The Shape of Water (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

The Shape of Water 4K ReviewThe Shape of Water had me very curious.  It’s not because it’s brought to you by the masterful mind of Guillermo del Toro, but it’s because of our resident MPAA certified reviewer, Sir Aaron Neuwirth.  He gave it an overwhelming 5 doggies out of 5 doggies over here.  Truth be told he doesn’t hand out that kind of praise for a film very often.  In fact he even went as far as to call The Shape of Water a “Fantastical Masterwork,” my favorite movie review title he ever made.  His movie review was also tweeted like none other here on the site before even by the del Toro man himself.  If memory serves me correct, he had already seen this one three times before I got see it even once.  Therefore, that’s why I am here because like Aaron I loved this film and I’m honored to provide my take on this March 13th 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release.


I already spilled the beans up above that The Shape of Water is brought to you by master story teller, Guillermo del Toro, but what I didn’t tell you about yet is the fantastic cast that brings this tale to life.  It includes the likes of Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg and Doug Jones.  I don’t think I even need to embellish.  Those are some heavy hitting names.  Of course del Toro had some help in penning this screenplay set against the backdrop of a Cold War era America 1962.  That honor goes to scribe Vanessa Taylor.  One final thing to mention before we talk about the story here is the name of Stuhlbarg’s character here, Robert Hoffstetler.  I’m sorry, but every time I heard his name mentioned in this film I just thought of Leonard in The Big Bang Theory, but I digress because only fans of the show will get my yiddish humor (yiddish being another reference to a popular character on the show).

Our story here revolves around the character of Elisa Esposito (Hawkins).  She’s a mute.  Besides her caring co-worker, Zelda (Spencer), and her starving artist neighbor, Giles (Jenkins), Elisa spends most of her life/time in isolation.  I forgot to mention she conveniently also works in facilities at a high-security government laboratory I guess you could call it.  Her life is forever changed one day when she’s in the right place at the right time I guess you could say.  She witnesses a captured experiment so to speak brought into the laboratory and through a series of events she ultimately becomes responsible for the cleanliness of said room our creature of the hour here inhabits.  I think you know where I am going from here, but fret not it’s not all lovey-dovey as there are some nice surprises throughout not to mention some very welcomed humor and comedic moments (I’ll keep the Splash comparison video out of this review).

What it all comes down to here for me is the fact that The Shape of Water is an adult fantasy fairy tale brought to life.  I almost prefer to call it poetry in motion.  The story is a very simple one, but it’s execution is near flawless.  The cast, the chemistry of the onscreen characters, the threat, peril and even the comedy of it all just works.  There are certain emotional and story building sequences where I wish they could have hung on a bit longer to, but for the most part it’s hard to knock on this one.  Other than those aforementioned few personal quips, which I can’t go into because of spoiler territory, I have nothing negative to say about this one.  While it’s love story may not appeal to all moviegoers it’s definitely a testament to del Toro’s finely honed storytelling craft.

Now I’m not going to lie to you.  I have never been the biggest del Toro fan (but I do recognize his insane talent).  Yes I love Pacific Rim, but some of his recent horror entries were just blah to me not to mention the Hellboy series.  Oh how I dislike the Hellboy movies.  I won’t dismiss his earlier horror films, but here’s the deal ladies and gentlemen.  Believe the hype here.  The Shape of Water is simply irresistible at times.  Not once did I doze off or even blink.  My attention span was spent making sure I did not miss a second of this feature.  It’s visually striking and beautiful, romantic, comedic, threatening and heart-warming all in one single serving.  Best of all The Shape of Water never overstays its welcome either.  I don’t want to downplay this amazing cast either.  Shannon and Jenkins are always fantastic in everything I watch, but Octavia continues her hot streak and Sally Hawkins simply amazes as the unsuspecting, innocent looking mute who falls from a creature from the lagoon.  By the way, she’s anything but and the creature looks fantastic too.  I’m just saying.


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Fox’s Shape of Water.  The video presentation found on the 1080p Blu-ray Disc has originally been covered here.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • HDR: HDR10
  • Size: UHD-66
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Clarity/Detail: The Shape of Water looks amazing on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.   It was originally captured at 3.4K and finished in a 2K DI.  There is a great level of fine detail to be found in the sequences we visit here within this film. What impresses me the most outside of the normal elements we would normally comment on here are the textures from pores in stone/concrete and cracks in wall plaster to paint brush marks/scratches and the many intricate fabrics on display.  Even beads of water look like works of art in this one.  And I did not even mention the intricacies of the creature’s body.
  • Depth: There are plenty of moments where depth of field is on clearly display every which way you look throughout here.  It’s all thanks in part to the three-dimensional pop of everything here.  Nothing seems overly flat and every sequence just has this enthralling feeling of space to it all like Elisa’s apartment hallway to a rainy dock or even the movie theater she lives above.  There are simply no shortage of DOF examples to choose from here.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are deep, inky and above all thanks in part to the HDR natural.  There are lots of darkly lit scenes, nighttime sequences and shadowy moments. The contrast is exceptional like this one scene in particular that involves a neon scene and the way it illuminates the outside darkness and Elisa.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.
  • Color Reproduction: The Shape of Water does a splendid job with balancing color onscreen whether its intentional tones to characters and/or scenes or just overall the very natural and warm feeling to it all.
  • Flesh Tones: Skin tones look natural and authentic throughout.  Even the fish guy looks healthy with his own shade of green pigment.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Things are very clean in this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray transfer.  I utilized the 2016 launch Samsung 4K UHD player to play this one on.  I mention it because I did have two moments of judder during playback.  However, I don’t know if it was my player.  I need to try it out on my usual go-to 4K player the Sony X800.


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Fox’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of The Shape of Water.  You would think the 4K UHD Disc comes equipped with a Dolby Atmos surround track and that 1080P Blu-ray contains an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix.  However, you would be wrong.  Sadly there’s no Atmos here only DTS-HD MA, which kind of sucks because there’s some scenes that would have sounded great in Atmos.  The original critique of this DTS-HD MA track is covered in the Blu-ray review here.

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: The motion picture engulfs you within the beautiful, Oscar-winning score by Alexandre Desplat.  Both the score and sound effects offer the viewer a wide soundstage, which is both appealing and engaging.  Rears are not constantly sounding out, but all in all there’s quite a sense of immersion to be found here and I’m perfectly happy with things.  They sound very organic and natural.  Like I said up above I would have loved an Atmos track especially in the ending rain sequence or how you could audibly illustrate that Elisa lives up above a movie theater.
  • Low-Frequency Extension: Thanks to the sounds of thunder, gunshots and other big moments, you get some solid uses of the LFE channel here.  The hiss/roar of the creature and him pounding on the glass of his imprisoned chamber are the highlights for me.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: This one is really top heavy, but ambient sounds, certain sequences  and the score bring the rear channels to life here.  It’s a well balanced mix, but perhaps a little more rear immersion could have been included.  Truth be told though there are a lot of subtleties to be found here.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: As Aaron Neuwirth claims and I cannot say it better, “Every man, woman, and fish creature is heard loud and clear.”


There’s a nice collection of extras here, but let’s be real, Aaron Neiuwrith can’t imagine this being the last time we see a Blu-ray release for the Best Picture winner.  He exclaims that Criterion is a fan of del Toro, and the director loves putting together great commentaries and extras for his films. The features here are all basically EPK-type stuff, but according to Aaron we’ll surely get more in the future.  We also get the Digital Copy redemption code, which works in Movies Anywhere to enhance your viewing pleasure digitally in either iTunes 4K or in VUDU.  However, for now let’s take a closer look at everything you’ll find housed on the Blu-ray Disc here in ways of extras.  Sadly there are no extras housed on the 4K UHD Disc.

  • A Fairy Tale For Troubled Times (HD, 28:55)Here we have a 4-part spolier-heasvy, behind-the-scenes, EPK look at the making of the film, featuring interviews with the cast and crew. It’s divided into sections that dissect what went into the making of The Shape of Water, special effects, scoring, inspirations and more.  So essentially this is a worthwhile look at how it all came together.  The four parts are as listed below.
    • Love In An Age of War (HD, 5:49)
    • Summoning A Water God (HD, 9:58)
    • Shape, Form, and Function (HD, 9:41)
    • Aquatic Melodies (HD, 3:25)
  • Anatomy of a Scene: Prologue (HD, 3:14) – A look at how the opening sequence of the film was assembled. Del Toro provides a good explanation for why this was essential to the story and what it took to make it work.  It also includes storyboards.
  • Anatomy of a Scene: The Dance (HD, 4:50) – Here’s a look at a dream sequence in the film, with del Toro explaining why this was important for both characters and includes behind-the-scenes moments such as rehearsals.
  • Shaping the Waves: A Conversation with James Jean (HD, 5:05) – This featurette focuses on the man behind the images, specifically the illustrated poster, created for this film.
  • Guillermo del Toro’s Master Class (HD, 13:27) – Guillermo del Toro hosts a Q&A discussion of the film at the Zanuck Theater, with focus on the technical design. He is joined by some of his team and an audience happily on hand to listen.
  • Theatrical Trailers (HD, 6:55)


All in all I really this creature feature really got some love during this Awards Season.  It contains both a striking visual world it paints, and string performances that come to life from the rich adult fairytale.  This is one of del Toro’s finest and it deserved to be rewarded!  It’s like a Cold War version of Beauty and the Beast, albeit a more interesting one.  The best part about it is this one’s Rated R.  That means nothing’s off the table, nudity, gore, blood and F-bombs included.  How can you ask for anything more?  That’s rhetorical.  Surely there will be a double-dip one day, but for now it’s a no-brainer purchase and a surefire way to ensure more films like this to get made.  Enjoy!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


The Shape of Water

Flaunts Its Awards on

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray




The Shape of Water 4K Review


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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