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Pan’s Labyrinth

Luciano Vargas

By the film’s name, you’d be forgiven for assuming it was a benign children’s fantasy, but you’d only be half right. What begins as an innocent and magical fairytale becomes perhaps the most cleverly scathing indictment on dictatorial rule since Isabel Ayende’s novel ‘The House of The Spirits’, which panned Pinochet’s Chilean dictatorship. Director Guillermo Del Toro takes us to General Franco’s 1950s Spain where a young girl is travelling to meet her new stepfather, a high ranking Spanish officer in charge of a rural garrison. She soon discovers that her new father has no experience or patience with children and, seeking companionship, she befriends a magical creature, Pan, perhaps creating an alternate universe in order to deal with her now clearly evil stepfather. Del Toro forces the magical and the horrifically real to collide in what is easily the most moving and visually sumptuous film of the year.

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Ocean's 13

Matthew Freemantle

Danny Ocean and the lads return to America, presumably with their tail between their legs after a dreary sequel set in Europe. Sadly, all the eye candy and snappy scripting can't save Ocean's 13, which fails to motivate its story and plays out all too predictably. Bar the odd scene, 13 is only just better than number two, which is to say that it didn't make this reviewer want to hurl. At least there was that.

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Shrek The Third

Garth Breytenbach

The big green guy returns with all the regular cohorts, just in time to compete with a bevy of winter blockbusters. Far Far Away is in dire straits - the ailing frog king is on his deathbed and a suitable heir to the throne is desperately needed. Much to his dismay, the next in line is none other than a reluctant Shrek, who would like nothing better than the comfort and simplicity of his muddy swamp. So Shrek sets off on a journey with Puss and Donkey to find Fiona`s cousin, Artie (Justin Timberlake), the only other possible heir. Of course, things aren’t as easy as Shrek would hope; Artie is the school nerd and hardly a king in the making. To make matters worse, a disgruntled Prince Charming, having taken a job in a B-grade theatre, decides to recruit all the fairytale villains in an attempt to overthrow the kingdom and reclaim his throne. Throughout this chaos, the hapless foursome loses its way and meets a retired wizard who helps them return to the palace with expected complications. At the kingdom, the coup is in full swing and Shrek is taken hostage, which, added to the impending threat of fatherhood, takes him and the boys on the ride of a lifetime. Despite the threat of a tiring franchise, then film still manages to keep the gags fresh and provides enough quality laugh-out-loud moments, provided more often than not by Eddie Murphy’s donkey and Antonio Banderas’s cat.



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