Creature Featured
Shape of Water
Review by Ross Anthony

Elements of beauty and genius, but also some substantial flaws. You'll fall in love with the french aesthetic (Reminiscent of Amelie), the beautiful syrupy cinematography, moody lighting, and nostalgic time period re-creation. The dialogue is fresh and crisp, and the performances are all strong, with Michael Shannon absolutely knocking it out of the park as a mightily dislikeable bad guy. Well-paced, edited and directed.

Now on to the flaws: Warning spoiler alert. Read on at your own risk. The most glaring mar is the cliché climax. This unique artistic (and even magical at moments) production builds to an ultimately predictable and unbeautiful climax. Uhg. This neutered the gem for me. At the final point of separation, there were so many unspoken emotions to explore, why let bullets steal the spotlight and dullen the drama? And to a lesser extent, I felt the intro/outro narration added little and narrowed the wonder. Lastly, a case could be made for passing on the healing powers. The creature was already very interesting and mysterious. Plus, leaving that out would make the gill-growth resolution even more fantastical.

But, despite the flaws, I must admit, the movie had me in the palms of its hands. I loved the magical ride. It crawled up inside my sense of wonder and stirred my imagination. And as a writer myself, I enjoyed playing with alternative endings. Here's one I'd like for the story. Do you like it? What's your ending idea?

At the final dock scene, it would be more interesting to explore his "release." The creature doesn't understand "not together," he needs further heart-wrenching explanation. Then when he finally understands, he grabs Elisa and jumps in the water. This prompts the artist into panic! The creature, of course, magically evolves Elisa forward (backward?) with a fresh pair of gills and they swim happily together. But, the artist scurries to the concrete, his head out over the edge to get a closer gander. His panic turns to amazement as the whole channel lights up in dreamy blue and pink making it wondrously obvious that she's not in danger. As the Artist's jaw drops, camera rises until we see Michael Shannon standing over him. Scary Orchestral hit here. The, artist turns to him, but Shannon is so desperate, that he doesn't even take the time to shoot the artist, he simple dives into the water. Creature and woman pause their dance, and look at Shannon, not so much in fear, but in pity. This man is so focused on his own lonely goals, that he can't see the beauty. Shannon fires the gun, but the bullets slow in water and float impotently toward the two. The two reach out and grab the bullets, like berries from a bush. They gaze sadly at the angry man. The man enraged, forgets about breathing and swims toward the two, but he too becomes impotent as he gasps water instead of air. His lungs fill with fluid and he loses energy and begins to sink. The creature sees the sadness in Elisa's eyes, so he scoops up Shannon and places him up near the artist, then returns to the water never to be seen again. The artist, struggles with the idea of helping Shannon, then upset with himself, implements CPR. Shannon coughs back to life, but he's too exhausted to move, and maybe at a pivotal moment in his life (left up to the viewer). The two of them watch as the beautiful underwater stream of color and light weaves its way out to sea.

-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --

  • Shape of Water. Copyright © 2017.
  • Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, Octavia Spencer. Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Fox Searchlight.

Grade..........................B+ (B/B+ I'll round up) (4/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Tuesday, 23-Jan-2018 08:50:23 PST