While the movie Pan's Labyrinth has some artistic merits, there are both obvious and subtle reasons to avoid it. Some of the obvious ones:
1. It is very violent. The protagonist's stepfather does things like beating one person's face in with a bottle, and torturing another until he begs for death.
2. The characters professing Christianity are all monsters and hypocrites.
3. The good guys are all creatures out of pagan mythology and their friends.
The less obvious reason Pan's Labyrinth troubled me took a while to figure out, but I think I finally have it. Many of the people who liked this movie said they saw many Christian elements in it. For example, the heroine sacrifices herself rather than permit the sacrifice of an innocent baby, and is rewarded with life after death. This is a good thing, no?
Well, what the protagonist does is good, but the context makes the message all wrong. Essentially, what we have here is yet another attempt to say that the good stuff about Christianity can be had without Christ. This is the great theme that runs through most bogus modern spiritual substitutes for Christianity, including atheism. It should be easier for us to spot by now. After all, John Henry Newman pointed out over a century ago that the problem with atheistic humanism is that it thinks it can have the fruits of Christianity without the roots.
In Newman's time, it was humanists claiming they could have Christian morality without Christ. Now, it's pagans claiming, in fiction anyway, that they can have the whole enchilada -- redemption and eternal life -- without the redeemer and giver of life. The sad thing is, after decades of cultural decay, this ridiculous claim seems plausible to many, at least on an emotional level. And it is on an emotional and imaginative level that this movie will do its harm, by associating Christianity with sadism and death, and paganism with "truly Christian" nobility and eternal life.
I would recommend this movie only to mature and astute Christians whom it may help by training them to discern elsewhere what I think is a particularly insidious and currently widespread tactic of the enemy of mankind -- the fictional portrayal of Christianity as unchristian, and of paganism and atheism as truly "christian." Once you learn to recognize it, you will see it frequently.
Hmmmmm. I just found an interview with Guillermo del Toro, the director of Pan's Labyrinth, at http://twitchfilm.net/archives/008507.html It looks like my surmises above about what he was trying to do were right on the money. It was not even subconscious, as it is with some. He apparently knew exactly what he was doing.