The Shape of Water

Viewed – 07 July 2018  Online rental

I’ve been really looking forward to this.  Having been a long time admirer of visionary director Guillermo Del Toro since his fantastically ingenious debut ‘Cronos‘, we come to this, the Oscar winning movie that finally after so many years, recognised Del Toro for the master that he is. Telling the story of Elise, a young mute woman working as a cleaner at a military base during Cold War era 60’s America … we discover that a new ‘asset’ has come to the base for further experimentation and investigation by a team of scientists headed by Michael Shannon’s unhinged Government Agent.  Said asset is a amphibious humanoid creature who Elise forms a unique bond with that gradually turns into love.

The Shape of Water

A gothic romance, a dark fantasy … hallmarks of what Del Toro does best and this takes some of the most interesting aspects of his earlier work and weaves them together into probably the best thing he’s done since Hellboy 2.  The performances are first rate, with a scenery chewing Michael Shannon, although no stretch for an actor used to playing intense characters, on brilliant form.  Also the often underrated Doug Jones who has appeared in several of the director’s works always underneath a wealth of prosthetics is mesmerising as the creature.  Yet it’s the breakout turn from relative unknown stage actress Sally Hawkins that impresses most, bringing incredible depth and emotion to a character who can not speak.

The romance at the centre of the story did feel a little rushed however, with Elise too easily attracted to a creature-from-the-black-lagoon looking monster, although her urge to help it was more understandable.  Also how the movie doesn’t exactly treat the creature as anything all that unusual considering it’s like nothing anyone had ever seen up until that point, is puzzling.  Of course it would be remiss of me not to mention Del Toro’s direction and eye for darkly beautiful imagery; macabre and at times weirdly erotic.  A true master of his art whose movies always look stunning – this is no exception as the set design, the slightly exaggerated 60’s Americana and the often cartoonish characters all create a tone and atmosphere uniquely his own and it’s a real joy.  Del Toro has put together a movie that is both heart-breaking and touching yet thrilling, funny and magical.  Although not quite up to the standard of Pan’s Labyrinth for me due to an undeveloped villain who’s motives are unclear and a little too much mystery to the creature … this was still a captivating watch from beginning to end.

Verdict:  4 /5

Del Toro walks from The Hobbit!

This is bad news.  Arguably the most anticipated movie(s) of 2011 / 2012 J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the earlier book from the same world visited in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, was going to be produced by ‘rings director Peter Jackson and helmed by Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth genius Guilermo Del Toro.  This was something that COULD NOT FAIL.

Well after legal ramblings over the rights with MGM and delay after delay to start shooting, it seems Del Toro has signed off the project.  Sad sad times!!  Now unless Peter Jackson himself takes over – this whole project could be dead in the water.  EPIC FAIL!

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Viewed – 20 August 2008  Cinema

My god I have been so looking forward to this.  As probably the biggest fan of Guilermo Del Toro that I personally know (which is not saying much) and having adored Pan’s Labyrinth, Blade 2 and especially Hellboy – this was just begging to be seen. 

When a mythical world starts a rebellion with the human world, threatening to destroy all mankind, it’s up to Hellboy and his band of misfits to stop crazed Elf Prince Nuada from raising the infamous Golden Army.  This full-on sequel to Del Toro’s stylish and very different comic book blockbuster throws in love stories, the desire to be excepted, crazy demonic creatures, tons of highly stylised action and plenty of dry humour – everything the first film was, turned up to eleven!

Ron Perlman’s Big Red of course steals the show and is on fine wise cracking, iconic form and is probably the most likable screen hero I think I’ve ever had the joy to watch…add to this the brilliant turns by a very much expanded Liz Sherman (a magnetic and sexy Selma Blair) as well as the excellent Abe Sapian (Doug Jones) whose given his own love story this time around, and this unlikely bunch of heroes make for a more comppelling cast than anything you will find in the X-Men movies.  Also this time the team are joined by a Russian scientist who is basically a heap of gas in a special suit, voiced by Family Guy’s Seth McFarlane with superb, laugh-out-loud results.  Did I also say this film is really funny?  There’s some priceless moments of slapstick and dry humour – but thankfully the movie also knows when to get serious with some eye-melting action and stunning fight choreography, made all the better by superb production design and state of the art creature effects.

Now apart from an opening explanation of the history of the Golden Army – little light is shed on the evil Prince’s desire to cause such chaos and why he chooses this moment in time to kick off, but that’s small potato’s, especially when the villain is played so well by Luke Goss mirroring his exceptional turn in Del Toro’s Blade 2.  There is also so much going on here it would be a terrible disservice to point out plot holes – and believe me you will be having way to much fun to analyse.  So sit back and enjoy the best movie so far this year.

Verdict:  5 /5