Visually stunning, conceptually brilliant, and exceedingly watchable, Pan’s Labyrinth is the perfect introduction to the genius of Del Toro. The Mexican director flouts genre norms by casting what is at its core a fantasy film against the backdrop of Spain during the Second World War. The film draws inspiration from the monsters of any classic children’s fairy tale, but tackles them with Del Toro’s signature imagination and fascination for the extraordinary, creating striking characters which benefit from sublime art direction and storytelling.
The two Hellboy films are just simple, unadulterated fun. Based off a popular comic series, Del Toro brings the color and depth of the source material to life in these surprisingly deep films. However, while emotionally present, Hellboy is about the action, the massive guns and the violent monsters, guided through each fight scene with a touch which serves to develop each character. The universe is also unexpectedly complex and well developed, cementing the series’ place as a true cult classic.
Pacific Rim would have floundered as another mediocre action film had it taken itself too seriously, but fortunately, it is extremely aware of what it is, and that is a big-screen depiction of robots fighting dinosaurs. Plots and characters are used well to supplement the action, as the viewer is still engaged with the story without finding annoyance in the emotional explorations of a film that was primarily meant for spectacle.
The Devil’s Backbone:
Del Toro directed this independent gothic horror film in 2001, set during the final year of the Spanish Civil War. Del Toro uses his fond juxtaposition of war and fantastical terror to great effect here, as the audience empathizes with the fear in the mind of a child who can barely come to terms with the chaotic events around him. The film transcends traditional jump horror with elegant commentary on childhood and emotion.
Image Credits; Screen Grab