User Reviews (185)

  • malcolja1 January 2018
    2/10
    Guillermo Del Toro does "Amelie" meets "Creature from the Black Lagoon"
    Warning: Spoilers
    Diabetics beware, you're in for a saccharine flavoured heap of mush.

    The Shape of Water was directed/created by Guillermo Del Toro best known for creepy and violent films such as Pan's Labyrinth and more mainstream writings such as Hellboy and The Hobbit. For some reason he has had a dose of the lovestrucks and written a film that is basically Amelie meets Creature from the Black Lagoon. There are a couple of questionable violent scenes (torturing a dying man by dragging him around via a bullet wound to the cheek had a touch of the old GDT that we know and love) but the plot literally has no surprises whatsoever. I picked the minor twist about 10 minutes in, and spent the second half of the film waiting for it to be over.

    I am sorry to say the only interesting part was the reveal (not literally) of the sea creature's penis via the main character's description which is frankly hilarious.

    Octavia Spencer does a fantastic job of playing herself (Was this woman born middle aged?) but let's face it we love her anyway. I would love her to be my best friend, she's a hoot.

    Michael Shannon (whom I remember from Take Shelter and Boardwalk Empire) plays a creepy bad guy in a way that makes me never want to have him around for Christmas lunch. Why does he always play someone sexually awkward? I pray we'll never find out.

    I was most disappointed that unlike Pan's Labyrinth and some of the other films GDT has made it's not set in a fantastical different world. It's basically the 1950s cold war era in USA with no real pretense of being anything but. I was hoping for a magical realism, but other than the creature, there's no otherworldliness to it.

    I am a solid romantic, but I found the plot so saccharine that it made me feel nauseous. There is also a sudden musical number that almost had me running for the aisle, and my sister desperate to see my husband's face (He's allergic to musicals generally). Apart from this light relief, I couldn't wait to get out of there.

    I am pretty alone in this opinion, our party was split between 3 people who loved it, and my husband and I who hated it. Maybe if I hadn't seen other GDT films I would have liked it more. My husband also thought the trailer completely misrepresented what he expected from the film. So maybe we were in the wrong movie. But I think romance lovers won't like the art house element, and art house/GDT fans won't like this film. So I think commercially it will be hard to place.
  • bigsmiles-284642 January 2018
    1/10
    So disappointing.
    Warning: Spoilers
    I was taught before criticism that you should first bring up the good points. Good points: Cinematography, good actors, great old movie clips and music, great sets, good costumes, and an extremely promising storyline. Unfortunately, this movie missed, when it really could have, and SHOULD have, hit. I think from now on I'll choose my movies based upon how they're doing at the box office, and not based on reviews. It seems to be a better indicator of what the public REALLY thinks about a film. We're at week 3 and (for such a seemingly magnificent film), The Shape of Water hasn't even broken even. A telling clue. Budget:$19,400,000 (estimated) Opening Weekend USA: $166,564, 3 December 2017, Limited Release Gross USA: $12,140,155, 28 December 2017

    Personally, I found it contrived, unbelievable, and just plain stupid. Where to start? A cookie cutter "Beauty and the Beast" love story with too many holes. I never caught on to the burgeoning romance. Somehow it just fell flat for me. It was already a mediocre movie when they did that ridiculous black & white dance sequence, which was so far out of place, I lost all interest. The music and old film clips were great, but what were they thinking? Were they trying to cash in on some La La Land success? Or was it supposed be some allusion to Cinderella's ball? It would have made more sense as a dream sequence either where Hawkins had dozed off during a flick, or in the bathtub. Ew. Were the masturbation scenes really necessary? I can't see where they drove the plot. Are we supposed to believe a creature like that could or would run into a theatre, leaving a blood trail no less, without being seen by ANYONE? Then he just stands watching a film. (All the while knowing he was in danger from humans and he needed to get to water)? All this, and the projectionist doesn't notice? Where are the film patrons? How'd he get IN without being noticed by anyone? An unlocked door? What would be the purpose of having a box office if you're going to leave an access door unlocked? Are we supposed to believe that the creature, being so sick and weak that he must be released immediately, suddenly has superhuman strength after some strange (and inexplicable) resurrection event following his "death"? And are we supposed to believe that you could pull a full grown man via a bullet hole in his cheek? (You'd rip right through.) Are we supposed to believe that the best friend wouldn't have freaked out about the coitus? In her eyes, wasn't it more an animal. At the very least, one would expect her to broach the subject of pregnancy. How did those two remain standing in the bathroom? The force of the water would have carried them out. If it was pressing that much on the door, the window should have blown. Why didn't Richard Jenkins appear to grieve at all regarding his cat? And why? Oh WHY? Couldn't they just release him directly into the ocean immediately, rather than wait for the locks to fill. I mean the water was RIGHT THERE. They could have made a bath in the back of the van, and just got him to the coast. On and on I could go, but I'm done with my rant.

    Save your money. If you want dumbed down fantasy get the Hallmark channel. At least you know you're getting purely pleasant drivel, instead of wasting your money and being grossly disappointed.
  • rioplaydrum18 December 2017
    3/10
    Bloody Weird
    Warning: Spoilers
    G. Del Toro has been frequently fawned over as a 'masterful story teller'. I found nothing 'masterful' about it. I absolutely could not hook in to this film. It made no logistical sense at all. It also had a dark and cartoonish feel to it like a Bat Man film.

    The setting in which the story takes place is deeply flawed. Eliza (the dumb one), and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) work as cleaning ladies in a so-called top secret facility when there seems to be nothing top-secret about it.

    The cleaning pair wander at will throughout the facility and discover it's also 'top-secret' biological specimen with no clearance at all. Right.

    And low and behold, the biological specimen is none other than the Creature from the Black Lagoon! This time in living color and many upgrades.

    One might also notice Octavia Spencer is appearing in every other bomb out of Hollywood as a supporting actress and nothing more. Maybe in ten years they'll give her one of her own movies. Not holding my breath.

    Back to the Creature. We'll call him Creatch for short. The homely Eliza has a strict routine of hard boiling eggs while she masturbates furiously in her bathtub every morning. Eliza is fundamentally scared to death of normal men. She then brings the food to Creach, which she eventually falls in love with.

    Creach is super duper intelligent and can instantly learn English, American sign language and writing, but likes to savagely dine on the occasional domesticated cat here and there. Right.

    Creach also has super powers. He can almost instantly heal bodily wounds, as well as restore hair to a bald man. Alright, that one small bit I found pretty cool, but that's it.

    Eliza eventually decides to kidnap Creach, for his own good, so she can turn him loose into the ocean just one step ahead of Russian Agents who have infiltrated the facility for the soul purpose of killing him. Again, not a very top-secret organization.

    Shortly after that, Eliza and Creach begin having sex. That's right. An otherwise normal woman gets it on with a humanoid looking fish that looks like it dried out in the oven too long. Happens all the time I guess.

    The two subplots involving a sadistic head of security and an alcoholic neighbor who works as a graphics artist are barely even worth mentioning.

    And the ending? Beyond impossible.

    This story is strictly reserved for the over-emotional, over-romantic, and completely naïve.

    Go see it if you really want to, but you have been warned.
  • mfp-654-19990028 December 2017
    1/10
    2 hours of my life I will never get back.
    Warning: Spoilers
    I really don't understand the hype for this movie. I know del Toro makes some odd movies, but I did like Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage, so I went into this one without reading any reviews or knowing much about it but expecting something decent as a way to spend 2 hours of my life. Wrong! -The dialogue in this movie is just choppy and facetious. The most cringeworthy conversation to me was between Hoyt and the ugly bad dude. Fragmented threats like "I will take you out of this universe" just don't do it for me. Absolutely illogical and nonsensical script. It seems like they said every line in the movie thinking that it was deep and had an impact and was super important... but nothing was really needed for this movie. It could've been filmed without speaking at all and the stupid story still would have come across. -I just didn't feel the relationship/love between the annoyingly mousy lead lady and the fish dude. She got on my damn nerves, really. So she brought the semi-sentient creature some boiled eggs that she made while she fapped in her bathtub (awkward and unnecessary). And meanwhile the entire f*cking building is on camera, but they never see her repeatedly sneaking in his sealed off room to feed him and even play music and dance for him?!?! serious cringe-fest right there. -the black lady Zelda ran her mouth all the time but yet everyone stepped all over her, including the lead (Sally I think? I'm trying hard to forget this stupid movie). Couldn't she ever tell Zelda a simple "thank you" for all the millions of times Zelda stepped up for her, made sure she ate, translated for her, punched her time card for her, lied for her, etc? Not once did Sally show gratitude. It's like Sally is a weird, selfish person that became infatuated with a dude that looks like Thane from Mass Effect 2 (yet Thane was 1,000 times more of a fleshed out character than this "god fish") and everyone just helped the anorexic mouse lady because she "found true love." No one thought this was f*cking weird?? She meets a semi-intelligent FISH in a lab tank and bangs him and has a sick puppy love for him and everyone in the movie acted like that was completely normal. Seriously? In what world is bestiality normal? Just completely idiotic. -Soooo many unnecessary and useless scenes. Who cares about the mean dude (Michael Shannon) not liking noise and furiously banging his weird Stepford Wife missionary style while he covers her mouth and continually tells her to shut up? And when he got his new Cadillac car with the weird salesman and all the useless banter about its color being "teal" not "green?" Or the scene with Sally furiously water-fapping while she makes boiled eggs for the weird fish dude? or where M Shannon pees in front of the 2 ladies without holding his d*ck? I could go on and on forever and rip this movie to shreds, but I'm already annoyed and tired from writing all this. This movie was completely and utterly stupid, and I wish I could have my time and money back. Fail, del Toro. Big stupid fail. Ugh.
  • Movie Watcher22 December 2017
    3/10
    The Sad Shape of Moviemaking
    Warning: Spoilers
    While the basic premise of this King Kong-ish plot, the lead acting (with the exception of the stereotypical and WAY overplayed villain), and the recreation of the 60's time period are all somewhat worthy (three stars worth), there are many oddly-forced and clunky scenes all of which impede the storytelling flow and represent a serious distraction: Gratuitous gore (rotting fingers, headless kitty), homosexual innuendo, masturbation, a bathroom that will hold 7 feet of water by simply closing the door and putting a towel under it, inter-species love at first sight sexual attraction and off-screen consummation, and a Saturday-Night-Live-like song and dance skit (?), among several others.

    Even with the love-conquers-all 'happy ending' and a beautifully depicted submerged in water embrace final scene,' overall it doesn't digest well.

    P.S. The shill-like adoration of just the titles alone (!) of most of the 10/10 user ratings for this film are absurdly hilarious, their effusively giddy text even more so.
  • bastille-852-7315475 December 2017
    8/10
    A Delightful Fairy Tale From Del Toro
    Guillermo del Toro is back with this visually stunning and thoroughly entertaining adult fairy tale. While this movie does not quite live up to some of his previous films (i.e. "Pan's Labyrinth,") it is still a great film in its own right. When one begins to watch the film, the first thing that the viewer will notice is the luscious and stunning visuals. These aesthetic qualities are all the more superb and stunning when one takes a moment to realize that they were done with practical effects rather than CGI. As usual, the visionary style del Toro takes to envision his creature and sets is incredibly impressive. Alexandre Desplat's score, with its simplistic, unpretentious and almost low-key charm, is also thoroughly riveting.

    The plot, which centers on a janitor's relationship with a creature kept in a research lab during the Cold War era in Baltimore, is entertaining throughout. The film is paced well, and never drags or feels tedious. The acting on display in the film is good as well, with a solid performance from Sally Hawkins in the lead role, a show-stealing supporting performance by Octavia Spencer, and a darkly powerful turn by Michael Shannon as a supervisor who serves as the film's sadistic villain. It is also important to note how the film is enhanced by its use of classic filmmaking tropes, which are managed well as to feel original rather than clichéd or too old-fashioned. They give the film a unique layer of depth to it that helps work hand-in-hand with its stylish aesthetic and unique mix of charm and darker themes. The only criticism I have of this film is the fact that there is a lack of individualization or characterization of film's supporting characters; these characters seem solely memorable based on a single personality trait. Otherwise, this is a skillfully made fantasy film and one that I would recommend very much. 8.5/10
  • damian-fuller24 December 2017
    9/10
    Real love under unreal circumstances.
    To communicate or not to communicate. Sometimes is just out of fear that we don't come close to the ones who can give us exactly what we need. They're different, let's stay away. Sally Hawkins in a magical but beautifully real performance invites us to try, to dare. Guillermo del Toro takes us through the paces with extraordinary delicacy and clarity of vision. Thank you.
  • adamk-214 October 2017
    2/10
    Disappointing Twaddle
    Warning: Spoilers
    This has absolutely so much going for it - beautifully filmed, with a magnificent, sweeping score and a stunning performance from Sally Hawkins - but crashes and burns in sentiment, cliché and cartoon supporting acts. It comes across, ultimately, as a cack-handed mash up of "E.T.", "Splash" and "The Creature From the Black Lagoon", as an aquatic man is captured and brought into a secret military American laboratory in the 1960s at the height of the cold war, and Sally Hawkins' mute cleaner develops a bond with it and, ultimately, falls in love.

    Sounds interesting, doesn't it? It certainly has potential, but if the sassy black friend, constantly yammering on about her feckless husband (Octavia Spencer, surely tiring of this kind of role) doesn't get you, or the inefficient gay neighbour/best friend (Richard Jenkins - not his finest two hours) or Michael Shannon's cartoonish, 2D villain, then stay tuned for the ghastly black-and-white fantasy dance number, in which Hawkins and the creature cavort on an elaborate set like Astaire and Rogers. It truly is a ghastly mis-step, jaw-droppingly stupid. The film never really recovered for me, and it lumbered to its predictable climax and ending with numbing melodramatics and sentiment.
  • Turfseer1 January 2018
    3/10
    Liberal do-gooders save amphibian humanoid from stereotyped right-wing martinets in this vastly overrated tale set in Cold War era
    Warning: Spoilers
    The Shape of Water is noted director Guillermo del Toro's vastly overrated attempt to link mythic fantasy to the Cold War era. The problem with the film is its absurd premise: there's a secret government facility in Baltimore which houses an amphibian humanoid captured earlier in the Amazon by bad guy Colonel Richard Strickland (a cartoon, right wing martinet adventurer) played by an over the top Michael Shannon.

    Even if one accepts the premise (which I of course do not), you would think that security would be tight at the facility to ensure no unauthorized persons have access to the creature. Quite conveniently, however, the film's protagonist, the mute cleaning lady, Elisa (who communicates via sign language), is permitted to perform her cleaning duties inside the room where the newly minted "creature from the black lagoon" is imprisoned and easily ends up bonding with him (or it-which ever appellation you prefer!).

    Elisa soon hatches a plan to save the creature from the dastardly clutches of Strickland, and Strickland's sponsor, another vile right wing martinet, General Frank Hoyt. Of course the more than noble Elisa is joined by friends and confederates, all again quite conveniently joined at the hip by distinct, commonly held LIBERAL convictions.

    These associates include Elisa's best friend Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer in the familiar role as African-American "help" (will she ever be cast as the "bad guy" in any future films?), Giles, Elisa's neighbor, an artist and closeted gay, and a sympathetic scientist Dr. Robert Hoffstetler, who is actually a Soviet spy (note that Hoffstetler's superiors, are very much Strickland's counterparts, as they also evince a most unpleasant demeanor).

    Elisa somehow ends up ferreting the creature out of the facility after she learns of Strickland's deadline to vivisect it, allegedly for scientific purposes. Back at her apartment, she keeps the creature alive in a tub filled with salt water. Once the river is at full tide, the plan is to remove the creature from the apartment and bring it to safety, in the watery refuge.

    Meanwhile, the creature's dark side becomes slightly manifest when it attempts to take a bite out of a house cat (animal lovers do not despair: the creature is unsuccessful in significantly injuring the little kitty!). Giles is more than happy after it becomes apparent the creature has healing powers, touching Giles on his bald pate, and inducing some hair growth. And Elisa experiences pure bliss after discovering that the creature's genitalia is actually hidden and with a little coaxing, can actually engage in sexual intercourse (the act actually takes place in Elisa's bathroom, now completely flooded to the ceiling).

    Strickland, about to be fired by General Hoyt following the creature's disappearance, remains frustrated by not being able to find the lost amphibian (you would have thought that maybe he could have figured it out earlier that Elisa was the number one suspect).

    Strickland finally finds out from Zelda's terrified husband after unmercifully browbeating him, that Elisa is indeed the culprit who has sprung the creature from Strickland's deadly lair.

    No need to describe the rest of the plot in detail. Suffice it to say, there is a confrontation with Strickland who shoots both our heroes, only to meet his own demise at the hands of the creature, who miraculously recovers from Strickland's bullet to the gut.

    Elisa also revives (despite her wounds) and joins the creature in a blissful embrace underwater. How is this accomplished? Well, it seems Del Toro has kept his clues about Elisa's true nature from us all along. She's also some kind of long lost creature, and the wounds on the side of her neck, are actually gills-so she experiences some kind of re-awakening, again most conveniently while embracing her new found "king."

    I actually have a friend who sees the denouement as some kind of Gnostic allegory. Of course anyone can read into this narrative, anything they want. But the fantasy element certainly seems way out of place with this Cold War tale which also has problems of its own, with its rather cheap triumph of liberal do-goodism over stereotypical right-wing demagoguery.
  • Claudio Carvalho14 January 2018
    9/10
    Romantic Dark Fantasy
    In Baltimore, in the early 60´s, the lonely and mute Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is the janitor of a secret government laboratory where she works in the night-shift with her friend Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer). She lives in an old apartment above a movie-theater and she usually watches television with her other friend, her next-door neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), who is a gay artist. When a creature captured in a South-American river and brought to the laboratory, Elisa feels curiosity and learns that he is an Amphibian Man (Doug Jones). She secretly feds him every night with egg and listens to music in his room, and they become close to each other. However the security agent Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) is bitten by the creature and loses two fingers. He meets General Hoyt (Nick Searcy) and convinces him to eliminate the creature. When Elisa discovers, she decides to rescue the Amphibian Man and release him in the sea. The scientist Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), who is a Russian agent, decides to help her.

    "The Shape of Water" is a romantic dark fantasy film by Guillermo del Toro with a beautiful and bizarre love story. Elisa is a sort of the Beauty and the Amphibious Man would be the Beast in this mature film. The cinematography is amazing in an environment of the early 60´s in Baltimore. The performances are top-notch and the soundtrack is top-notch. "The Shape of Water" was awarded with the Golden Lion in the Venice Festival and many awards in the Golden Globe. It was also considered one of the top ten movies of 2017 by the American Film Institute. My vote is nine.

    Title (Brazil): "A Forma da Água" ("The Shape of the Water")
  • atabac0131 December 2017
    3/10
    Could have been a good movie.
    Guillermo del Toro is an excellent filmmaker. The premises of this movie are commendable but the implementation is plain horrible. We all have been told that our society is extremely divided today and if one of the sides wins then the end of the world will come. But I wonder since when has it become a crime to have different opinions? The main premise behind the movie is that it is okay to be different and I am sure we all agree with that. The problem is that according to the movie if one differs from the "different" than it is a crime. The world is simply black and white and there is nothing in the middle. The bad guys are racist, sadistic, and homophobic. The good guys are emotional, creative, and acceptable.
  • ecastrodesign11 November 2017
    10/10
    Guillermo Del Toro's Best Film So Far !
    Guillermo Del Toro's newest film "The Shape of Water" took my breath away. Easily this is Del Toro's finest film since "Pan's Labyrinth" and may even be his best in general. This is a film where Del Toro weaves magic throughout with a story he created which is simple, yet layered with such interesting facets embedded in each character, set, and prop as he allows the audience to discover this intimate and fascinating world of "broken" people searching for a moment of meaning. Captivating from its opening scenes with haunting visual imagery, and a lyrical score by Alexandre Desplat, one is immediately enthralled by this fairy tale that is not your usual saccharine variety that Disney cranks out.

    Del Toro knows how to tell a story with wit, style and heart. Assembling a cast headed by the incandescent Sally Hawkins in the role of Eliza who is mute throughout the film, but exudes such humanity and strength along with the villainous Michael Shannon who provides a great balance. Every single actor sparkles because every character has been developed with great care. Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer shine in their roles bringing a touch of quirkiness and humor to this sometimes dark story.

    The film is achingly nostalgic with glorious production design by Paul D. Austerberry evoking the Baltimore of 1962 full of fascinating textures of faded glory, especially in the magnificent design of Eliza's apartment and hallways. Exquisite camera work by Dan Laustsen and beautifully designed costumes by Luis Sequiera contribute greatly to complete Guillermo Del Toro's vision.

    This film is really the ultimate version of "Beauty and The Beast" with a touch of "ET", capped off with a very emotional investment, that pays off for the audience in its poetic and lyrical final scene.

    Certainly one of the finest films of 2017.
  • Harvey Penson13 October 2017
    10/10
    Del Toro's new moving, thrilling romantic fantasy
    If I was to tell you about Guillermo Del Toro's new film what would I say.

    As the father of dark fantasy, Guillermo Del Toro knows how to bring alive the illusive wonderlands and nightmares we can relish and transform them into wonderful poignant crafts of insight and meaning, and The Shape of Water is no exception. With its journey from Venice to Toronto, The Shape of Water has now hit the London Film Festival, now within reach of this exuberant critic. I had only the budget to see one film at this year's festival and I most certainly made a wise decision.

    During the Cold War conflict of the 60s, a mute but hearing Eliza (Sally Hawkins) works as a cleaner at a secret government facility, where she becomes drawn to the new specimen: a mysterious marine creature (Doug Jones). While Eliza begins to fall in love with it, the facility head Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), only desires to take the creature apart for experimental advantage against the Russians. Eliza's bond with the creature soon begins to effect those around her: her neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins), work college Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and scientist Robert Hoffsteder (Michael Stuhbarg) What is amazing profound about Del Toro's latest work is its eccentric visualisation in reflection of the political and social conceptions of the past , but also today. The most centralised end is the the treatment of those who are different. Directly dealing with the fantasy of other species but intertwined with racial treatment relevant to the time in which the film is set, and then of course against the back drop of the national conflicts, but then also the value of those with deficiencies, as portrayed by Sally Hawkins.

    More distant from his darker tones in, Pan's Labyrinth, and Crimson Peak, but not far from the surreal fantasy, The Shape of Water becomes more grounded than previous Del Toro films, and diversely more lighter and funnier. With frequent laughs and jokes on screen, the romantic fantasy is a much light hearted watch, of course not without its moment of bloody violence but at a lower volume. What may be hard for some audiences to get their head around, is this idea of an inter-species relations and with the astonishing design of the creature itself becomes something more than just a fish costume. The bond and sexuality of this romance is a significant thread to the film and is one that featured heavily with its repetitive moments of adult content. But what Del Toro explores its is real beauty in love and within the context of the film it does becomes something remarkable.

    Sally Hawkins is exceptional in her vigorous performance as the mute Eliza, with dynamic sign language and spirited facial expressions, we see the isolated heart of the "princess without voice" which makes her connection to this solitary creature all the more real. Opposite her is the confident physical actor Doug Jones, manning the rubber suit of the creature in a brilliant bodily performance, outdoing his previous collaborative performances with Del Toro. Then Michael Shannon sensationally brings the real monster to the tale in Strickland, the dominating Colonel facing his battle in masculinity as well as with the creature. Shannon gives one of the best performances of his career, keeping with that classic fairy tale juxtaposition of man being the real monster.

    As with all Del Toro's dark fantasies, it all becomes about the characters. Eliza reaching out to another like herself. Strickland trying to maintain his power and masculinity in his skirmish with the creature and Eliza. Hoffsetider being caught between to sides but seeking his own right, and Giles trying to find his significance back in society.

    As never fails with a Del Toro films is the signature production design that brings to life these magnificent worlds. The Shape of Water although is not full Del Tory fairy tale land, does have a very extraordinary construct of the real world, from Eliza's apartment to the secret facility, echoing the true Gothic universe of the real world. Opening in a momentous title sequence, Del Toro literally floods the screen in ravishing visual effects and segments. Only more so combined with the inescapable talents of cinematographer: Dan Laustsen, swiftly moving from one room to the next in a mythical immersive experience alluring us furthermore into the depths of the story and art work of the film.

    The Shape of Water is a wonderfully weird, quirky, heart-warming, extraordinary piece of cinema. For fans who have found Del Toro's previous works too dark or scary, will be delighted by this much more charming fantasy.
  • lyngianna24 December 2017
    2/10
    Duck, Magnum, Duck!
    Warning: Spoilers
    If the heroine could speak, she may only muster a "Duck, Magnum, Duck" - with her weak, scared, and fragile feminine character written by someone clearly unaware of how powerful women actually are. I spent 1/2 of this movie incredibly agitated at how scared and weak Zelda is. Scared to do this, scared to do that. It was exhausting. I partially blame actor Sally Hawking - didn't she have a voice and an opportunity to say "look. I starved myself for this character. I look underweight and malnourished and just am so sheepish and frightened all the time. Any woman who has been thru abuse like Zelda had would theoretically come back strong and eat a sandwich." But no, she took the role and caved in to the ridiculousness. She couldn't have been more than 80 lbs in this movie, and gladly bared all, bones and all."

    I walked out. 2 stars for creative effort. Time to grow up, Hollywood. Real women eat sandwiches.
  • adamorestes14 October 2017
    10/10
    Tolerance for All Colors, Creeds, Species and Moviegoers Alike
    Every now and then a work of cinema arrives in theaters that completely challenges one's conception of what a film can be. A groundbreaking technical and thematic masterpiece, Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro accomplishes something that on paper seems impossible; what is essentially a comedic Cold War body horror musical romance between a mute woman and a mermaid. Not only does the modern master of movie monsters blend such an eclectic variety of genres into a single storyline, but he also does so without any sense of convolution or confusion, exhibiting a technical mastery that allows the film to seamlessly flow between its fantastical elements and social realism as well as stand as a work of art on its own. What Del Toro's latest film offers is not merely a stylistic spectacle, but also a thoughtful meditation on the nature of love and its ultimate lack of boundaries.

    Before directing my appraisals towards the film's exceptional ensemble performances, thematic resonance and technical ingenuity, I feel it necessary to discuss what's on the surface. The film's production design is, simply put, outstanding. Set within the cultural bubble of early 1960s Baltimore, you can tell del Toro feels a genuine love for the aesthetic of the era, between the beauty of the grandiose operatic cinema to the humorously polite manner in which the characters converse with one another. This is contrasted by the grim color palette of the facility that Eliza (Sally Hawkins) and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) work in, a white male-dominated hierarchy in which minorities are abused like slaves. Even outside of the facility, del Toro never shies away from the darkness behind this maintained superficial beauty. Racism, sexism and homophobia are ever present as shop owners reject minorities to preserve their all-white family aesthetic and Col. Strickland (Michael Shannon) exerts his dominance over the wife of his nuclear family in a truly sickening way. However, unlike most period pieces, there is no protest or fight for change. The superficial world remains solid through every horrible injustice committed, for these characters live in the 60s, where there is an understanding (or at least a belief) that things won't change. The characters accept these injustices for it's all they can do, strengthening and almost excusing the central interspecies love story so that it resonates all the more deeply.

    From a technical perspective, the film truly mimics the element of its title. It's camera-work floats towards and around its characters while its transitions flow into one another like water. Del Toro maintains such a rhythmic pace via his use of editing, usually cutting on sound to craft a film that is as auditory as it is visual. The film's ensemble of is just as stunning. Against the backdrop of the 1960s del Toro's protagonists consist of different social outcasts, placing the authoritative white male in the role of an antagonist who takes full advantage of his societal superiority complex. Octavia Spencer as Zelda (Eliza's black co-worker) and Richard Jenkins as Giles (Eliza's gay neighbor) provide much of the film's comedic relief through their simultaneous embodiment and subversion of the era's stereotypes. While one could argue that their roles of the closeted gay confidante and the black maid are cliché, both characters display a strong awareness for their prejudiced status, with both resolving to disobey the conventions society has imposed on them; a decision that sets them apart from most portrayals of 1960s minorities. Michael Shannon offers another compelling performance as an abusive sociopath, and some of his actions (such as the aforementioned scene with his wife) impressively disgust in a world in which audiences are so desensitized to violence and on-screen abuse.

    Supporting characters aside, the standout of this film is without question Sally Hawkins, whose performance as a mute woman forces upon her the unique challenge of making an audience empathize with her in spite of a lack of speech. She does this through her playfulness; her love of art, particularly music and musicals, the way she tap dances her way to work when no one is watching, and palpable emotions that require no voice to express. Her sign language offers one of the film's most spectacular visuals, and del Toro knows this, choosing to place the subtitles as close to her hands as possible so as not to detract too much attention.

    Though more attention could have been diverted to Doug Jones as the Asset, and the creature's general quirky mannerisms, it is the scenes that he shares with Eliza that are the film's most tender. Throughout Eliza's interactions with her two friends (Zelda and Giles), while it's established that the two characters care about her deeply, we get the sense that her muteness is being taken advantage of, as both endlessly vent their personal struggles and anxieties to her with no one to cut them off. Such is the reason for Eliza's infatuation with the Asset, itself a speechless creature that doesn't see Eliza as incomplete in the slightest. When the two finally bring their relationship to the next level, like the supporting cast, we the audience have no problem accepting it. Both employ wildly different means of communication; Eliza's an organized series of gestures whereas the Asset's are primal and animalistic. However, when the two finally bring their relationship to the next level, like the supporting cast, we the audience have no problem accepting it.

    The Shape of Water is hardly a fantasy. Ultimately, it's a film about tolerance. An allegory for all of history's outcasts that attempts to shine a light on the conditions from which real monsters are born. Like it's moral message of acceptance, del Toro extends this inclusion to his audience, accepting fans of all genres, offering something truly enjoyable for every kind of moviegoer. The Shape of Water is an extremely confident mesh of comedy, romance, horror, drama and musicals, with enough technical wizardry to impress any cinephile.
  • Lala Hoohoo4 January 2018
    5/10
    Nope - Sorry
    Warning: Spoilers
    It was a sweet story and the compassion and love was beautiful until the inter-species sex scene. It's not out of being prudish or anything but everyone has a 'line' and mine would be sex between a woman and the creature from the black lagoon.

    I found the dialogue tediously boring, too. "Every...sentence...seemed to be something...that...had many...unnecessary...words...that...made it take...a very...long ...time to get...the point across."

    I really wanted to love this movie, I will say that I 'liked' it but human and alien getting jiggy with it just blows any sort of 'sweetness' of this love story.
  • cgrinna7 January 2018
    1/10
    Unbelievable Fairy tale
    Warning: Spoilers
    Movie started off well, but suddenly an unbelievable storyline appeared. At times it was laughable. If Del Toro had went through the storyline, and ended it as a dream fantasy, and not reality, it would have had legs. Could have been much better.
  • cdcrb1 December 2017
    1/10
    love conquers all
    Warning: Spoilers
    creature from the black lagoon meets mute woman. unfortunately, I must join the 10% who did not like this film. I am a big del toro fan, but this left a very unpleasant taste in my mouth. especially in the present climate of sexual harassment, racism and general hate. the acting is wonderful and in this fantasy world there is more than a touch of reality. it may be fine for critics looking to bestow awards, but as a rabid movie goer I don't always need real.
  • beanofdoom9 January 2018
    4/10
    Wow, what a mess!
    Warning: Spoilers
    Take E.T., mash it up with the aesthetic sentiments of Amelie, throw in a dash of The Artist, top it all off with some amazingly open-minded attitudes toward bestiality and you have The shape of Water.

    Elisa Esposito is a cleaner at a government facility where top secret projects are kept. Her life is pretty hum-drum until one day she meets a creature from the deep at work and gives him an egg. She instantly falls in love with the beastie and talks her bestie Giles, an aging artist with relationship problems of his own, into helping her mount a rescue. Along the way she receives initially reluctant assistance from her workmate, Zelda, as well as the help of a kind-hearted Soviet spy named Dimitri.

    Visually, the movie is quite nice, the soundtrack was also very well chosen, but as a story the film seemed not to be able to make up its mind exactly what it wanted to be. The romance was rushed and never really felt believable, the best friend neighbor was only likeable sometimes, it seemed to want to make some sort of a social statement about male culture in the 60s, but this was only given, at best a superficial treatment; it kept toying with the idea of becoming a musical right up until it sort of did in a number that seemed as out-of-place, awkward and forced as the romance between Esposito and the creature from the deep.

    All in all I'd say that this would be one of those films to watch with friends some night for a laugh, but don't expect much more than unintended comedy, as it's otherwise an utter mess.
  • janenefreitag30 December 2017
    3/10
    Was expecting so much more!
    Based on what had been said in some of the reviews and after having seen an interview with Octavia Spencer, I was anxious to see it. I will say there were so many opportunities for this to be a great movie, but when you have a villain with no redeeming qualities he's just mean. I enjoy a good sex scene as much as the next person, but I couldn't wait for our villain to finish with his wife fast enough. I wish I had waited to see it on tv with all the disturbing parts cut out.
  • Richard Burin11 October 2017
    Wow
    Guillermo del Toro's wonderful fable – "my favourite thing I've ever done" – is kind of like Arrival starring Amélie, as a shy, mute cleaner (Sally Hawkins) at a government base begins to communicate with the aquaman in the tank, and feels the first flickerings of love.

    Set – like my last film at the LFF, On Chesil Beach – in 1962, it's really about today: a plea for tolerance in the light of Trump and co's war on Muslims, blacks and gays, and a monster movie in which the monster isn't the Other, it's right-wing, gung-ho America, represented here by Michael Shannon, as a psychotic vet in a teal Cadillac who'll beat the living crap out of anything that doesn't conform to his very specific notion of a person. The toxic machismo and vicious hatred of otherness isn't restricted to him, though, it's endemic: and hiding behind the most benign of fronts.

    Shot in a rich, stylised palette of greens and browns (admittedly more City of Lost Children), set partly above an old, working cinema and filled with little visual effects – though with a creature who's delightfully and resolutely real – it reminded me of nothing as much as Amélie. That 2001 movie might be the last time I felt quite so charmed by a lead character as by Hawkins' Eliza Esposito, whose increasingly appealing, steely, sexy performance recalls that holy trinity of great mute turns: Dorothy McGuire in The Spiral Staircase, Samantha Morton in Sweet and Lowdown and Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda, and is just as full of nobility and pathos; just as lacking in gimmickry.

    There's nice work too from Richard Jenkins, who is frequently held hostage in underwhelming comedies, but showed in Tom McCarthy's 2007 masterpiece, The Visitor that he's just about the best actor in America when he can be bothered. As Eliza's gay flatmate, a struggling, alcoholic advertising artist, he's never self-pitying or trite, and those traits no more define who he is than the fact he's bald.

    The plot is fine: diverting, involving and well-balanced between moments of intrigue, suspense and humour, but it's the passages of poetry that completely bewitched me, including one sequence in a waterlogged bathroom that took the breath away.

    There's another beguiling flight of fancy that memorably references Fred and Ginger's 'Let's Face the Music and Dance', and music is critical to this film: Hawkins and Jenkins engage in an impromptu tap, Alexandre Desplat equips her with the most enchanting theme, and del Toro exhibits his great love for – and understanding of – classic Hollywood by including several clips from old Fox musicals, including Bojangles and Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel and colour clips of Alice Faye and Carmen Miranda rendered in the monochrome of '60s tube TV. Realising that I was in a cinema in which a modern audience was being forced to watch old footage of Alice Faye, and listen to a short monologue discoursing on her ill- fated Hollywood career was just the most delightful thing.

    So… a sci-fi, a horror, a monster movie, a romance, a Cold War thriller, and a history lesson about Alice Faye: this genre-bender is many things, but above all it's an emotional experience, a clear- sighted, glowing-hearted picture with some of the most beautiful imagery and a performance I'm going to be rhapsodising about for weeks, months, years.
  • proustlisa11 September 2017
    Moving, Beautiful, Flawless Story
    Just watched it at TIFF and as much as I knew it would be beautiful, nothing prepared me to be so very moved by the story, the way it was told and the delicate details that make of this the most beautiful, moving story I have ever watched.

    Of course I cried more than once, and over 2 hours after leaving the movie theater (the same where the movie was actually filmed in Toronto), my heart is still heavy in an uplifting and hopeful way.

    There aren't any words to describe this gorgeous piece of art... as usual.. the effects, the creatures, the colors and most importantly, the words of the narrator (just like in Pan's) move you to no end...
  • fatref35025 December 2017
    5/10
    Hands Labyrinth
    Warning: Spoilers
    Okay, first, the good stuff:

    The sets (which deserve an Oscar) and the cinematography were eye-poppingly-amazing. Desplat's score was moving and beautiful. Richard Jenkins stole every scene he was in - as always.

    Now, the bad stuff:

    Sally Hawkins masturbating in the bath every single morning while the eggs are boiling (hence the title of this review) added nothing to the story. Michael Shannon buying a new car added nothing to the story. The Astaire-Rogers, song-n-dance, black-n-white dream sequence completely ruined any magic that had been established. Look, I know this is a fantasy, but, fish sex, really? Not only that, she went to work and played kiss-n-tell, describing the fish dick to Octavia Spencer (who, sadly, has become typecast.) The writing was just weak. Every character was a cliched, cardboard cutout. The love story read like a bad Harlequin Romance paperback meets The Creature from the Black Lagoon meets Splash meets Mr. Limpet.

    Overall, I would say, if you are a serious filmophile, see this for the eye candy. That's all there really is to this fantasy. If you are a lonely, looking-for-Mr. Right, 40-something dreamer, this could possibly be your favorite movie of all time.
  • nanobot-90-27238329 December 2017
    2/10
    Not as advertised. Not original at all.
    Advised as "From master story teller, Guillermo del Toro" yet every possible liberal stereotype and emo string pulling. Totally predictable.
  • statuskuo16 December 2017
    5/10
    The Shape Of Fish Guy's Schvantz
    Warning: Spoilers
    Really Del Toro? This constitute a love story? This movie is designed for shut-in crazy cat ladies who dream of banging inanimate objects...for life. Then the Pinocchio comes to life. Though beautiful in its art design, why does everything in this world look like a terrible sound stage? It's not magical, mystical or captivating. It's gross and awkward and mean. People brought their children to this movie. And saw 1) middle aged chesticles 2) Michael Shannon humping his wife brutally. It was so awkward and not the least bit "romantic." Can anyone explain how a top secret facility with a Fishman can still allow a woman to have lunch and play Glenn Miller records in the company of?! What nonsense is this? Oh right, it's a fable. Or something. Wait, how does Michael Shannon tell biblical stories in a fable. Wow is that meta. This movie is just awkward. You stumble out of the theater just flabbergasted at what passes as romance these days. This mute chick will do it with anything.
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