Shape of Water, All The Money in The World, and Darkest Hour: A Triple Header Review

I generally don’t do this.

Ok on second thought I’ve never done this.

Usually I try to space my reviews out but this past week I blitzed through three films–two on one night in different theaters which I’ve also never done. Guess there’s a first time for everything!

That being said the three films I watched have some serious Oscar potential so perhaps I could have shortened the title of my article to something short and fancy with a bit of intrigue but I’m pretty bread and butter when it comes to my titles.

Anyway I’m blabbering. Here’s my short reviews of The Shape of Water, All the Money in the World, and The Darkest Hour.

The Shape of Water

Does anyone know the answer to this equation? The Creature From the Black Lagoon + Beauty and the Beast – Stockholm Syndrome=?????

The answer is The Shape of Water. From acclaimed visual director Guillermo Del Toro comes a film that explores the topic of love between two unlikely prospects. When Elisa, a cleaning lady at a top secret laboratory comes in contact with a classified experiment she gets more than she could have ever imagined in a companion, a lover, and a soul mate. Yes, the soul mate looks like an other worldly cousin of the Swamp Thing but the point of the film is that love knows no boundaries which is apparently demonstrated by a mute woman and a humanesque sea creature that identifies as a…well human I suppose.

While I certainly admire ambition behind the story and vision necessary to pull it off it really didn’t resonate with me. It’s one thing to fall in “love” with a creature in a philos type of way–such as the way Travis loves Old Yeller or how I loved Dumbo as a kid. But when this woman ends up having sex with this fish-man (spoiler) I’m sorry but it was just a major turn off for me. Call me insensitive or lacking in perspective but I just couldn’t get past that. What I did appreciate was the character sketch of Elisa, an individual who can’t communicate using words yet that doesn’t exempt her from expressing love. Many times stories about people with disabilities portrays them in a way that makes us feel sadness and empathy for their situation–but we rarely relate to them or realize their innermost feelings of adequacy and acceptance. Sally Hawkins portrays disability in a vulnerable and fleshed out (literally) way that is convincing and thought provoking.

To sum it up this film is basically Beauty and the Beast for adults with certain emphases on disability, social acceptance, and the boundless transient nature of love. As bold and audacious as the concept is, however, the overall effect fell flat on my emotions. That being said, the movie is well acted, beautifully shot, and somewhat captivating. The creature is a wonder of costuming and computer graphics–could certainly win an Oscar for best visual effects.

Daily Diatribe Rating: 6.8/10

All The Money in The World

From another acclaimed director, Ridley Scott, (Alien, Gladiator, The Martian) comes a film based on the true story of the kidnapping of 16 year John Paul Getty III, the grandson of one of the richest men to ever live, Jean Paul Getty portrayed by Christopher Plummer. Despite the kidnapper’s demands for a ransom that could have been easily paid, Jean Paul refuses time and time again despite his daughter-in-law’s pleas. Instead he hires an advisor (Mark Wahlberg) to engage in race against time to rescue his grandson without paying a single penny.

With a premise which is as interesting as it is fascinating it’s amazing that this true account has not been made into a film until now. Excellent performances abound in this film coming from all the actors and actresses involved, notably Christopher Plummer who actually replaced Kevin Spacey in the role after the sexual assault accusation came out against the seasoned actor. Plummer is beyond convincing as a seemingly smart and put-together individual who has let greed consume his love for money and possessions over his own flesh and blood. His narrative is by far the most interesting in the film and contains many valuable lessons regarding the possessions of this world and value we place on them.

As far as kidnapping/crime films go the movie somewhat falls short. While certain elements are intriguing it kind of seems like a rehashed and unoriginal plot with typical kidnapper-hostage interactions that one would come to expect. The movie also seems long and drawn out. The number one rule of making a film is “never waste the audience’s time” and there was definitely a few occasions where I felt as though that was the case.

Overall the film boast several great character sketches with some very good portrayals. Ridley Scott could make a bid as Best Director at the Academy Awards and I can certainly see Michelle Williams making a pass at the Best Supporting Actress accolade.

Daily Diatribe Rating: 7.3/10

 Darkest Hour

Featuring one of the most underrated yet deserving actors of all time, Gary Oldman,  Darkest Hour recounts the life of one of the world’s greatest statesmen, Winston Churchill. This fascinating biopic gives creedence and homage to the life and times of Churchill, particularly his role in influencing the tide of World War II through his stubbornness, courage, and refusal to give up or surrender.

As a big fan of history and WWII I really enjoyed this movie, particularly Gary Oldman’s performance. I’ve watched quite a few video clips of Churchill’s speeches and mannerisms and I have to say that he came to life before my very eyes through Oldman portrayal. I think that he is more than deserving of the Oscar for best actor and if he wins it will be high time too. He’s an incredibly diverse actor who really absorbs whatever character he’s given. This performance just might send him over the top–it did in my book.

Overall the film is very interesting in its depiction of the character, decisions, and tenacity held by Mr. Churchill despite the opposition from the king, the opposing party, and even his own party. The film is a real testament to doing right no matter the cost or the opinions of the masses. Another cool element of the movie is that it takes a deeper look into the events at Dunkirk and Operation Dynamo meaning that it very well complements Christopher Nolan’s war film that came out earlier this year. It would be more than fitting to make a supercut of the two films as both portray the heroic event from different sides of the coin. Overall Darkest Hour is a satisfying film capitulated by a stunning performance by Oldman.

Daily Diatribe Rating: 8.2/10

One comment

  1. I don’t know about Beauty and the Beast here. A sense of obligation and confinement seems pretty essential to that storyline. This character chooses her beast from the very beginning. It’s a different theme altogether.


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