The Shape of Water is an adult fairy tale, of monsters and lovers, sacrifice and hatred.
We are taken to the post WW2 anti-communist paranoid America, coloured with a dark palate, giving an impression of an old gothic horror.
Emotions are all ramped up to the maximum with no time for nuance or subtlety.
Thankfully the plot moves quickly as a result and the 2 hour 3 minute duration flies as quickly.
This film is probably the director Guillermo Del Toro’s best work (I haven’t seen them all so cannot be certain).
The performances by actors Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins and Doug Jones are all excellent.
I would particularly pick out Doug Jones who inhabits the central creature around which the story revolves. He brings the full range of emotions to his character without benefit of language, purely by his body language, which shines through his latex prosthetic body. (You may have seen him recently in Star Trek: Discovery, similarly cloaked in alien costume.)
As the story reached the ultimate and predictable conclusion, I felt this to have been a satisfying experience.
This will not be everybody’s cup of tea; indeed I resisted seeing it until after its Bafta success.
It is well worth 4 out of five stars.
In some respects, reviewing this film seems like a waste of time because the whole franchise is Marmite. (For my non-UK readers, Marmite is a strong, yeast based spread which “You either love it or hate it” and nothing will change your views).
I freely admit to being a hard-core fan since I was in New York when the first film opened and saw it on Times Square just a week after it opened in 1977.
After seeing this tale from the series, I was left feeling conflicted. There is something missing from the spirit of the film, which I think I have identified.
What is present is an atmosphere of foreboding. Part of this is the realisation that Carrie Fisher will not be in any further films, but also that the story is losing itself in a circle of plot clichés.
So what is missing? Joy.
The simple, innocent joy, that in the eternal fight of good vs evil, knowing that good will always be triumphant.
Also, the pure joy of love and laughter.
Sadly my inner 14yr old child was not excited by this film, but my adult self was. Tor this reason I give it 4 out of five stars.
Yet another superhero movie, Justice League, hit our cinema this weekend. It follows the standard format of the undefeatable villain of the week threatens the world only to be defeated by one or more heroes. There are all the CGI bangs and whistles to draw in the massive following these films attract and produce huge fortunes for the studios.
Sadly this is not one of the best by quite a margin.
There is too much squeezed into the story.
There are three new characters being introduced into the franchise. They may be long established in comic book lore but they each get the ‘origin story’ treatment, which slows the narrative to a crawl for the first half of the film.
Having done this, these characters are relegated to supporting roles for the more famous and already successful heroes.
The climax of the film is a fairly standard mass destruction of property, with the villain finally but inevitably defeated.
If this genre of film is your thing then this is a definite 2nd choice compared to Thor: Ragnorok, which is still running in cinemas.
I give this a ‘must try harder’ 2 stars out of five.
The latest offering from the Marvel universe, Thor Ragnarok, sees the return of Thor, as brought to life by Chris Hemsworth.
Aimed at the 12-year-old audience, the violence is almost bloodless and profanities are kept to the mild end of the spectrum. Layered on top of this is a plethora of adult targeted jokes and characterisations that should keep most grownups laughing.
In this story Thor faces two different baddies. The first is Cate Blanchett as Thor’s very bad, big sister Hela. The second is Jeff Goldblum as possibly the funniest and campest dictator in cinema history.
I felt rather sorry for Ms Blanchett, great actor as she is, because Goldblum dominates the story with a far richer and funnier part.
The action sequences are very impressive as is normal now, but for once, the script is equally good, blending the various story lines smoothly, while keeping the plot moving and maintaining the very funny humour.
I laughed out loud frequently and left the cinema feeling refreshed and happy.
I can’t expect much more than that from any film.
The result is therefore 5 out of five stars for this outstanding superhero tale.
You certainly get value for money from Blade Runner 2049, running at 2 hours 44 minutes.
Fortunately the director has filled that time to great advantage. Weaving a complex and compelling tale, this story is set in same dystopian world of the original Blade Runner.
If you liked the original, this film answers many of the questions raised by the first.
Ryan Goslings performance is very good, encapsulating his character very well. It has to be said that the film only comes to life towards the latter part when Harrison Ford appears.
If you haven’t seen or did not like the original, I fear this would not impress you and probably leave you wondering why you bothered.
I would strongly recommend seeing the original first if you have not already done so or just to refresh your memory.
So this is a good, possibly great and definitely cult movie.
As a fan, it gets 4 stars out of five from me.
This film is based on the final book in Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ series.
We are presented with the good guy Roland (Idris Elba) and the bad guy Walter (Matthew McConaughey) ready-made. There is no real character building attempted so making it difficult to cheer for the hero or boo the baddie.
Neither appears to be totally good or evil, other than wanting to kill each other and destroy or protect The Dark Tower.
All we know of this tower is that it is at the centre of everything.
Into this mix comes a troubled boy who has visions of The Dark Tower etc.
This is then all mixed together in a recipe of Sci-fi, Western and Coming of Age genres to produce a very bland, soggy bottomed, sponge of a film.
With little of Stephen King’s trademark horror or complexity, it has clearly been diluted to get a 12A certificate.
I hope the younger audience members will get more from it than I did, even be inspired to read the original stories.
Could easily have been a lot better. Shame.
Just 2 out of five stars this time.
This is a grand scale Sci-Fi movie based on the French graphic novels “Valerian and Laureline“ and it reflects its origins very well.
The reviews for this film in the USA have not done it justice. However that is not surprising. With no American accents or big names and a complex, somewhat anti establishment story, it was probably too complex.
For a European audience, steeped in literature and especially rich Sci-Fi story telling, this is a very satisfying tale of high jinx and treachery.
It is not perfect by any means.
The Gallic humour is almost completely lost, with most of the humour coming from the comic appearance of most of the alien races (Is this racist if the race is imaginary?).
The two leading actors are somewhat young in appearance for the roles, as I had imagined them. Even so, they give lively and compelling performances.
The love story between them is a slow burn rather than hot affair, but doesn’t it make a nice change from having the characters immediately falling in love as in most films.
So I would recommend this for anybody who loves Science Fiction, enjoys complex story lines and interesting ideas. I award it 4 out of five stars.