All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
THIS WEEK: The great Guillermo Del Toro (HELLBOY) offers a unique personal re-imagining of the classic CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON as a Cold War love story. A mute cleaning woman (Sally “GODZILLA/PADDINGTON” Hawkins ) who lives with an aging illustrator (Richard Jenkins) working at a secret lab in 1962 befriends a secret government “asset” Gill-Man (Doug “Abe Sapien” Jones). Throw in a psycho hardass security chief (Michael “General Zod” Shannon), a Soviet spy ring and a friendly co-worker (Octavia Spencer), and things get interesting and intense. And weird!
(Yes, I know THE SHAPE OF WATER premiered late last year but it just got to my theater this week so I’m reviewing it as it’s in major release.)
Written by Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. Directed by Del Toro.
- What you expect from a Del Toro flick: it’s visually gorgeous! Colors, shapes, sets, background stuff, you name it, it’s a peeper feast to say the least. The whole water theme is present throughout, too, but not in a take-you-out-of-the-film way.
- Special FX are freakin’ amazin’. Better yet, it’s nearly impossible to tell the diff between the practical effects (makeup) and CG on the creature. Even the way he blinks his eyes, like a fish, was a brilliant touch.
- Ending is fairly satisfying. (The trailers didn’t ruin it!) The main villain gets it good and there’s no cliff hanger (though there are plenty unresolved issues for the next film of course).
- Superb casting and acting. Shannon’s bad guy is truly hate-able but just short of a cartoon villain (he’s a family guy of the time, just amped to the Nth degree with some wacko thrown in). Hawkins’ Elisa is a perfect mix of innocent, loving, sexy, smart, scared, deep, sweet and resourceful. Michael Stuhlbarg is a spot-on scientist-with-a-secret. Top character actor Jenkins is a great mix of melancholy and humor. Spencer is an ideal heart-of-gold co-worker and stronger-than-she-knows friend. And Jones is his usual “body language genius.”
- Excellent set design and retro-stuff to transport you back to ’62. The cars alone are worthy of their own trailer–’57 Chevy, ’62 Pontiac, ’62 Galaxies, and an entire showroom of brand new ’62 Caddys! The clothes, signage, TVs and such are all Oscar-worthy.
- Nudes, nudes, nudes! Yer pal Bru finally gets a decent “Butts & Boobs to Bullets & Blood” ratio. The early scene of Elisa getting in the bathtub and diddling should be on a loop. Throw in a second T&A look and a surprising pull-out-the-boob by a friendly spouse and I’m a happy horndog.
- Really good story. The relationship and plot builds naturally, it’s easy to follow and things mostly make sense. Humor, requited and unrequited love, social-times stuff, racism, sexism, homophobia, Cold War tension, science fiction, suspense and a satisfying ending with great “they get theirs” moments, and you have a rare sci-fi Oscar nom.
- (FROM CRAIG: That gorgeous James Jean poster! Read all about it here.)
- Pretty violent so, along with the nekkidness, it’s a solid R. No kiddies, pleez. Those who like cats, beware.
- I do not ever, EVER, need to see some middle-aged dude’s naked butt while bangin’ away, unless it’s part of a porno full o’ chicks. Can’t unsee that. And it didn’t help the story any.
- The couple’s bathroom scene, while beautiful and funny, didn’t make a whole lot of sense. What exactly was the plan to dispose of all that H20 afterwards?
- Interspecies sex is not recommended.
- A couple of those stupid “let’s stand around staring in awe or in love when we really should be moving just so other stuff can happen” moments that are in too many movies and TV shows lately.
- A wacky dream sequence that’s either funny/sweet or silly/stupid, depending on yer taste.
- The reason for a character’s scars is pretty lame. I’m no doc, but even I know it doesn’t make sense.
- (FROM MIKE: I didn’t see any illustrator listed in the credits. I’d love to know who did the gorgeous ad paintings as well as b/w creature drawings. Guy “Vertigo” Davis was listed as one of two Concept Artists, but if he did them, he should have had an additional credit because that’s not what the Concept Artist does.)
I usually don’t dig anything the Academy Awards likes because it’s too pretentious or depressing, but this isn’t either of those. While not a classic monster flick in the Universal vein, I’ll take this over Tom Cruise’s MUMMY reboot any day. THE SHAPE OF WATER delivers just enough sci-fi with the romance to appeal to most geeks and non-geeks alike. Provided you can handle the small amounts of gore and sex scenes, this is absolutely worth seeing on the big screen.
P.S.: Get your commission request in quick for a lovely monster or hot babe or both for Valentine’s Day and beyond, for your favorite person (or yourself). Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are not those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, The US government, the former Soviet Union, Universal monsters, Cadillac or the Cleaning Lady Union Of New York. If Bru-Hed were in a Universal monster flick, he might be either Frankenbru or the Creature From The Bru Lagoon. (He would also be in the ’80s teen romance flick, The Bru Lagoon, if he could be marooned on an island with Sophia Vegara. Or pretty much any other halfway attractive female that could tolerate him.)