Sunday, September 2, 2018

Not His Masterpiece: The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water PosterI'm behind on the buzz for The Shape of Water - I know, I know. Especially for someone like me who really really loves Guillermo Del Toro and supports all his projects. But I have to say it - I was not that impressed with this piece. It doesn't come close to Pan's Labyrinth, which really is his master work. The mood and the setting were great, the picture was beautiful, as was the creature design, but the plot left a whole lot to be desired.

The premise that a humble female factory worker sympathizes with the Creature from the Black Lagoon (that's what he is, don't kid yourself), and will eventually fall in love with him, set him free, and follow him back into the sea is not really new. (See Splash). It's an interesting alternate-reality for the 1950s, but it does read a bit like Mad Men in its display of chauvinism. The message of otherness throughout the film (the protagonists are a fish-man, a mute woman with dormant scales, a black woman, and a gay man), are necessary, to a degree, and timely, but they're also a bit too transparent for my taste.

Maybe what I wanted from this was a bit more of the Labyrinth. By that, I mean more of the mystery and wonder inherent in such a tale. There's a short bit of dialogue that says the Creature had been worshipped as a god by the humans near its natural habitat. I would have liked to see such things be more developed, to see more of this ancient godhood invading the "present" of the film somehow. That might have hooked me. (lame pun intended).

For now, I have to take solace in the fact that even if this wasn't my favorite Del Torro film, it received high kudos, and that can only mean good things for Del Torro's projects in the future. So please, Del Torro, bring back the dream of At the Mountains of Madness.

Image result for at the mountains of madness
I need this. I need this more than anything else I can think of.

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