Dec 07 2017
The Shape of Water
I’d been curious about The Shape of Water, but I stayed away from most information about it to keep it a surprise. Last night, I discovered I had won a pair of tickets thanks to Geeks Who Eat! I met up with some other friends who had won passes, then crossed my fingers and prayed that the film would hold up to my expectations.
I am very, very picky about the movies I see. Allen and I have a tradition as we drive home from screenings; we dissect what we saw in the car on the way home. And, for the first time this year, we left a movie screening completely devoid of a single bit of critique. Nothing about the movie stood out as superfluous. This is one of the few movies I can give a solid recommendation, especially to women, to go see. It works as a del Toro movie, it works as a romance, it works as a movie with a captivating atmosphere and story. Go see it!
- Tone: Dark comedy, tender romance, some disquieting parts.
- Sex: The romance is passionate and not crass. There is nudity but it’s not for shock-value.
- Good Ending: Not a typical depressing del Toro ending.
(further review, minor spoilers)
I went in blind, not knowing a lot about the story, but the pacing folded me right into it. Elisa works for a secret government organization and has a hum-drum janitorial job. Her personal life is barely fulfilling and monotonous; she has a best friend, her own place, lovely daydreams, but she’s trapped. Part of her yearns for an escape that she’s not sure she’ll ever find.
Eventually, one of the labs she cleans acquires a new “asset,” a Creature From the Black Lagoon-esque creature. Long story short, they feel a kinship and start an endearing friendship. When she realizes the officer overseeing the creature wants to dissect it, she decides to risk it all to save him with the help of her friends and a scientist.
A few of my friends joked about fish-dick before seeing it. The intimate scenes did not detract from how beautiful their relationship was. Elisa and the creature has a wonderful chemistry in The Shape of Water and you are genuinely happy for her and not creeped out.
Art & Design
The Shape of Water’s creature was emoted incredibly well by Doug Jones when it was injured, frightened, scary, and tender. I was completely astounded by the work on the creature design, which was meticulously executed and absolutely flawless. The world was wonderfully crafted to feel like a modern fairy-tale film. The filmography weaved in dark and unsettling moments, and kept me on the edge of my feet at times!
In the end, I would love to see it again just to experience the art direction, characters, nods, and incredible beautiful romance with a twist fairy-tale all over again. 5/5
May 13 2017
Alternative Title: David is a Giant Asshole
I am definitely not as big of an Alien franchise fan as my partner-in-crime, Allen. But, when a good friend (Geeks Who Eat) does one of their awesome movie-inspired recipes and ticket giveaways for the latest film in the franchise, Alien: Covenant, you enter! Allen jumped on top of entering too. And he won!
Upon arrival, the screening theater was PACKED. We had reserved seating outside the roped are – but practically everywhere was roped off. It was nuts! This was definitely one of the most popular screens I had been to. We ended up having to get a pair of sets up front, but in the end the movie was interesting enough that we were able to enjoy it despite our strained necks.
Alien: Covenant‘s story was disjointed, and it was difficult to follow unless you had previously seen Prometheus. For a person walking in blind – I wouldn’t recommend it without a Prometheus watch.
The first half the movie was much more cohesive than the second half; once a mysterious character appears, it seemed like the movie just threw so much at you. It reminded me of how Sunshine unraveled after its slower paced first half.
One of the bonuses is that it does clearly explain what happened after Prometheus ended. The acting was fine, the crew felt very natural and like long-time working pals. The crew still made dumb decisions, but in other parts they acted very realistically (when everything starts going to shit they freak out the way I would have freaked out). Lots of disturbing parts. Very tense, I was on edge the whole movie.
I have some friends who just want the nitty gritty details. Well, here you go! (I’m doing this from memory, please bear with me.)
The Covenant in Alien: Covenant is on a colonization mission and everyone is still in hyper-sleep. They have seven years left to reach their future home planet. Walter, a newer model of David-Fassbender-Bot from the Prometheus film, oversees operations while the crew and colonists sleep. Long story short, there’s an accident when the ship attempts to do a solar refuel and one of the crew dies horrifically in their sleep pod due to a fire. (RIP James Franco, you never stood a chance.) The crew puts out the fire, is sad a bit, then proceeds to fix the solar issue. During the repair they discover a rogue transmission of Shaw from the first movie from a nearby planet. The new captain (previous captain died in the sleep pod fire) is like “Hey, instead of going back into cryo, let’s check the new planet out! It looks habitable and we can save some time going to our original destination AND discover the source of the transmission on the planet.”
Lead heroine Daniels (Katherine Waterson) is like “oRrrrrrrRRRrrr how about we just stick to the original mission?” and of course nobody listens to the lead woman, so we know they’re all going to die from this point on.
Most of the crew lands, and they adventure over to the rogue signal. They split up, so… we know stuff is going to go wrong soon. Team 1 and Team 2. Two members of the traversing crew from each team activate spores from the black-goo-infected plants (that black-goo from the previous film that made it into this planet). Because, this is where Shaw and David landed after they scuttled off in Prometheus, of course. And the black-goo followed.
Team 2 discovers the alien vessel that’s the source of the signal, they have their “oh wow, this is cool” moment, and they realize the rogue signal was from Shaw (who was totally losing it). They know about Shaw because it’s common knowledge in the Weyland space world that the crew disappeared on their mission a decade ago. Also, they find her name tag.
The black-goo eventually starts to do its stuff. Team 1 makes it back to the shuttle that took them to the planet, but a dude in Team 1 is very sick and convulsing and ends up being that guy in the trailer that the lady was locked in with. Everything is terrible as the alien BURSTS OUT OF THE DUDE’S DAMN BACK and it’s super nasty and a lady ends up trying to kill it by shooting it and setting everything on fire. (Which, to be fair, is what I do when I find a big spider).
Long story short, those three people die. (To the alien exploding out, to the alien baby feasting, and to the untimely fire explosion, which also totally destroys the shuttle.)
The other crew witnesses this, and they’re like “Oh no!” but they have bigger fish to fry as one of their dudes also convulses and has a black-goo alien pop out of him. The two alien babies run around the grass around them like tiny terrifying velociraptors, and after putting up a brave (but kind of crappy) fight, a mysterious caped and hooded figure swoops down to spark a flare to distract the alien babies and save them.
They follow their mysterious savior, through a giant graveyard of dead Engineers (this is answered in a little bit), and find out that it’s David from Prometheus.
And the audience collectively sighs because we know David is simply awful and homicidal and they’re all going to die and we can’t warn them so we just gotta sit back and be frustrated.
They tell David why they’re there (including Walter, who is David 2.0 and has more of a stick up his ass), and he’s like “Oh, you have 2000 colonists on a ship, that’s so cool.” And the audience sighs again because we’re like “Oh God, why did you tell David that.”
Daniels, this whole time is like “I told you everything would go horribly wrong” but she doesn’t say it because it’s too late for that crap.
It’s hard to type from here on, because the movie becomes a weird mess after David appears and honestly, it blurs together. Long story short, after Prometheus, David set off a catastrophic black-goo drop on allllllll of the Engineers and killed them all. He then spent a long time (a decade?) watching the black-goo aliens destroy all life on the planet. He does it because he’s bored and has a god complex that is shoved down our throats through poetry the whole dang second half of the movie. He also goddess-worships Shaw for her part in dying and helping bring the black-goo/aliens here. He becomes this weird-hot-maternal-God-figure who wants to rebel against his creator by spitting in humanity’s face by creating new aliens from the corpses and flesh of theirs.
There’s also a lot of weird existential David-on-Walter moments, which I’m not sure were for fan service or to test Fassbender’s acting limits. There are some awkward extended Fassbender-on-Fassbender scenes where we’re half positive he’s gonna do himself.
David waits patiently for the crew to signal the Covenant to find a way to yank them out of that shitty planet (there’s a violent storm that complicates things), and then David starts picking off the crew with his alien babies.
Daniels starts to piece stuff together. They all FINALLY figure out David caused the planet to die and killed Shaw. David seems to have the upper hand, so Walter shows that he’s a badass and tries to stop him because he has protocols to not be a total dick like David. Walter is cool. He runs out in time to escape with them.
Blah blah blah, an alien that popped out of the captain (WHO WALKED INTO A ROOM FULL OF ALIEN EGGS EGGS BECAUSE DAVID PINKY SWORE THAT IT WAS SAFE) grows comically fast and attacks the crew trying to escape, but the survivors get away anyway.
Eventually they make it back to the Covenant, but SURPRISE! One of the survivors was infected by David, the alien comes out and kills some people in the shower in a pointless shower-death-tropey scene, and Walter helps Daniels and Whats-His-Face corral and kill it by jettisoning it into space….
… but then…
SURPRISE! Walter didn’t make it off the planet after all! It was David disguised as Walter! (Not. A. Surprise. At. All.). This reveal happens when all seems safe and sound after killing that “last” alien that snuck onto the ship. Daniels is falling back into hypersleep, makes eye contact, and realizes David snuck back up with them. She freaks out as she is locked in the cryo pod, but it’s too late.
David has access to a shitload of colonists and colonist embryos and the movie ends on a dark note as he smirks and plots his next awful series of events.
World Building & Cinematography
I really appreciated the layered world-building design. Crew costumes. monster designs. David’s lair. The half-dead planet they discovered. Everything feels incredibly well-crafted, and there is a lot of visual geek porn.
And while I’m not a huge fan of gore, Alien: Covenant definitely delivered on the aliens bursting out of the poor human characters.
The cinematography was also gorgeous and worked well with the pacing to keep me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t think of a scene that failed visually Everything was really beautiful and desolate.
The movie didn’t really know what themes it wanted to stick with. It doesn’t really explain how the main crew are all couples, the way the trailer does! They also throw in David’s obsessive god complex (if I hear “Ozymandias” mentioned ONE MORE TIME… I swear to Jeebus), then a possible awesome “Walter might discover his humanity and might also turn evil” thread that goes nowhere… they should have kept one and stuck with it cohesively.
A Tale of Two Man-Bots: David and Walter
Michael Fassbender was, hands down, the highlight of Alien: Covenant. He had some really creepy scenes that, for some reason, folded into fan fiction material. There is an extended scene where David helps Walter with “fingering” his flute. (Actual quote from the movie had us all giggling like 12-year-olds.) And a scene where David leans down to kiss Walter in possibly the less-sexy-self-gay-kiss I have ever seen in a film. Come on, David. You had 10 years in exile and no time to practice?
Either way, Fassbender did a great job playing two distinctive man-bots. At the end of the movie, we, as an audience, had a great time trying to figure out which Fassbender-bot had survived.
Okay, the movie was a hot mess in terms of the Alien lore and ret-conning, but I still enjoyed it a lot as a guilty pleasure fic. I recommend watching it with friends, some parts are much too hilarious and tropey to experience alone.
I give it 3.5/5 stars.
For a refresher, here’s the trailer for Alien: Covenant
Feb 03 2017
I was super lucky to enter and win Geeks Who Eat’s Rings ticket giveaway! All I had to do was follow some of their social media accounts to enter, and Sarah (one of Geeks Who Eat’s owners) shot me a message to keep an eye out for the movie rep’s email. Thank you, Allied, for the tickets to the VIP screening!
Fair warning: Rotten Tomatoes currently has it at 0%. I feel way less harsh about my impression now. 😉
The movie was actually really beautiful to me. Some of the scenes were creepy and claustrophobic. The color grading was really artistic in spots. Some effects were really cool: I loved the reverse-flowing rain scene in the beginning. And any scenes that seemed unnaturally or jarring, I took as them being part of Samara’s “video world” being projected into real life.
The main female character had the personality of a soggy potato. The professor character, played by Johnny Galecki, had some potential but he was written (or acted) as a very punchable character and I was glad he was pulled out of the picture when he met an untimely fate in the movie. Everyone was kind of forgettable.
It was just a combination of bad tropes and boring pacing. It’s sort of a reboot/continuation. Honestly, I feel like I need to rewatch the original.
They explain the VHS tape being digitized by the professor, and that people can lose their “7 days” death sentence if they copy the digital version they watched and make someone else watch their copy. A professor uses his students to experiment with this. The main character’s boyfriend is one of these students. So she gets roped in. Eventually she watches the video to save her boyfriend. And then we have to follow along as they follow her visions to a small town to dispose of her remains.
(MAIN SPOILER) The big twist is that Samara was born from some lady a priest kept locked in a basement as a slave. zzzzzz. :/ And that obviously finding her remains and burning them is *not* what the main characters should have done.
Honestly, I really feel like they could have ditched the romance and focused on the academic research part of the story. I know a few other movies have done that, but I really like those kinds of scary movies – scientific minds trying to document scary paranormal stuff.
OK, a few jumps got me. It’s not particularly “OMG” scary or gorey. But there are some tense moments and one jump scare made me accidentally kick the lady sitting next to me. (Sorry lady!)
Imagine eating wallpaper paste, listening to Coldplay and watching the entire ‘Da Vinci Code’ trilogy back to back. Still less boring than ‘Rings’. –Tom Huddleston