Crimson Peak

October 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”)
Written by: Guillermo del Toro (“Pacific Rim”) and Matthew Robbins (“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”)

In the opening scene of director Guillermo del Toro’s new film “Crimson Peak,” a ghost of the mother of our main character gives the warning: “Beware of Crimson Peak.” With a dull story, bland horror and clunky imagery, I couldn’t agree more, unscary ghost-lady.

After a young woman named Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is swept off her feet by visiting a Englishman named Thomas (Tom Hiddleston), she decides to follow him to his new home after facing a family tragedy. Accompanied by his mysterious sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), Thomas and Edith arrive and settle into Thomas’ broken down albeit beautiful home. As she spends more time there, however, Edith begins to notice strange things around the house and becomes haunted by ghosts. When she realizes things may not be what they seem, Edith attempts to navigate the truth about what is really happening at Crimson Peak.

Any horror elements, mostly taking place in the form of ghosts, feel like a complete afterthought. None of it is that frightening, but rather a polite haunting that is shoehorned in to spice up a dull romantic story. The romance feels decidedly passionless, as those plotlines are not given nearly enough time to breathe or develop. After a few meetings and some lustful looks, the audience is led to believe that Thomas and Edith are deeply in love, which never feels like the case.

While some plot points and a general sense of unease are pretty obvious early on, the film plays those plot points close to the vest, and takes forever to reveal (barely) what is actually going on. When the film reaches enters it’s Third Act and motives and answers are finally revealed, the movie has taken far too long to get to the point and there’s an air of “Who cares?” that permeates the exposition.

There’s no question the film’s gothic aesthetics are pretty to look at, but once you get past the sheen, there’s nothing worthwhile there. When you throw in some ham-fisted usage of the color red for blood imagery, a lame script of clichéd dialogue, and far too much brooding (I’m looking at you, Chastain), you get a film that lacks in nearly every department. Though the genre of the film may be up for debate, the fact remains that the romantic elements aren’t alluring enough and the horror elements are not chilling enough leaving “Crimson Peak” as a film with much to be desired.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

December 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage
Directed by: Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”)
Written by: Fran Walsh (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), Philippa Boyens (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), Guillermo del Toro (“Pacific Rim”)

When “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” was released in 2003, there was the sense of celebration, a victory lap for the trilogy as a whole capped off by a huge box office haul and Oscars for both the film and for newly-minted A-list director Peter Jackson. Here we were, right in the middle of a collective indifferent, angry shrug reaction to the “Star Wars” prequels, when along came a new fantasy trilogy to sweep us off our feet, selling enough extended edition DVDs to fill up Mount Doom. Fast forward 11 years, though, and Jackson’s own prequel trilogy based on the slim tale of “The Hobbit” has been greeted with a sense of resignation and, personally, relief that the whole thing is finally over.

Picking up where “The Desolation of Smaug” left off, the gold-hoarding dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) is laying waste to Laketown. While others flee, Bard (Luke Evans) manages to fire the shot with the only arrow capable of slaying the dragon. Meanwhile, inside the Lonely Mountain, hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman, essentially wasted in this whole trilogy) and the other dwarves watch helplessly as their king Thorin (Richard Armitage) has caught “dragon sickness” from all of the gold and treasure and his search for the Arkenstone. At the same time, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is being rescued by Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Sauruman (Christopher Lee), and Elrond (Hugo Weaving) as Sauron attacks. Back at the Lonely Mountain, armies of man, elves, orcs, and dwarves begin amassing at the gate, each looking for their share of the dragon’s gold.

Much has been said the last three years about the decision to extend the slight novel into a trilogy of nearly three-hour-long films, but by now the fatigue is real and it begs the question: “What would these movies look like if there were less of them?” The years spent bringing “The Hobbit” to the screen seem to have burned Jackson out. Where the “Rings” trilogy featured Jackson working at the top of his game, combining camera trickery and physical effects with state-of-the-art CGI, these “Hobbit” movies see a director willing to give in to shiny, physics-defying computer-generated effects, robbing the films of the handmade, visceral quality that made their predecessors so effective in the age of George Lucas’ misguided prequel trilogy and all its digital manipulation. Sadly, Jackson seems to be channeling the worst of Lucas here, filling the last film he’ll likely get to make in Middle Earth with grating, groan-worthy comic relief and endless fan service that does little more that connect the dots to the “Rings” trilogy that no one needed spelled out for them anyway. Thankfully the journey is over.

Pacific Rim

July 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy”)
Written by: Travis Beacham (“Clash of the Titans”) and Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”)

You’re here to know if watching giant robots duke it out with colossal monsters using state-of-the-art special effects, leveling city blocks in the process, is as incredibly cool as you hoped it would be, right? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. On that front, “Pacific Rim” delivers and delivers big. From the opening scenes featuring a Kaiju (Japanese for “strange beast,” think Godzilla on steroids) taking out the Golden Gate Bridge to a mid-movie showdown wherein a particularly nasty Kaiju takes a beating from an oil tanker-wielding Jaeger (German for “hunter,” otherwise known as the huge robots humanity built to kick Kaiju butt), director Guillermo del Toro’s big-budget monster movie is pure fun when the massive fists are flying.

“Pacific Rim” opens in the not-too-distant future. The Kaiju attack on the Golden Gate Bridge was just the beginning. More and more monsters rose from the deep, traveling to our world through a trans-dimensional portal known as The Breach. After conventional weapons took far too long to defeat the beasts, humanity shook off all previous conflicts and joined forces to build the Jaegers. Controlled by two pilots mind-melded together in a process called The Drift, the Jaegers successfully beat back the Kaiju…until the Kaiju came back with a vengeance and the Jaegers were declared ineffective and set to be decommissioned in favor of a massive seawall. Under the command of Marshal Pentecost (Idris Elba), the last remaining Jaegers will mount a final offensive against the Kaiju with the fate of the human race hanging in the balance.

While del Toro turns in top-notch action, the story threading it all together tends to feel routine and pieced-together from a bunch of stuff you’ve seen before. Echos of “Avatar” resonate through these scenes, from dead brothers to joining minds to piloting giant, well, avatars, it all seems too familiar. A sense of strangeness seeping through the seams keeps things interesting, though. Characters are named things like Stacker Pentecost, Hercules Hansen, and Hannibal Chau, and the Jaegers sport nonsensical code names like Gipsy Danger and Striker Eureka. Del Toro tosses in little details to build this world that might keep you from glancing at your watch too much when there aren’t any skyscraper-crushing battles onscreen. But when the titans start clashing, “Pacific Rim” is everything a kid who grew up with a steady diet of Godzilla and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would ever want in a film.

The Hobbit

December 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage
Directed by: Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy)
Written by: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) and Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”)

Revisiting fanboy-friendly cinematic properties after an extended absence from theaters is always a tricky proposition. On the financial side, it’s an absolute no-brainer: you’re getting more proven product to sell to an already-existing audience. Huge box office numbers are pretty much guaranteed, not to mention sales of any ancillary products that might go along with it. Creatively, however, these endeavors often fail to live up to incredibly high expectations held by fans. I mean, spend a few minutes looking up what the internet at large thinks about “Prometheus,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” or, God help you, the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

See what I mean? Now you understand what any follow-up to director Peter Jackson’s mega-hit “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy has to deal with. Ever since the final film, “The Return of the King,” ended up raking in all the money and Oscars available back in 2003, audiences have been anxiously awaiting an adaptation of the trilogy’s official prequel, J.R.R. Tolkein’s more kid-friendly novel “The Hobbit.” Legal issues tied up the film rights for years, but the wait is over. Jackson’s first film of a new “Hobbit” trilogy, “An Unexpected Journey,” is finally here, for better or worse.

“An Unexpected Journey” begins 60 years before the events of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), happily puttering around his Hobbit hole,  is approached by wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) and offered the opportunity to enrich his life by embarking on an adventure. Bilbo politely declines, but, undeterred, Gandalf volunteers the Hobbit anyway. Soon, a pack of Dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) arrives at Bilbo’s door demanding food and singing songs. With the help of Gandalf, the Dwarves set out to enlist the reluctant Baggins in their quest to retake their home and treasure from the dragon Smaug.

While none of Peter Jackson’s previous adventures in Middle Earth were known for their brevity, at least those films had three huge books filled with pages and pages of source material to draw from. Not so with “The Hobbit.” Stretching one novel into three epic films is understandably worrisome, and the strain shows from the beginning. Kicking things off with a prologue featuring Ian Holm’s aged Bilbo Baggins writing a letter and Elijah Wood’s Frodo checking the damn mail is an exercise in padding. Plus, the dinner introducing the baker’s dozen of Dwarves is 45 minutes of “get on with it!” Once all of that is out of the way, though, the film slides easily into the groove that turned the “Rings” trilogy into blockbusters. Geared ever-so-slightly to younger audiences, the quest mixes the whimsical, like the goofy wizard with a rabbit-drawn sleigh and a trio of moronic cave trolls, with the terrifying, such as the hook-handed Orc bent on hunting down Thorin or the chilling duel of riddles Bilbo engages in with the pitiful Gollum played by Andy Serkis, once again in top form. By the time the latter scene comes to an end with Bilbo in possession of a familiar golden ring, Jackson’s magic is back in full force. Even the notoriously fickle fanboys should be ready to journey there and back again with the director. Whether he can keep it all going for two more bloated films is the real question.

One technical note: Jackson shot “The Hobbit” in a new format known as HFR, or high frame rate. What it does is double the traditional frame rate of film, 24 frames per second, to 48 frames per second. Select theaters are screening the film in HFR, which is how I saw it, and I can’t recommend this format at all. The difference is stark and distracting to say the least, with a look reminiscent of a cheap soap opera, and ends up unwittingly exposing the fakery of many special effects shots. Avoid HFR.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

August 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison
Written by: Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), Matthew Robbins (“Mimic”)
Directed by: Troy Nixey (debut)

Although children are curious by nature, there are certain things that should frighten even the most precocious of kids. In “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” emotionally-unstable youngster Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison) hears strange and eerie whispering voices calling her name from the vents in her house. The voices beg for escape and invite her to play. Her reaction is to do all she can to let them out, rather than cower in fear. This questionable logic is the first in a series of distracting choices that riddle a horror film that lacks scares and leaves audiences muttering to themselves about the ridiculousness of it all.

Written and produced by well-established director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), “Dark” follows Sally who has relocated from her mother’s house to a house being renovated by her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes). While exploring a hidden basement, Sally finds a furnace occupied by tiny goblin-like creatures that steal sharp objects to attack their victims. They also crave children’s teeth and are sensitive to light. When the lights go out, these menacing and evil monsters whisper and torment Sally, who tries to convince her reluctant father their lives are in danger if they stay in the house.

Looking a little young for the age of the character she is playing, Bailee Madison feels like a slight miscast. Consistent with many of her films in her short-lived career, Madison’s ability to cry on cue is once again exploited. While she is obviously very good at letting the tears flow, there are always far too many scenes of her sobbing. With Madison being the main focus of the film, Holmes and Pearce both turn unmemorable supporting performances as the acceptance-craving Kim and the oblivious Alex.

Ranging from smaller implausible feats such as Sally being able to unscrew a bolt that has been sealed for perhaps hundreds of years to logical leaps that are out of place even in a horror film, “Dark” is full of moments that will leave audiences incredulous. The most annoying occurrence throughout the movie is how nobody in peril can seem to remember to flip a light switch to make the creatures scamper. As they thrash and scream, trying to fend off the fun-size miscreants, the lights only come on when someone barges down a locked door.

At one point in the film, Alex breaks down and admits he has no idea what to do. His mental crisis doesn’t come until after someone in the house is attacked and badly injured, his daughter is mentally and physically tormented, and his girlfriend slowly starts to believe Sally is telling the truth. Maybe leaving the house would be a good starting point?

While debut director Troy Nixey utilizes a few easy jump scares, a true sense of terror and dread is sorely missing. Even worse, the filmmakers strive for an entirely serious tone, which actually results in a few scenes intended to strike horror being ripe for unintentional laughter. Ultimately, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” falls victim to too many horror movie clichés. While much of the movie takes place in the dark, it is no excuse for characters to miss the solutions that are right in front of their faces.

Carlos Cuarón – Rudo y Cursi

May 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Five years passed after screenwriter Carlos Cuarón was nominated for an Academy Award for his 2001 film “Y tu mama tambien” before he began writing his next feature script. The rough idea he had for his movie was about “a soccer player from a humble background.” When he shared some of his thoughts with actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, he didn’t expect their response: they both wanted the part.
 
Instead of making a choice between the actors, Carlos, who is the younger brother of Y tu mama tambien director Alfonso Cuarón, decided to rework his story and write it about two brothers. The film, “Rudo y Cursi,” tells the story of Tato (Bernal) and Beto (Diego), siblings who are recruited onto rival professional soccer teams.

During an interview with me, Cuarón, 42, who along with penning “Rudo y Cursi” makes his directorial feature debut, talked about his personal passion for soccer and whether or not he used his own relationship with his brother to create his main characters.

Did you use your relationship with Alfonso in any part of the script?

The only thing that is sort of the same between Rudo and Cursi and Alfonso and me is that we are all sometimes a bunch of dumbasses. The story is more about my observation of other sibling relationships.

Was there ever any sibling rivalry between you and Alfonso since you both work in the same industry?

I guess there was some sibling rivalry, but the way we work together is more of a partnership. I would write scripts with him of projects that I liked and I would say no to the ones I didn’t like. I didn’t think it was necessary to have to show off my relationship with my brother in this film.

Because of the success of “Y tu mama tambien” back in 2001 do you find it easier or more challenging to write today? Is there more or less pressure?

Well, this script was really difficult for me. It really took a lot of time. I wrote and rewrote for two whole years before I felt it was ready to shoot. This project is different from “Y tu mama tambien” because I was finding the story and the characters as I was writing. In other projects, I know more about the story and the characters before I start writing.

Were you already familiar with the world of soccer before you started to write?

I am a soccer freak. I love soccer, so I knew a lot. But I also did research. I have a few friends that used to play soccer professionally. I would go have lunch with them and talk. I would talk to players and referees. I also went to some soccer training and went to games and to dressing rooms during halftime to see how everything operated.

Did you ever worry about choosing to highlight soccer in this film? I mean, the sport isn’t very popular in the U.S.

Yeah, I was very worried about this, but not only in the states. The truth is all soccer movies that have come out have all flopped. They have been box-office disasters historically. I was worried about that but at the same time I felt like I wasn’t making a sporting movie or a soccer movie. I wanted to make a movie about brotherhood. That is the reason why we don’t see much soccer. Much of it is off camera. There is a reason I didn’t show much of the game. At the end of the day the only thing I really wanted to dramatize on the field was the only thing you can really dramatize in soccer, which is the penalty kick. It’s like a duel; two men facing each other and in front of them is destiny or death.

Is there anything else in the sports world you would say is the equivalent to the drama of the penalty kick?

I think it’s exciting when a pitcher is pitching to a batter with two outs, two strikes, and three balls with the game tied and the bases loaded. I think every sport has their own “penalty kick.”

But not every sport has the type of fans that come out to soccer games. We see a bit of that in the film where a fan can be your best friend if you’re playing well and wants to kill you if you are not. Does it ever surprise you how intense and sometimes dangerous these fans can become?

Yeah, I’m really surprised every time something like that happens especially in Mexico. In Mexico soccer is still a family sport so you go to the stadium with your family. Families can’t go to the games anymore in Brazil or Argentina or other parts of South America because the fans are really violent. I don’t understand it. I think people should understand that soccer is just a game.

Have you ever experienced what Gael’s character Tato is going through in the film where he is passionate about something, but just really isn’t good at it despite his sincere efforts?

Well, I hope not with directing. (Laughs). I have a passion for soccer, but I’m an average player. I know I’m never going to play professionally. I knew that all my life. I never even thought of it when I was a kid.

Do you think someone can truly be happy doing something they’re good at but don’t necessarily like?

No, I don’t think so. I do what I like to do. I understand Tato in that sense. He’s good at soccer but he wants to sing even though he’s a lousy singer. I think you have to be very intelligent and go with your passion but at the same time have enough self-criticism to see your talent is in another place.

Why did you choose Cheap Trick’s song “I Want You to Want Me” to be the film’s theme song and why did you decide to translate it into Spanish?

One day I was driving my kid to school and I was listening to this CD and suddenly the song started to play. I started to sing along with it, but I sang it in Spanish. It’s very stupid and I felt stupid but I discovered that was the song the character needed. Someone that sings, “I want you to want me,” needs attention and has a problem. I knew for the music video I wanted it to be something between a homage and a spoof of the Norteño videos we have in Mexico. To me it was a very basic concept. I hired a choreographer. We shot it against a green screen. People kept asking me what I was going to do with the green screen. I told them I wanted it for kitschy backgrounds.

You touch on the idea of celebrity in the film when Tato becomes famous and starts doing things he wouldn’t normally do. Are there any differences between the idea of celebrity in Mexico and the U.S.?

I think it’s the same, not only in Mexico and the U.S. but worldwide. You are a reporter and I am a filmmaker so if we meet a star it’s normal to us. But normal people get star-struck. I’ve experienced that with Diego and Gael everywhere both in Mexico, the states, in Spain, in South America. I’ve also experienced it with other actors in L.A. like Clive Owen.

What did it mean to you to get your brother and directors Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Babel”) and Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) to step in as producers for your first feature film?

To me it was a privilege to have them produce my movie. What was great is they produced this movie the way they would want to be produce. They gave me complete creative freedom and weren’t demanding. They very rarely went to the set. Alejandro went one day. Guillermo never went because he was shooting “Hellboy 2.” Our communication was mostly through internet and phone calls. These guys are three of the best filmmakers in the world so all of their feedback was always appreciated.

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

July 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro  (“Pan’s Labyrinth”)
Written by: Guillermo del Toro  (“The Devil’s Backbone”)

There’s no denying how imaginative Guillermo del Toro is as a director and screenwriter. Anyone that can create a world as threatening and picturesque as the one in his critically-acclaimed “Pan’s Labyrinth” should be praised for his natural vision.

But as del Toro’s films start reaching a grander scale (like “Blade 2” and now “Hellboy 2”), there is something lost as his fantasies. Although still striking, they seems bloated.

In “Hellboy 2,” the perfectly cast Ron Perlman returns at the red-demon title character alongside his mutant team on a quest to save the planet from the evil Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) and his army of fantastic creatures.

As the special effects run rampant, Perlman keeps the film centered with his unique take on this comic book monster – a spawn of Satan and Nazis who now fights for the welfare of mankind. The mythology is still as interesting as its predecessor, but less important this time around.

When del Toro’s in charge, the film feels richer when it’s an intimate story like “Labyrinth” or “The Devil’s Backbone.” With “Hellboy 2,” it’s a ruckus that has some heart and is all Hollywood.

Guillermo del Toro – Pan’s Labyrinth

June 7, 2007 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

When he is on a movie set, director/screenwriter Guillermo del Toro transports himself to another world. Whether it is a world he has created in his mind during production or one that has evolved over time inside the pages of a diary he scribbles in daily, del Toro’s imagination is always in second gear.

He has done this with all his films, from his first, “Cronos,” in 1993 to his comic book adaptation of “Hellboy” in 2004. Most recently, del Toro delves into the most deepest corners of his thought process to conjure up the film “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Set in Spain, post-Civil War, a little girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) comes to terms with her surroundings by uncovering a mysterious land filled with fairies, fauns and terrible creatures never-before seen by man.

During an interview with me, del Toro talked about where these ideas for his stories come from, Mexican fairy tales and how a film like “Pan’s Labyrinth” could have never been the film it is today without the smaller projects he has worked on.

There is so much imagination in a film like “Pan’s Labyrinth.” As the creator of such a world, where do you start? Creating the characters? The setting?

Everything sort of comes in at the same time. What I do is keep a diary where I write my ideas over the course of years and years. All of a sudden they start to accumulate. Sometimes it’s images, sometimes it’s stories ideas. In this instance what made them come together was the desire to talk about the clash between something magical and something as terrible as the Civil War in Spain or, in this case, the postwar period. That’s what gave birth to this story.

Is this diary something you write in daily or are you the type of person that will wake up in the middle of the night and have to write something you just dreamt about or imagined?

I carry the notebook with me in my bag and I write about anything. I’ll write down a line of dialogue I hear at a restaurant or an idea I have after seeing a painting. For example, when I go to a museum or I go to the movies, I am carrying the notebook around with a pen. If I get any inspiration or see anything I like, I write it down.

I’ve been hearing the phrase “a fairy tale for adults” to describe “Pan’s Labyrinth.” What kind of knowledge do you have on fairy tales and how much of that did you use for this film?

I’ve been collecting fairy since I was a kid. I have a hundred volumes on the classic fairy tales. A lot of were published in the Victorian era, but many of them predate back to the oral tradition. I’ve been an avid compiler of fairy tales all of my life. It’s been one of my main obsessions.

What differences do you see when comparing American and European fairy tales to those that maybe you heard as a child?

What impresses me the most is that both in the European and the Latin American versions of fairy tales, there is far more terrifying elements. There is an overabundance of horrific elements. Whereas in the American versions, once they are incarnated into American books, they are much more cleaned up. The original version, the ones that I heard as a child, are overwhelmingly horrific.

Tell me about the ones that stuck with you?

When I was a child I heard all the classical ones and all the bedtime stories that were told in Mexico. For example, one was about a gambler making a deal with the devil at a crossroad or a man whose death becomes his friend. There are many incarnations of these tales.

In my opinion, you leave it up to each moviegoer to decide for themselves whether or not Ofelia (the young protagonist in “Pan’s Labyrinth”) is imagining everything that is happening or has really found her way into this dark world. Is that what you wanted to do as a screenwriter for “Pan’s” – let everyone make their own choice?

Well, to me everyone will see the movie differently, depending on which side of the fence you are on. I see as many people interpreting it as real as I see as many people interpreting it as part of the girl’s imagination. If you ask me, and I don’t want to be the last word on the subject, that whole world is real. It exists beyond the girl. It is inside of her, but that doesn’t mean that it’s inside her imagination. To me there is a difference between spirituality and imagination.

This is a more intimate story than some of your other bigger blockbusters like “Blade 2” and “Hellboy.” Do you see yourself jumping back and forth between smaller and larger-scale films like this?

I definitely try to. To me it’s impossible to imagine “Pan’s Labyrinth” coming immediately after “Cronos” or “The Devil’s Backbone” because the learning curve is very steep. I learn a lot from doing movies that are very complex technically and then going to what I learn in smaller movies. It’s a process that serves me well.

I’ve liked actor Sergi López since I saw him in “With a Friend Like Harry” where he portrayed another very scary character. Is that one of the films you saw him in where you thought he would be perfect for this dark role?

Actually, I wanted to cast him out of another film, “Dirty Pretty Things,” where he plays this charming guy. I saw him in that one and I though there was something in his work that really had this hard edge. I wrote the character (in “Pan’s Labyrinth”) for him. I went to him even before I wrote the screenplay. It was one of the best experiences – in terms of an actor/director relationship – that I’ve ever had.

As a director, what is the one thing that you have carried on from movie to movie?

The one thing that remains constant is the childlike enthusiasm for monsters. I love monsters and from movie to movie what I love is the creation of places and creatures that don’t exist in real life. I would be bored to tears to make movies that are trying to reproduce a present reality. I like to create something that only, at first, exists in my head.