Movie Review: The Shape of Water

by Brad Nelson4/5/18
This is a fanciful film, the skeleton of which could be described as a mix of Creature from the Black Lagoon and Beauty and the Beast. This film is from Guillermo del Toro, noted for (to my mind) the awful Pan’s Labyrinth. But you see much of his better effort, Hellboy, in this, including the same fish-like creature, Abe Sapien. Stylistically they are nearly identical.

The reason The Shape of Water won the Oscar for best picture is clear: This is a rather dense piece of liberal porn. It’s got hatred of the American military in it, portrayals of Bad White Men, a knock at nostalgic America, beastiality, gratuitous nudity (this otherwise could have been a PG rated film), masturbation, the shtick of women-and-people-of-color-are-always-kinder, and I think there’s even a shot at the oil companies.

And, of course, you have the big South American endangered-species fish man who is a victim of American capitalism (and of the space race) and who can be celebrated as the object of “diversity,” I guess. After all, the main character, Elisa Esposito (did I mention “the kind hispanic?), falls in love with the fish-man.

There is a kind homosexual in this (who runs into the bigoted white man). Religion is mocked, of course (except for the idea of this fish-man being a kind of natural god). There’s even a good Russian agent (and some bad ones too). There are so many leftist/liberal visual talking-points that without them, there wouldn’t be much of a movie. Oh, and the main character is a deaf mute. Isn’t that special watching her sign throughout the film?

Still, for the first 30 minutes as the mystery unfolds, it’s fun to watch. And throughout the movie, it’s visually interesting. If you’re a liberal, you’ll simply love this piece of liberal porn whose only purpose is to play to your prejudices and ingrained predilections. Fair enough, I like a good John Wayne western myself with guns, cacti, big skies, horses, and guys in black hats getting theirs.

But there’s also something very childish or child-like about this whole production. Had it been aimed at a PG audience, I think it would have been a better film. But this looks more like a production of and for adult children.

Even so, I don’t mind a good fantasy or fanciful film. The liberal talking points, while sometimes annoying, don’t necessarily bring this film down. What brings it down is when the film stops developing anything about 45 minutes into it. From then on it’s an endless portrayal of Bad Richard Strickland (played with Snidely Whiplash superficiality by Michael Shannon). I called this movie “liberal porn” but it might or precisely be called “PETA porn” the way Strickland is so cruel to animals (thus another liberal cinematic porn bullet point).

Whatever interest the story has early-on cannot be propelled and extended by visual stylishness alone. The story quickly becomes tedious, little better than a bad Mission Impossible episode. But I should state that most of the reviews I’ve read don’t pick up on what clearly seems to be the essence of the film: liberal meat on the skeleton of a rather run-of-the-mill plot. Liberal ornaments are hung all over this which is surely why this visually stylish, but barren, movie won the Oscar.

For instance, here’s a typical “logical” objection to the movie that misses the point entirely:

Are we supposed to believe that the best friend wouldn’t have freaked out about the coitus?

Of course the wise and friendly female black friend of the wise and friendly female hispanic is going to give nothing but praise for the idea of beastiality. Not in the least did this particular scene bother me as an illogical plot point. It made perfect sense within the ideological liberal framework of the film.

Other objections are sustained, such as why the rather stupid plot point of needing the canal to fill before the catch-and-release of the fish-man. Why not just let him swim off into the ocean? That never made any sense and still does not. But by this time, such points are the equivalent of quibbling that the words “life boat” are misspelled on one of the craft on the deck of the Titanic.

I’m not saying to avoid this one. Most people are curious regarding films that win the Best Picture Oscar. But only here, outside The Daily Drama, can you learn why this film won in the first place.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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6 Responses to Movie Review: The Shape of Water

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Wow, this makes Starman look un-PC. Every character in that one acted just as you would expect according to PC dictates, but this sounds even worse that way — though still an enjoyable movie.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That’s an interesting link with Starman. I don’t think I’ve seen Starman all the way through. I could just never get that far. Jeff Bridges’ performance is just too obnoxious.

      I could live with the PC subjects if the basic skeleton of the movie had been sound. Yes, I’d laugh at some of it (like the total acceptance of bestiality). And even that provides entertainment in it’s own way, if not the intended way.

      And this is a fanciful movie. You’ll note that I’ll often mark down a movie (such as Macao) when enough things just don’t make sense. Remember, you’re talking to the guru of movie reviews. I can adapt according to the circumstances.

      I Slept with a Fish-Man (otherwise known as The Shape of Water…it’s apparently very penis-shaped) is overtly fanciful, thus I don’t raise a big stink that the fish-loving bathtub-masturbating lady was able to fill up her bathroom almost to the ceiling with water by jamming a few towels under the door.

      Even when this film jumped-the-shark for many (a weird Hollywood big-production dance dream sequence), I took it in stride as expressing the Ugly Duckling’s inner desire to be the swan. This was indeed a weird sequence, but not incoherent or even illogical in the context.

      And had I been a libtard, the cinematic talking points might have been enough to distract from a rather tedious story. It’s fair to point out that I can sit down and enjoy even a mediocre Noir or Western because of the general shtick of the film (although I never pretend that mediocrity isn’t there).

      I like a good gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Libtards like total and complete acceptance of bestiality, homosexuality, “diversitiy” (even including fish-men), nudity, man-hating, America-hating, minority-loving, big-business-hating, military-hating, and animal-loving. (That just scratches the surface of libtard cinematic talking points in this one). So I get it.

      And I think this film can be understood as a type of Rorschach test for liberalism. If you like this movie, chances are you’re a Hillary voter or a libtard under the skin.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Aah, the O. K. Corral (and never mind that the gunfight was nearby, not in the corral itself). I have a lot of books and have seen a lot of versions of it, both fiction and non-fiction. But then, I’m big on Americana — the Salem witchcraft trials (go, Giles Cory, go), the Alamo, Gettysburg, the Lincoln assassination, Lizzy Borden, Leopold & Loeb, the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Kennedy assassination. Not to mention Jack the Ripper and the Titanic, so it’s not purely Americana.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Damn! Another movie I’ll have to miss.

  3. Steve Lancaster says:

    I got much the same just from the trailers, sorry you wasted two hours of your life on this Brad. Better luck next time.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      You’re very welcome, Steve. Just trying to provide a useful service here.

      By all means, if you like tongue-in=cheek sci-fi, do watch Guillermo del Toro’s “Hellboy” or even “Hellboy II.” The atmospherics are the same (groovy). And you get a much better fish-man. Doug Jones as “Abe Sapien” is rather a fun and clever character in the movie. He might be the best part of it. One may or may not like the concept of the main character, but the movie does go somewhere. It’s a good portrayal of a sort of anti-hero or reluctant hero in an odd alternate comic-bookish reality. Most comic book movies are dreadfully boring and pretentious. This one doesn’t mind poking a little fun, even at itself.

      But I find nothing at all memorable about I Slept with a Fish-Man other than the one scene (spoiler alert, but at this point, who cares) when fish-man eats the pussycat. It was the only point when the movie had a little balls. And it was thus, of course, completely out of place with the rest of the film. But, well, it was something. And it was a something quickly forgotten as having any relevance to the whole. And I’m still trying to figure out what the “whole” was.

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