Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth Pale Man

Most horror films fall apart in the third act. This is an indisputable fact. Think about how good Insidious was up until they point that they showed the goofy Darth Maul wannabe demon. Remember how stupid it was in The Happening when it turned out the trees were killing people? These are not outliers. A lot can hinge on the reveal of the monster (even if it’s not a monster-monster) in a horror movie. If a film can’t deliver on its antagonist, it’s going to end on a ridiculous note instead of a scary one, letting us walk out of the theater laughing in urine-free pants. So here are some monster reveals that aren’t crappy! (But they are spoilerific. Beware.)


Beasts of the Southern Wild Fantasy

Jim Henson has been dead for almost 25 years. Hayao Miyazaki is retiring. And Carl Rinsch may have single-handedly killed all hope for anyone getting a lot of money from Hollywood for an original live-action fantasy film for a while. His 47 Ronin was only partly original, too, since it was based on a historical legend. Still, it was a fresh take on the true story with additions of magical and mythical creatures. The movie wasn’t just a flop; it broke the record for biggest box office bomb of all time (maybe even when accounting for inflation). So don’t expect to see any more epic entries into the genre unless they’re sure things with a built-in audience. Do we need original fantasy films, though? On TV, we have Game of Thrones, which has plenty of imagination in spite of being adapted from the novels of George R.R. Martin, and which is now back on HBO for its fourth season. And there are occasionally great movies sourced from previously written material, as well. For instance, out on home video today there’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of the Smaug, a highly entertaining installment of Peter Jackson’s second (and by most accounts lesser) Tolkien-based trilogy. Occasionally is key, however, as that was one of only three titles on my list of the best sci-fi and fantasy movies of 2013 that didn’t have sci-fi elements.


Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro abides by zero perceived distinctions between high and low culture. Whether working with Hollywood popcorn properties like Blade II or Hellboy, or creating imaginative, dark arthouse fare like The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, del Toro has demonstrated a singular creative vision that stands out against an unimaginative Hollywood. That’s why this weekend’s Pacific Rim, despite being marketed as Transformers 4, promises to be a gloriously geeky respite in a summer of largely unsatisfactory blockbusters. Coupled with the recent news that del Toro might be directing a Charlie Kaufman-scripted adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, there are many reasons to celebrate the fact that the restlessly imaginative man who introduced himself with Cronos bounced from the streamlined Hobbit adaptations. Equal parts Jim Henson, Brothers Quay, and Terry Gilliam, del Toro is a visionary who also happens to be a bankable name. That’s a pretty rare commodity these days. So here’s some free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the guy who we’ve forgiven for making Mimic.



CGI is okay, but there’s really nothing quite like sticking some poor actor in a costume and making them walk around. It’s the foundation of monster films, and something we get to see less and less of these days. Ironically enough, as costumed monsters get sparser with modern techniques, they also became way cooler thanks to those very same advances. Check out some of the most unique ones since 2000 – costumes that remind us why we love monster movies.


Cabin in the Woods

“In a perfect world, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ would be a lock for a Best Original Screenplay nomination.” – Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit It must be frustrating to write for an awards blog (aka an Oscar blog, since the Academy Awards are always the main focus of these sites), and know that the best films of the year are not necessarily the ones that will be nominated. Magidson’s comment above, from his April review of The Cabin in the Woods, sort of sums that up. But at the same time I don’t know if the movie truly deserves the statement. Something to consider, semantically speaking, is that the Academy’s award is not for “Most Original Screenplay” but “Best Original Screenplay.” This isn’t to say that the script, by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, isn’t well-written, and you’re welcome to argue its case for a nomination. Is it the best-written original screenplay of the year, though? All my time as a movie lover and watcher of the Oscars, including the past few years of hate-watching, the original screenplay category is one I’ve constantly been excited about. It’s the place where you could find some of the more clever and creative efforts, including a number of films that might not get other nominations. You could find a good number of interesting foreign films outside of the foreign-language award ghetto (such as Bunuel‘s two nominations for writing), as well as an interesting showing of mainstream and blockbuster fare, especially in the […]


City of God World Cup Brazil Round Three

So far, the representative from Spain has bested the films it has gone up against with relative ease – seeing some of the largest margins of defeat in the entire tournament. In this round, Pan’s Labyrinth goes up against a bit tougher competition in the highly acclaimed City of God from Brazil. Both films are imaginative and desperate as dramas, but they are world’s apart in the final product. The wild black market of Movie World Cup betting (which is still illegal in the US) still favors Pan’s Labyrinth, but as we’re learning with the other matches in Round Three – the competition is now completely up in the air.


Movie World Cup Bracket Round Three

Wow. What a ride. After a full week of heated competition, we’ve been deposited here at the threshold of Round Three. The teams that survive what promises to be a brutal round of competition will be the final four standing, and will be only one more victory away from standing strong in the Championship Round. Many great films have fallen, and what remains includes a meddling French girl, a haunted hero in a cape and cowl, a man who spies on others, an ex-porn star, a young girl working for a witch, a man who would be king, impoverished youths in Brazil, and a girl caught between the horrors of WWII Spain and a giant faun.


Pan's Labyrinth World Cup Round Two Spain

After earning its slot in Round Two by defeating Amor y Frijoles in the first match, Mandrill now finds its super spy in the fight of his life against heavy favorite Pan’s Labyrinth. Spain was favored going in, and then delivered a 95-5 crushing victory against Switzerland. There are more than a few Mandrill fans out there, but will they be enough to see the movie go on to the next round of contests?


Pan's Labyrinth World Cup Spain

Switzerland already upset Spain in the real World Cup, so it could be possible that we’ll see an upset here today in the Movie World Cup as the fan favorites Pan’s Labyrinth goes up against the fantastic storytelling in Vitus. Both great movies, both with strong followings, but of course Guillermo del Toro’s film is far more known on the international stage, especially in the United States. That should give him and his fawn and edge over the young piano prodigy.



So it turns out that Alice in Wonderland isn’t that wonderful. If you need some actual wonder in your life, check out these 12 films and put on a record by the Oneders.



As you may have noticed, the blogosphere is all a-twitter with Best of the Decade lists. To our credit, we here at FSR have published two lists. Now it is time to look at what everyone else is saying…



As part of our epic, two week long Decade in Review, master of the Foreign Objects Rob Hunter lays down his picks of the best foreign language films of the decade.


After campaigning to direct the seventh and final Harry Potter film a couple of months ago, Guillermo Del Toro has begun to further his attempts over on US soil.



MTV caught up with Director Guillermo Del Toro on the set of Hellboy 2: The Golden Army this week and somehow ended up talking about whether or not Del Toro would be down for a run at one of the remaining Harry Potter flicks.

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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