Posts Tagged ‘movies’

I usually agree with the Oscars’ choices for Best Picture.  Sure, there are some absurdities (The ArtistDriving Miss DaisyShakespeare in Love?) and some ridiculous snubs (how many people today think Ordinary People was better than both Raging Bull and The Elephant Man?  I didn’t think so.)  But this year was particularly strange to me: at least 4 of the nominated movies (Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards) were way, way better than the Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water.  And I don’t think of this as a case of splitting hairs, of deciding a winner among a field of equally strong contenders.

I actually think The Shape of Water was a bad movie.  As in, very bad.  As in, I would not recommend it to anyone.  As in, who was the demographic for this travesty?

What follows is heavily laden with spoilers, but I don’t care, since spoiling the movie might save you from having to see it.  The Shape of Water is basically a “love” story between a woman and a creature-from-the-black-lagoon-type fish person.  They fall in love, she helps him escape the clutches of the evil government, and then she dies.  The end.


This is the fish guy from Hellboy, not The Shape of Water, but it doesn’t matter

Some people found the story inventive, or touching.  The production design was great, after all.  But don’t forget: the production design for Mars Attacks! was also great, and look what resulted.

Here, in no particular order, are the reasons that I hated The Shape of Water so much:

  1. The “love” story was ridiculous and juvenile. There’s no reason, given what we see in the movie, that either the woman or the fish-guy would realistically have fallen in love.  Love is about connecting intellectually, about communication, and commonalities.  At least, as an adult, that’s how I see love.  In the movie, however, the woman is mute, and it’s not even clear that the fish-guy is more intelligent than a chimpanzee.  So they never connect on any intellectual level; they never communicate, really, in any meaningful way.  And besides being victims, they don’t have any commonalities.  He’s a captive; she feels sorry for him; they share an egg; they want to fuck.  That’s pretty much it.  We don’t see them “falling in love”; we don’t see any reason for this woman to be attracted to a fish-guy.  Maybe there’s some back story about her being mute that would explain this, but we never get the back story.    She remains a cipher.  I honestly got the impression that she was just lonely, and for whatever reason, she was attracted to the fish-guy because he was not a white male.  Which brings me to:
  2. Every white male in the movie is bad. There is one decent white male, but he’s a Russian spy.  All the other white males are evil.  OK, I get it.  But this is very ham-handed.
  3. The side characters are a who’s who of oppression. The supporting cast of The Shape of Water are like a checklist of oppressed groups: there’s a disabled woman, a gay man, an African American woman with a crappy husband, and so forth.  That’s fine, as far as it goes, but mentioning an oppressive situation is different than addressing it.  The movie has the feel, often, of “Look! This guy is gay!  And it’s the 60’s, so it was tough on him!”  All these oppressed characters sprinkled in distract from the main point (such as it is) of woman/fish-man love.  They should have spent more time on the romance, to make it plausible, rather than make a checklist of 21st century causes.
  4. The score. Two hours of French accordion music.  Enough said.
  5. The lack of originality:
    1. Fishsticks looks exactly like the fish person in Hellboy, another del Toro movie, which incidentally was a better movie.
    2. The ending of The Shape of Water was exactly the same as the ending to Pan’s Labyrinth (idealistic dreamer is crushed by terrible circumstances and dies at the hands of an evil guy, but before dying retreats into a dream-like fantasy world.)
    3. Why is it that Amazon rainforest fauna always hide the cure to all our modern-day ills? Fishboy’s sweat secretions (or semen?) heal things in the same way that Sean Connery’s ants can cure cancer in Medicine Man.  Everybody loves the idea of mother nature always having a solution, but chemistry doesn’t work that way.  Natural doesn’t mean better, sorry.
  6. The mean-spirited ending. The whole movie might have been redeemed if Shrimpy had taken the moral high-ground at the end.  He could have healed the evil guy, regenerated the guy’s fingers.  Then, even if Tarter Sauce died, the ending would have been poignant and sad.  Instead, he just kills the guy, brutally, with a slash to the throat.  I guess that’s what audiences want, and the message is Violence is the answer!  Kill!  Kill!  So much for Fish Sauce being better than us.  Honestly, he seemed like a full grown chimp: smart, but incredibly dangerous and not ready for prime time.
  7. The terrible physics.  I’m sorry, you can’t fill up a bathroom with water.  Water would leak out from under the door, right?  And the door would break, right?  Absurd.
  8. The sex scene.  Just, no.  There’s a reason people have referred to this movie as Free Willy with bestiality.  I might be inclined to buy it, maybe, if there was any indication that Lobster Boy was self-aware, but there’s not.  Does he do anything that indicates he’s smarter than a chimp?  No?  Then she had sex with a chimp, basically.

OK.  I’m done.  I think I’ll go re-watch Hellboy 2.



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