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The Shape of WaterWhat’s it all about?

At a top-secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

Why did I want to see it?

I have been an admirer of Guillermo del Toro since seeing Cronos in the early 1990s, and I am a sucker for a grown-up fairy-tale with horror overtones so this was a no-brainer.

What did I think about it?

I loved this film so hard, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Images pop into my head without warning and I am very keen to see it again (hoping that a Film Club outing can be arranged but I’ve already flagged the DVD release just in case). I think the reason it works so well is how fully rounded all of the characters are, from Eliza’s morning routine which shows her as a woman with needs and desires to Strickland and his anger and extreme views. One of the triumphs of the film, I think, is how Strickland as the villain is given a background and a personality that explains but doesn’t excuse his behaviour; his fear and hatred of the other in the shape of the Amphibian Man.

Sally Hawkins is amazing as Eliza, defiant and open-hearted and compassionate, and Octavia Spencer is a delight as Zelda, with her awful husband and her chattering away and her handling of the racism she has to face every day.

The setting of the film is also beautiful, otherworldly images of the apartments above the cinema where Eliza and Giles live underpinned by a colour palette that evokes the underwater. And water is absolutely everywhere; it always seems to be raining.

Others have mentioned the resemblance of the Amphibian man to the Creature from the Black Lagoon and I suppose you could see this as a kind of “what happens next”, and others have mentioned Beauty and the Beast, though I don’t really see that myself . It should be mentioned that Doug Jones does a wonderful job (as he always does) in bringing the creature to life.

I was very glad that it won best picture and best director. It’s about time that del Toro was recognised and although Pan’s Labyrinth is still his masterpiece in my opinion, the Shape of Water certainly ranks alongside it.

If you haven’t seen this please do seek it out!

Dazzling details: directed by Guillermo del Toro, this is 123 mins long and rated 15 for strong violence, language, sex, nudity

 

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MV5BMTUwMzI5ODEwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjAzNjI2MDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_What’s it all about?

A team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore an uncharted island in the Pacific. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong. As their mission becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden.

Why did I want to see it?

Hiddles meets giant ape. Duh.

What did I think about it?

I had a good time watching Kong: Skull Island, which is exactly what you would expect from a giant ape vs humans film set at the end of the Vietnam War and starring at least two very good-looking human beings. As you can see from the poster above, there is a definite Apocalypse Now vibe to the setting and marketing, and when Samuel L Jackson goes off the rails seeking vengeance it is very much like a war film, albeit one with, you know, giant ape, assorted enormous beasties and the underground weird skull-headed nasties. And of course the stranded WW2 veteran who provides the necessary exposition to establish that Kong is not the bad guy here, people.

So the body count is high, Kong is enormous, the photography is great, the effects are very cool, the story is moderately silly but the characters are pretty sketchy and the script doesn’t give the great cast (Hiddles, Brie Larson, John Goodman, SJL) that much to deal with, other than John C Reilly who looks like he’s having a whale of a time.

But it is good fun and although I wouldn’t deliberately seek it out to watch again, I can very easily see myself being sucked in if I was watching it on TV. I’ll be very interesting to see how this fits into the wider giant monster world that will include Godzilla.

 

ku-xlargeWhat’s it all about?

The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

You don’t really need details of the actual plot, surely this is enough?

Oh, OK then.

So we start off in Japan with Bryan Cranston (for it is he and aren’t we glad?), wife Juliette Binoche and little boy. All employed at local nuclear power plant (except for small boy obvs) where apparent natural disaster occurs, stuff destroyed, wife dead, terrible upsets. Leap to present day, wee boy all grown up into Aaron Taylor-Johnstone, soldier type, has to go to Japan to get Bryan, who is now total and utter conspiracy theory nut job, out of trouble, cue modern-day repeat of original disaster as nasty beasties escape. Cue Godzilla to the rescue (though it takes everyone a bit to work out that’s what’s actually going on). Result =mayhem, extreme damage (Golden Gate bridge gets it again) and a body count off the scale.

Why did I want to see it?

Did you actually read what I said above? Why wouldn’t anyone want to see this? 🙂

Please do not refer to the 1998 version, that’s just unhelpful.

What did I think of it?

I just loved this, got caught up in the whole thing, very satisfying mega-giant-monster-things knocking all sorts of crap out of each other, it was very very cool.

Yes, if you wanted to quibble then there was insufficient Bryan Cranston (at least compared to what the trailer suggested) but his role is key and he is brilliant whenever he’s on screen.

And yes, you could argue that Aaron T-J’s character was a bit of a cypher who was just there to give us POVs of the action once it all hits the US, though I think that’s unfair, he was perfectly fine.

And yes, if you were being really, really, really picky then you could argue that we could have done with more actual Godzilla, but I thought that he was well-used, teased nicely throughout the film and enormously (pun intended) effective when we got to see him doing his thing. And he was genuinely enormous, which is only right and proper. And the nasties were really very nasty indeed.

And there was Ken Watanabe and David Strathairn to add gravitas.

And it all just goes to prove that although you may be a conspiracy theory nut job that doesn’t mean they aren’t really hiding something.

It was a wonderful film to look at, creature design excellent and some of the set pieces (especially the one everyone mentions, the army guys parachuting out of the clouds with flares etc.) were really remarkable.

I liked Gareth Edwards previous film Monsters very much indeed and was very pleased to see him tackle a big big movie so well. And thrilled to see that there is going to be a sequel.

Fabulous stuff and straight onto my To Buy list.

What can I say? I love this film. I’m not entirely sure how many times I’ve watched bits of it while surfing through the satellite movie channels but every time I come across it, no matter how far into the film it is, I have to watch it until the end. So when I had a spare Sunday afternoon to myself, I decided to sit down and have a proper revisit to try and work out why it has become one of my favourites.

And I’m still not entirely sure, but have decided I don’t care.

I like the handheld style which works if you can accept the carry on filming premise. I like the characters, I like the fact that the authorities really don’t know what they’re dealing with and it shows, I like the fact that none of the characters are too important to die and I love, love, love the monster itself, particularly the idea that it might only be a baby.

And I really like the fact that the film simply doesn’t outstay its welcome.

There’s the whole “would someone really keep filming while going through all that stuff?” question which I reckon I may be too old to relate to but having been at a rock concert this week and been slightly distracted by someone making a phone call while the band were still on stage, and the number of people clearly tweeting and posting to Facebook, the answer is almost certainly “yes, they would keep on filming”.

I will definitely keep re-watching this, my favourite monster movie.