The Shape of Water Review

From the talented mind of Guillermo del Toro comes one of the most highly praised and cherished films of 2017, The Shape of Water.

Taking place during the early Cold War years, the story focuses on a mute U.S. government lab employee named Elisa (played wonderfully by Sally Hawkins). Living a quite isolated life, things change forever when she discovers a classified government secret in the lab — a scaled, one-of-a-kind creature taken from South America. Elisa quickly develops a romantic bond with the Amphibian Man (as I will refer to him as), and even hatches a daring plan to rescue him from the facility. What follows is an exciting love story that’s both quaint and dramatic.

The Shape of Water had a nice 1950’s era look, with a distinct, Guillermo del Toro style to it. Set designs (like the chambers of the Amphibian Man) and their lighting were reminiscent of del Toro’s visually artistic work on Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy. Even the Amphibian Man himself was aesthetically similar to monsters I saw in Hellboy, only with a Creature from the Black Lagoon look.

And like many of del Toro’s other films, the fantasy elements fused seamlessly with the more grounded plot points. Some scenes would be engulfed in high-stakes tension between Elisa and the intimidating Colonel Strickland (played fiercely by Michael Shannon). Other contrasting moments would have this lighthearted, fantasy whimsy to them, mostly pertaining to the romantic bond between Elisa and the Amphibian Man. This romance, which is the cornerstone of the whole film, unfolds in the most magical and marvelous of ways. And the creature-human gap between the two doesn’t come off as jarring as one would think.

The Shape of Water was a beautifully romantic story that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. The love story of Elisa and the Amphibian Man was more emotionally moving and heartfelt than any love story I’ve seen in a long time. The performances were incredibly convincing, the cinematography distinct, and the story both traditional and novel at the same time. All the pieces fell perfectly together for The Shape of Water, making it an intense and exciting fairy tale of the highest quality, and one that I plan on returning to for future viewings.

The Verdict: A

-Zachary Flint

Alice: Through the Looking Glass Review


Alice through the Looking Glass managed to feel even more dull, drab, and overall worse than the previous Alice in Wonderland. Even to the point where I cannot remember laughing once throughout the whole film.

The story takes place three years after the events of the first film, as Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is returning from a voyage at sea, only to find out her mother sold her half of the company to that pale guy Sheamus from the first movie. Alice gets upset and somehow makes it back to “Underland”. Only to find out that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is literally dying because nobody believes him that his parents are still alive somewhere.

Right off the bat everything is going wrong for our protagonist. All these problems mixed with the dark tone of the film create a very depressing mood. I hardly smiled while watching the movie. Did nobody in the production of this film stop and think that maybe it was a little too dark? Given the source material of the usually wacky and nonsensical world of Wonderland.

Since the main comedic relief of the previous Alice in Wonderland film is a wet blanket in this film, there are few jokes made. The jokes that were made in Alice through the Looking Glass got very little laughs from the audience. The theater was dead silent the entire runtime and some moviegoers even got up and left before the halfway point.

The creators of Alice through the Looking Glass even managed to make Sacha Baron Cohen as boring and drab as possible. I felt that his dialogue was just as unfunny and lame as the rest of the cast. I guess he was supposed to take the role as comedic relief but his character came off as painful to watch.

The one major plus of this movie is our protagonist Alice herself. More specifically, Mia Wasikowska’s acting. In Alice in Wonderland, I felt she was very drab and showed little to no emotion throughout the entirety of the runtime. In Alice through the Looking Glass she genuinely held my attention more than any other actor or actress in the movie. She showed emotion, and led us a little deeper into the character of Alice.

I know many people, including myself, felt that Time Burton taking a back seat to directing and only producing the film would give a better outcome than his Alice in Wonderland. Maybe it wouldn’t be so dark, the characters as bland, and the general feeling not “style over substance”.

We were all very wrong.

Overall, I was mostly disappointed with Alice through the Looking Glass. Other than some of the visuals and Mia Wasikowska’s performance, I don’t think this film had anything going for it. It’s a real shame that the live action adaptations of Alice in Wonderland didn’t turn out as everyone would have liked. Perhaps in the future, with Disney’s other live action remakes, Alice in Wonderland can have a better fitting movie.

Zachary Flint