the labyrinth is allegory of the political reality above ground.
Special effects and stunning sets are prominent but they don’t overwhelm the film. Baquero and the compelling Lopez (Captain Vidal) deliver powerful performances. The parallel storylines engage to the point where we are sorry to shift between them. The director gives no rational explanation for the labyrinth and we can choose to interpret it as the child’s dreamscape or another world. Nonetheless the visual creation deserves special mention and many of the international awards were given for art direction, costumes, make-up and special effects. The films breath-taking design was influenced by Goya and Arthur Rackham (illustrator of Lewis Carroll s first edition of Alice in Wonderland).
So audacious and so technically accomplished. Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.
In this magical and immensely moving film del Toro presents both the narrative strands as equally real, equally plausible. Philip French, The Observer.
Del Toro’s deep connection to the film touches every frame its a labor of love that marks the finest film of his career to date, and one of the very finest movies of 2006. Pam Grady, Reel.com