Thursday, December 28, 2017
The Shape of Water Review
I want to give a warning before I go any further. I'm going to talk about this movie. I'm not going to spoil what happens. But I'm going to talk about the premise. Given that I knew practically nothing about the movie going in, if you want to also know very little about the movie, feel free to exit this review and go see it. Just take a quick peak at the content to see if it's one that you'll actually approve of. And if you need more than just my personal recommendation, it has an 8.2 on IMDb, a 93 percent critics score and a 84 percent audience score, and has been nominated for pretty much every major awards ceremony thus far. So in general people are enjoying this film. If you want to dive into a little more depth and you don't mind me giving away what this movie is actually about, then proceed. The very basic premise of this movie centers around this strange, mythical creature that the government and/or military has captured and are doing tests on. One of the janitors is a mute girl played by Sally Hawkins who discovers the creature almost by accident and develops an attachment to it. When she learns that these military people are treating the creature in a very horrible way, she devises a plan to help the creature, thus we get a refreshingly unique journey.
All of these arcs come together beautiful in what is truly an acting showcase. That there is definitely the best part of this film. All the previously mentioned actors give worthy enough performances to be nominated in the acting categories. Sally Hawkins is the lead in the movie and the definite standout. She did a phenomenal job of portraying this complex, troubled individual without saying a word. She signed her way through most of the movie when she had to communicate. Rather aggressively in some sequences. But the best moments were when she was by herself or with the creature and had to express everything required of her through body language. I bought it. It was one of the most emotional performances of the year. Next up I would actually say is Michael Shannon. I think he had a lot of fun playing the main antagonist of the film. The scenes with him in it were rather menacing and intense. But then he would spend time with his wife and kids, showing a completely different side of him. The others all gave solid supporting roles. Richard Jenkins is getting most of the buzz outside Sally Hawkins and I'm fine with that, but I also enjoyed the performances of Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg. Even Doug Jones as the creature was great.
I mentioned earlier that the movie felt refreshingly unique as I was watching. When the movie finished and I was leaving the theater, I began to think of what other movies this reminded me of. This is where we get into semi-spoilers because this needs to be mentioned. The movie that I first thought of was "Beauty and the Beast." Because, yeah, this is a romance film. Between Sally Hawkins and this creature. It's sweet and romantic, yet a bit weird. With "Beauty and the Beast," the romance is pure and innocent in both the animated and the live action as to not cross over into awkward territory. Plus Beast is really a human transformed into a beast, so it's not that weird. But the creature in "The Shape of Water" is not a human. Not really anyways. He's more like an alien from space with human like qualities. But still not human. I personally think the movie could've been just as effective if Sally Hawkins established a connection with the creature like one does with a pet or another stray animal. I didn't need the romantic relationship between her and the creature, especially not when it got a little more awkward than was necessary. I mean, it fit in the way that both were lost in the world and couldn't speak, but it was a bit much.
I suppose one could say that this movie is a disappointing one if you walk in expecting it to be the brilliant masterpiece that have caused many critics to knight it as the best movie of the year. But that's not how I approach these Oscar films. It's unfair to expect any movie to be a perfect masterpiece and it's certainly unfair to come down on it so harshly if it doesn't live up to those expectations. I go into these movies expecting a good, solid movie. If I come away with a masterpiece, then so much the better. If I come away with simply a good movie, I'm satisfied with that, too. "The Shape of Water" is a good movie. It's a solid character piece with deep themes that will resonate with a lot of people. I don't know if I completely loved the romance and I think there were a few moments where Guillermo del Toro could've held back a bit more, but I also didn't walk out completely appalled or angry. This movie is going to get a lot of Oscar nominations and it certainly deserves it, especially when it comes to the visual effects regarding this creature. The Oscars have seemed a bit hesitant to accept motion capture, which I think is frustrating and I'm sure Andy Serkis feels the same way. But it's whatever. If you like Guillermo, give this a watch. I'll give "The Shape of Water" an 8/10.