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The Voice

Cine-Men: Is ‘The Shape of Water’ fantastic or a flop?

     “The Shape of Water” is the story of Elisa, a mute custodian who works in a secret government facility and discovers a fishlike creature that is being studied within the compound. After seeing how the creature is abused, she begins to feel sympathetic towards it.

     As time goes on, she slowly gains its trust by feeding it eggs, playing music for it and teaching it sign language. Elisa soon learns of the higher-ups’ decision to kill and dissect the creature, and hatches a plot to help him escape his confinement.

     One of the obvious highlights of the movie was the special effects. The use of an actual actor in heavy makeup was a much better choice than to use CGI. It lets the actors interact with him, him with the environment, and probably costs a whole lot less.

     Doug Jones more or less reprised his role as a fish-man in one of Guillermo del Toro’s films. He played Abe Sapien in the “Hellboy” movies and wore almost the exact same makeup. One of the cool parts of the fish-man’s costuming was the bioluminescence under his skin. Considering that’s all practical effects, it’s pretty impressive.

     This movie won several awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Soundtrack. The orchestral composition does a great job in telling the story in its own musical way. One piece in particular gives a sense of fantasy and wonder with its contrast between long notes between the string section and the arpeggiated flutters of the flutes.

     This attention to aesthetic helps to give each scene its own setting while providing the touch of fantasy that gives the overall theme of the plot.
     Ben: I’m definitely in the majority of people who like this movie. I thought it was an intriguing love story with plenty of interesting characters. I liked how Elisa and the fish-man’s relationship moved through basic teaching and sign language.

     I enjoyed the antagonistic Strickland, who was slowly losing his mind due to pain pills. I don’t have too much to say about it, other than that I enjoyed it and thought it was good. The movie was nice to look at with good cinematography and set design. As for complaints, there’s a couple. For one, Elisa’s inner thoughts breaking out into a black and white musical number was really weird. In short, it’s a semi-typical love story with atypical characters. I give this a 7/10.
     Jessep: My friends and I had a game back in high school. We would go on websites like fanfiction.net and deviantart.com and read aloud all the most stupid and depraved Fanfictions we could find while keeping a straight face. Never in my life would I expect to see one of these types of stories play before my very eyes in film format.

     I could write an extensive JSTOR article explaining everything I see wrong with this movie. It lacks subtlety in every possible aspect between its in-your-face commentary, the excessively predictable and circumstantial plot elements involving Elisa, and that musical number… Why that musical number? I’m sorry, but if you want your mute character to be able to speak for an inner monologue of some kind, there are admittedly better and more tasteful ways of doing it.

     But I think what really bugs me about this film is that it is essentially a story about people making the stupidest and most irrational decisions anyone could ever make, with the one who has the stupidest and most irrational coming out on top and getting what they want in the end.
From the protagonist to her roommate, to the villains that ran the facility, to the scientist trying to stop them, not a single one of them seemed capable of any rational thought.

     Elisa’s friend at the workplace was probably the only person who had a brain. Everyone else either wanted that fish bod or was so hyped-up on pain pills I swear they were about to make a Soundcloud and get on a collab mixtape with Boonk Gang.

     I do have to admit though, the cinematography, effects, and soundtrack were good. Who knows, maybe later after I have time to heal from what I just witnessed, I can look back on this movie and laugh the same way I do at “RoboCop 3” or “Wild Wild West.” Until then, I don’t think I can rate it.
To paraphrase Anthony Fantano, “You can have all the reach and ability, but if you don’t have grasp of anything, all you’re going to grab when you reach is tastelessness.” So, this “Shape of Water” movie… It’s not good (cue cheap explosion).


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