(This review was originally written for BUBBS back in 2006.)
After reading an enthusiastic review of Pan's Labyrinth that ranked it "up there with his two other masterpieces, The Devil's Backbone and Cronos," I found a copy of the former at Blockbuster. And what do you know, it is indeed very good. Del Toro just nails everything that should be nailed. Great cast (the kids are really good), good direction (maintains several themes without disrupting the overall mood), good use of special effects (the kind you mostly don't notice), great cinematography. And, of course, some very striking and imaginative imagery (the bomb in the courtyard, the fetuses in the jars, Santi's ghostly wound and haunting ground).
Next up is Cronos, and then (hopefully) Pan's Labyrinth. I can't believe I'd only seen Blade II and Hellboy and liked del Toro; Devil's Backbone is a much finer film that demonstrates deeper talent.