The Shape of Water – Red Band Trailer

Just in case anyone out there thinks Screenphiles has become a member of the Guillermo Del Toro Fan Club (not that there’s such a thing as far as I know), let me assure you in no way is that the case.

Though speaking of Del Toro, did you know a Red Band trailer from The Shape of Water recently dropped?

This is interesting for numerous reasons though the first that comes to mind is that–based on the trailers released thus far–is if there is even anything at all ‘Red band’ (which typically designates violence, sexual content or lots of really bad words–and I’m not kidding about that last one)  about the movie.

Having watched the so-called Red band trailer the worse I saw were two letters of a pretty common expletive (there was an earlier scene that was a bit questionable, though I need to watch it again), though what we have seen this far has been pretty tame and by no means warrants a ‘Red band’ designation.

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Hellboy Returns (Sort of…)

This is an image of Ron Perlman as Hellboy from Guillermo Del Toro’s 2008 movie, Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

If anyone could be said to be destined to play a character it’s Perlman, who’s Hellboy looked like he was pulled from the pages of Mike Mignola’s comic.

Flash forward to 2017 when the third film (Del Toro always intended to make a trilogy featuring Hellboy) was for a time considered, then abandoned.

For awhile it appeared that that was the end of Hellboy movies for the foreseeable future, till we learned that there would indeed be another, though without the participation of either Del Toro or Perlman.

This time around Hellboy will be directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday) and played by David Harbour (Stranger Things).

And I admit that it bothered me.  Guillermo Del Toro is for my money one of the most visually interesting directors working today and to have someone else do what would have been the final chapter in his penultimate Hellboy story somehow felt…wrong.

And to be sure, the way Del Toro either abandoned projects or had them fall apart for one reason or another didn’t exactly assuage my unease.

I mention all the above because today an image was released of David Harbour as Hellboy and it looks…pretty damn good!

He’s certainly more vascular than Perlman’s version of the character.  And for me he visually gives off a very Conan-vibe, circa 2011 and Jason Momoa.

I also like the moodier way he appears to be photographed.  With Guillermo Del Toro I felt that he made sure that you were aware that you were watching a comic writ large, which was his intention.

Neil Marshall may be taking an entirely different route in that the producers are working with a hard-R, as opposed to a PG-13 rating–thanks Deadpool though Blade should get the real credit–so a more visceral, physical feel is likely what the new producers are looking to achieve.

The Water Seems Fine

I have to admit that when I learned a bit more about Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water I was somewhat underwhelmed (partially because the color palette of the trailer seemed too evocative of earlier Del Toro films and partially because it also seemed like a stealth Hellboy prequel, which sucks because we never ended up with a third movie in the series; though that’s no longer the case, it will be an entirely different animal than the Del Toro movies).

So reviews have begun to filter in, and they so far seem rather effusive with their praise (though keep in mind that there have been relatively few reviews thus far; no more than eight to ten.  So expect The Shape of Water‘s perfect score to fall when more are posted) with lots of comparisons to Pan’s Labyrinth–though for my money The Devil’s Backbone is a more interesting movie.

Caused To Be Alarmed

While not a huge Hellboy fan–I’ve seen the two Guillermo Del Toro-directed movies and read the occasional comic–I don’t know enough about the character Ed Skrein would have played to comment upon his decision to withdraw from the role.

Though in this day and age, is there really any excuse to cast a white actor in a role that originally was–in this instance–Asian?  Was there a sudden dearth of Asian actors?

And before anyone even thinks it, casting people of color in roles traditionally filled by white people isn’t necessarily the same thing.  For instance, I recall Roland from Steven King’s Dark Tower series of books being white–though it’s been awhile since I read them–and Idris Elba was cast as the role.

So is that being hypocritical?

Not at all, for a few reasons.  First off, are white actors hurting for roles?

And that’s not to diminish how difficult it is to be successful in Hollywood though despite being hard in general, I suspect that if you’re white the odds are greater that you’ll find work consistently.

Does that mean all ALL white actors are doing great?  Of course not, though what it does mean that as an white actor you’re likelier to have significantly better odds of working regularly than black actors.

Or Hispanic actors.  Or Native American actors.

And speaking of Asian actors, the image on the the left is from The Conqueror, a big-budget (for 1956) movie starring John Wayne.

Let that sink in for a moment John Wayne as Genghis Khan.  

Now was there an Asian actor (at the time) with the box-office pull of John Wayne?

Likely not, and one reason why is that roles that would (and definitely should) have been played by Asian people, weren’t.

For instance, he’s a photo from Charlie Chan in Rio from 1941. The actor playing Charlie Chan–holding the magnifying glassimg_0543-1 on the right–is Sidney Toler (if his name didn’t give him away, Toler is as Asian as I am, and I’m definitely NOT Asian). 

And just so you don’t assume that this frankly offensive casting trend is a remnant of the distant past, here’s Joel Gray from Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.

Which was in 1985.

And let’s not forget Ghost In The Shell, which I remember like yesterday–which relatively speaking it was–since it came out earlier this year.


Del Toro’s Fantastic Voyage

Guillermo Del Toro ranks among my favorite directors, though what I have seen–which is exclusively the trailer–of The Shape of Water left me underwhelmed.

Color palette-wise it feels a lot like Blade II, while story-wise and visually it feels like The Further Adventures of Abe Sapien (though part of me hopes the movie is a backdoor way for Del Toro to delve deeper into the worlds of H.P Lovecraft).

In other words, despite never having seen the movie, I feel like I have, which is never a good thing.

Now, Del Toro directing a remake of 1966’s Fantastic Voyage?  Now that I’m interested in!

By the way, this is how you do remakes!  Most people don’t even remember the original–though there also was a cartoon based on it two years later, never mind the novel–so it’s going to be new to most, which should give the producers room to veer from the source material if necessary.

Though there’s a fly in the soup, namely David Goyer, who’s writing (though to be fair Goyer also wrote Blade II and Del Toro was apparently able to reign in his hackier tendencies, so hope springs eternal).

By the way, Guru!?  Notice how everyone on the team has an actual name, while the Indian character doesn’t (A guru is ‘a religious teacher and spiritual guide in Hinduism…’).

That’s like naming someone ‘teacher’ or ‘bar keep.’  And I won’t even start on the ‘master of mysterious powers’ malarkey.

The Shape of Water – Trailer

Guillermo Del Toro is, visually speaking, one of the most distinctive directors working today.

The way he lays out a scene, the color palette he uses…typically unique and unlike any anyone else.

So, why am I (atypically) lukewarm toward his latest project, The Shape of Water?

Maybe because it looks very much like things we have already seen from the auteur before.

The set design of the laboratory where the creature is held looks too similar to designs he’s used in movies like Blade II and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army while the Deep One itself looks like a not-too-distant relation of Abe Sapien from the latter movie.

In fact, the trailer plays almost as a Hellboy prequel (minus Hellboy, that is) which is certainly odd.

Raising Hell(boy)

When I read yesterday that the kibosh had been put on Hellboy III by none other than Guillermo Del Toro himself, I have to admit that I was a bit put out.

And what his account lacks in detail, it more than made up for in finality. 

As I said, I was a bit bothered, till I gave it some thought. The first Hellboy premiered in 2004, and like most projects Del Toro tackled, the love he felt for the subject matter saturated every frame.

The sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army came four years later, and managed to build on what was introduced in the first movie, while at the same time expanding on the world of the  B.P.R.D (the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense).

And as usual, it was a beautiful movie.  Del Toro was one of the first directors I can recall who used color to saturate a scene and I am confident in saying no one does so with more  assurance than he (the Underworld movies attempted a similar technique, but appeared heavy-handed compared to Del Toro’s use of the technique). 

So would I like to see another Hellboy movie?  Sure, especially since they managed to be unlike anything else produced at the time though as far as I am concerned, Del Toro (in movies) was Hellboy’s heart and soul and if he’s ready to turn the last page of this particular comic, then I am too.