The Shape of Water



The Shape of Water is an example of a well-made romantic fantasy. It has the gift of an imagination plus numerous skilled performances that elevate the material.

The story is about a mute, tenderhearted janitor named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who makes a new friend in the form of an amphibious humanoid. The creature is being imprisoned in a facility under the cruel treatment of a military man and the study of army scientists. They are trying to understand whether the creature can provide them with scientific discovery for military purposes. Elisa does have a neighbor and a friend at work who support her relationship with the creature. However at the facility, some workers begin to grow suspicious of her secret bond with the amphibian.

The fantasy is familiar in its ideas. Stories about friendships between humans and other- worldly creatures have been done in E.T. and the animated Beauty and the Beast. But in its own way, The Shape of Water is almost as effective as those mentioned. The setting is magical in creating a 1960’s earth but with the fine touches of a dream.  It is an achievement in production design combining green shades with shadow. The performances are very good. Hawkins as Elisa is able to convey a likable sensitivity despite not speaking. Octavia Spencer as Elisa’s friend comes across as very maternal. Richard Jenkins plays Elisa neighbor as well-meaning but conflicted internally. And Michael Shannon is an abusive, egotistic military officer. The director is Guillermo del Toro who specializes in fantasies that sometimes contain warped moments and The Shape of Water is no exception. It does have a bit of disturbing violence and sensuality. However the narrative is well written and every scene seems to have a purpose. The movie feels inspired.


Justice League



Anticipation for a superhero movie is natural, particularly because of how some of the Superman and Batman movies have performed. Simply put they are terrific entertainment. And now here is the Justice League which involves a handful of superheroes fighting together. 

The story begins with Batman who is beginning to suspect the presence a large villainous army. After discovering that they are from another dimension and with unearthly powers, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) realizes that he cannot handle them alone and forms a team with other superheroes. Apart from Superman (Henry Cavill with a part CGI face) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), he recruits Aquaman(Jason Momoa), Cyborg(Ray Fisher), and The Flash(Ezra Miller). The antagonists are led by a demon-like warrior whose goal is to capture three small boxes that contain enormous power which he plans on using to destroy the surface of the Earth and then recreate it.

Directed by Zack Snyder, the film has a gloomy but captivating visual style which is the movie’s best quality. The chemistry of the lead characters is another strong point. It has the noble Superman, a sombre Batman, the love of Wonder Woman, a cocky Aquaman, the embittered Cyborg, and finally a sarcastic though amusing Flash. Together they are entertaining to watch. Surprisingly though, the narrative written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon  is quite typical offering a few if not any surprises – don’t many villains seek power in the form of some cube?  Plus they look like CGI creations that don’t really occupy the atmosphere. Therefore they don’t create enough feelings of fear. On some level, Justice League may entertain some viewers but for the more experienced ones, a better story might be sought after.