Movie Review: The Shape of Water

This week I planned to see 12 Strong, the story of the Green Berets who fought Taliban on horseback. However, I wanted to see it with my dad, so it will have to wait. In the meantime, here is why you should skip Pacific Rim Uprising in March.

While on the night shift at a government facility Elisa, played by Sally Hawkins, encounters a humanoid fish monster imprisoned in a lab. Overtime she grows fond of the creature and decides to break him out when his dissection seems imminent.

Guillermo Del Toro remains one of the few contemporary directors that cares about the art of cinema. His shooting style, use of practical effects, and scene composition has remained consistent since is semi-debut with Blade 2. He understands better than anyone the catharsis of spectacle. Not in terms of tableaus or eye-candy, but artistic appeal. Take any scene in one of his movies and you could put it in a frame.

Del Toro has an extreme attention to detail he captures in each movie. He shoots clearly with enough lighting to pick up all the little touches in sets and effects. It is not everyday you find physical sets that are so complex and rich and Del Toro knows how to show them off. Elisa’s apartment alone is packed to the gills (no pun intended) with detail. Even the plain concrete environments are beautifully bleak and weathered. It might seem ridiculous to imagine, but the kind of craftsmanship in his sets used to be the norm for a lot of films back in the day.

On the subject of craftsmanship, the creature effects need no introduction. It is so well done and acted by veteran Doug Jones that you just need to see it. Imagine the Abe Sapien from Hellboy, but as a full body costume. That is the fish monster.

When it comes to the performances everyone brings their A-game. Hawkins gives an exceptional physical performance with no lines of audible dialog. You can infer what she is feeling based on body language and the manner in which she signs. Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, and Michael Stuhlbarg are all great, but Michael Shannon owns the movie. Even when I put aside my bias, the man is just fantastic. His time as Strickland is his most incredible performance to date. It almost makes the entire film. I do not care for the Oscars, but he deserves a win for Best Supporting.

I should not even have to recommend this, let alone explain my reasoning. It is a new Guillermo Del Toro movie, with fantastic practical effects, and Michael Shannon is completely out of his mind amazing. Go see Shape of Water immediately.

(Muh book: http://a.co/gR6nlr7)

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