What to watch this week: Shape of Water and Star Wars Resistance
This week, del Toro's fishy fantasy takes shape and Poe Dameron lands on Foxtel Now.
Every week, finder digs through the week's new releases on Netflix, Stan, Foxtel, Prime Video and more to bring you our top picks for must-watch movies and television shows.
Movie pick: The Shape of Water (2018)
What's it about?
Finally, a piece of media that boldly rises above the prejudices of our supposed "modern" society to shine a light on the love that dare not gargle its name, woman and merman. Guillermo del Toro takes a deep dive into the concept of amphibious attraction in The Shape of Water, an offbeat drama/thriller that starts off quite swimmingly before plunging into the usual hateful bigotry exhibited by us filthy land-dwellers.
Our tale takes place in 1962 Baltimore and centres on Elisa, a young mute cleaning woman who stumbles across a humanoid cryptid imprisoned in her secretive government work environment. The capabilities of the creature are being intensely studied for Cold War purposes by an overseer named Strickland, a sadist who is far too enthusiastic about vivisections and cattle prods. Shocked by this abuse, Elisa confides in Zelda, her African-American co-worker, and Giles, her gay roommate, and a plan to free the gentle beast is formulated.
Who's in it?
- Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito
- Doug Jones as The Asset
- Michael Shannon as Richard Strickland
- Richard Jenkins as Giles
What's the verdict?
This is quite a charming, other-worldly fairy tale that's like Beauty and the Beast meets The Creature from the Black Lagoon... meets an R-rating (fair warning, things get fishy). The set-up, production design and direction of this endearing romance fantasy are all sublime and special kudos needs to go to the mute performance of lead actress Sally Hawkins. Basically, The Shape of Water absolutely deserved the Academy Award it snagged for Best Picture.
Also, as anybody familiar with Del Toro's political views from his previous masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth will tell you, this film is quite likely an allegory for something more than just some good ol' fashioned mer-lovin'. There's an argument to be made for Strickland representing neo-fascism, with all of its cruelty and contempt for anybody and anything deemed "undesirable" be it an aquabeast, or our hearing-impaired heroine and her band of minority friends. That, or we're wrong and this really is all about breaking Aquaman out of jail so you can live under the sea (where there are no accusations, just friendly crustaceans). Either, or.
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TV pick: Star Wars Resistance Season 1 (2018)
What's it about?
Star Wars needs some runs on the board right about now. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi wasn't exactly the most celebrated sequel in the franchise's history. Solo was not of the same high quality as its fellow "Star Wars Story" Rogue One, too. Though we saw some quality spin-off action in the animation series Rebels, fans might still find themselves going into Star Wars Resistance with their expectations lower than an Imperial cleaning droid.
The set-up of Resistance is simple enough: in the years before The Force Awakens Poe Dameron recruits young pilot Kazuda Xiono to become a spy for the Resistance to keep tabs on the growing threat of the First Order (read: The Empire 2.0). Kaz is a New Republic Navy Pilot, the son of a Senator and he's pretty unorthodox as far as heroes go. The dude is basically a wiz when in the cockpit but a bit of a doofus outside of it. Be that as it may, we sense much potential in the first eight episodes of this franchise. If nothing else, it's a welcome narrative shift from Force adepts to ace pilots and dogfights – a diversion sure to keep the flyboys and flygirls happy.
Who's in it?
- Christopher Sean as Kazuda Xiono (voice)
- Josh Brener as Neeku Vozo (voice)
- Scott Lawrence as Jarek Yeager (voice)
- Suzie McGrath as Tam Ryvora (voice)
What's the verdict?
First of all, Resistance passes the authenticity test with flying colours. Classic Bill Burt sound effects. Well-scripted X-Wing and TIE fighter dogfights. And bonus points for cameos from Poe Dameron, General Organa, BB8 and there are already strong hints of a pre-patricide Kylo Ren showing up later. Better yet, this show also strikes the right balance of having just enough slapstick in it to keep the young padawans entertained without making older Jedi masters roll their eyes too much.
Speaking of which, it'll be interesting to see where the tone will go as the seasons progress. Rebels had an interesting tonal approach where it was all light and kiddy in the opening season but before long everything turned darker than Darth Maul's soul. Here's hoping something similar comes to pass after a few years into this timeline. For now this X-Wing-centric tale is doing just fine as is, firing on all four Incom 4L4 fusial engines.