After the critical breakthrough of Pan's Labyrinth, Del Toro was on full fire with this film.
Director Guillermo Del Toro and comics creator Mike Mignola hit peak synthesis here, with an original story outside the graphic novels that piledrives headlong into Fantasy past the gothic Pulp. Both are at full creative power in a film that stuns with its ambition, fluidity, and visuals. The characters radiate personal depth and team cohesion with a new vigor. The most deft move is frontloading Liz Sherman this time as a potent partner instead of a damaged muse.
Like Mignola's arresting art, the movie is a feast to the senses, rewarding the eye, mind, and heart. It is a veritable How-To of the perfect graphix film, for fans, suits, and film students: true to the source, inspired to new heights, enthralling to the audience.
(Readers can do no wrong reading Mignola's series of graphic novels, including recent years with typically fine art by Duncan Fegredo.)