“Pan’s Labyrinth” represents as fully realized and uncompromised a director’s vision as audiences will see all year, boasting a parallel wonderland original enough to make Tim Burton or Terry Gilliam nervous. A career fantasist, Guillermo del Toro has clearly been working up to this. Pic reps an artful synthesis of virtually all the Mexican-born, Catholic-raised helmer’s idiosyncrasies and obsessions: magical insects, alternate realities, Freudian overtones, precocious child-heroes and pure, unadulterated evil. It also returns del Toro to the arena of the Spanish Civil War, which he previously explored in “The Devil’s Backbone.”
Grimmer than any fairy tale, this macabre adventure pits his young heroine against all manner of twisted-original creatures — a faun with carved-wood features, a faceless monster with eyes in the palms of his hands — and erupts with moments of shocking violence. Horror helmers traditionally get no love from the Academy, but del Toro’s singular imagination could win out.