You gotta go see: Jaws
You've just gotta go see this...
There are certain movies that, in the course of your life, you will come back to. For me, those movies are dominated by two directors, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
Jaws is one of those movies that I come back to every five years or so to refill my "wow" tanks. I saw Jaws recentlyon Blu-ray and my "wow" tanks are overflowing.
Jaws, based on the novel by Peter Benchley, is the inspiring tale of a Great White Shark who has staked his territorial claim on the waters surrounding Amity Island, where the townsfolk depend on the summer tourist trade for their dollars. The season has arrived and the tourists are coming but the shark has already claimed its first victim, in the first five minutes of the film, a drunken skinny dipping hippie chick.
Roy Scheider plays Martin Brody, the former New York cop become sheriff, who hates boats and has no idea what he is up against. The girl's remains wash up on the beach, an arm sticking out of the sand amidst a small mound of human hungry crabs and Brody is quick to close the beach to prevent more carnage.
But the good sheriff's best efforts are thwarted at every turn by the stupidity and stubbornness of the local authorities who are only concerned with the money the town will lose if word gets out that there "may" be killer shark on the loose. For a while there you don't know which is scarier, the shark or the small island's bureaucracy!
It takes almost four victims before the mayor admits they have a real problem on their hands, and so Brody, an oceanographer named Hooper (Richard Dreyfus) and Quint, the mysterious sea captain played by the late Robert Shaw, set out on a journey into a watery hell to catch the dreaded hungry Jaws of the deep.
When writing a film review there is one thing you must never do, never simply say, "I loved this movie, it was great." Well, stuff it, I loved this movie, it was great!
CGI has spoiled anyone unfortunate to be born after the 80s. Plot, character development and dialogue have all, on most occasions, been sacrificed on the altar of great visual effects. Just look at Avatar, heck just look at the new Star Wars Trilogy!
Ok, obviously this is not always true, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy has proved that you can still tell a good story even though some of the characters aren't really there, but back in the olden days, before a computer program could make anything from nothing, a good film relied on its director and its actors to convince their audience that the animatronic shark was real.
Spielberg does this by painstakingly ensuring that you don't see the whole shark for most of the film, and when you do it's blurred by enough water to hide the fact that under the boat was 25 feet of prosthetics.
The way the actors interact with the fake animal is also important, the shark's first course in the beginning of the movie, the nude hippie, is so convincingly eaten by nothing that you're convinced she was killed by something.
when Richard Dreyfus puts on his diving suit in the middle of the night to get a closer look at a partially submerged boat and manages to scream like a little girl under water when a mutilated corpse floats out of the bite hole under the boat, you're begging him to get out of the water! Again, there's no shark in this scene, just the idea of one.
Even more terrifying is the yellow lilo scene where a great day at the beach is interrupted by the sudden appearance of fins behind a boy on a lilo. Next thing you know, there's no boy, but there sure is a lot of blood and scores of children splashing to safety. Suddenly, silence as everyone looks back at the now empty water and the mother of the eaten boy moves to the front calling his name, the only answer to her plea being a deflated shredded yellow lilo lapping at the shore. Bone chilling stuff but still, there's hardly any shark in this scene, mainly the idea of one.
I mentioned earlier about coming back to films from your past, well, this time round I watched the film as a father and the horror of it all was completely new to me, from the boy lost in the previous paragraph to the sheriff's son's brief brush with the shark. Suddenly the film feels less like the slasher-like movie I once thought it was to having more in common with Liam Neeson's Taken, where a Dad will stop at nothing to save his kids.
Finallym I simply loved the fact that at the end of it all this was just a great story. There were no hidden analogies, no political agendas, no political correctness, no environmentalist propaganda, just a darn hungry shark. Heck, the shark didn't even need a reason to be hungry, he didn't have to be genetically engineered and he wasn't punishing Amity for not paying their carbon tax either, he was just a scum-bag of a shark who needed a swift bullet to an oxygen tank in his mouth. I loved that.
I give this film a nine out of 10 because I'm going to watch it again and again and again at five year intervals throughout the rest of my life, and each time I see that shark get what's coming to him I'll get that sense of satisfaction a man is supposed to have when a desperate sheriff says, "We're going to need a bigger boat!"
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