Released 06/20/1975 Rated: PG
I was shown this movie in preparation for our family trip and first time to Universal Studios Orlando, FL one summer. Obviously I wasn’t in love with it at the time, but I can appreciate it now. The ride was pretty cool, and I hate that it’s gone now, but I’ll take Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley any day.
I love it when a film is made awesome by the struggles production saw on set; had things gone according to the original plan, a very different movie would have been released. For instance: Shirley Temple starring in The Wizard of Oz (which wouldn’t have given us “Over the Rainbow”), or in this case, the animatronic shark actually working from day one. Originally, the plan was to have the shark in the opening to the film, but in the making-of documentary on the DVD, I believe Spielberg says “…there would have been nothing primal about it. It would have been just a monster moment that we’ve all seen. It wouldn’t trigger our imaginations.”
This is what Hollywood needs to remember in making today’s films. When the viewers can’t see something, they fill in the blank in their heads, doing a better job of freaking them out instead of anything you could possibly show on screen. You wanna know why you don’t see Baby Doll’s dance in Sucker Punch? Because what’s sexy to one person may not be to another, and by not showing it, your brain takes over to make those scenes work for you. Take a look at the Alien Covenant trailer. We’ve now seen a Xenomorph in broad daylight. The mystery and fright are now gone.
This film may be old and the effects outdated, but despite it’s flaws, it’s a classic. Had it turned out any other way, it probably would have been a forgettable monster flick. Jaws scared the pants off of people in the 70s.
Released 06/16/1978 Rated: PG
The second installment may be the worst film I’ve ever sat through. It’s possible I’ve seen worse, and my brain has thankfully blotted it from memory, but it’s going to be hard to find a worse movie than Jaws 2 in literally any way. I don’t think I can find a single redeemable quality in it.
So my guess is that they wanted to remake the first movie, except switch the target audience toward teens. And they tried it, without adequately blending the two, so it’s this weird half teen-flick, half Jaws, without any of the mystery or Spielberg-charm from the first film. There are too many filler shots of people on the beach, film development, and sail boats; lots…and lots of sailboats. None of the teens can act, as proof of the awkwardly delivered and flat dialogue. There’s no buildup per shark attack, which is what made Jaws. And this shark must be on steroids or something because it’s eating boats and helicopters!
Released 07/22/1983 Rated: PG
Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such horrendous 3D images before. I mean, I’m watching this movie home alone, in the dark, sending my husband screen shots of just how bad this is. I watched 2 and 3 back to back, and thank heaven the acting and story got so much better with this installment because I don’t think I could have taken it otherwise.
Atrocious CGI aside, I really enjoyed this movie. There isn’t much of the shark, though. They hit a little too late in the film that the shark they caught and has died in captivity is actually a baby, which means that mom is somewhere in the park. Kay just blurts this out after she’s made the connection internally, and then Mama shark appears, and the viewers are whisked into the action, and don’t have time to process what’s going on. You would think with all these marine biologists around, they at least would realize this when they first catch the shark, but they’re so busy trying to keep it alive that they don’t think about it. I like it, though; it’s not half bad.
Jaws: The Revenge
Released 07/17/1987 Rated: PG-13
I don’t even know how I should feel about this one. On the one hand, I like how we’ve kept up with the same family throughout all four films; on the other, I feel we’re back in the unbelievable waters of what we’re supposed to buy from the second film. Ellen Brody is having premonitions about a shark coming for her family. She’s had an unusual number of sharks to deal with over the years, I can see why she’d start freaking out, but to actually have a shark that is specifically targeting the Brody’s is too unrealistic, especially when every shark in each movie has died. Also, this shark is back to eating boats.
The attacks this time around are from the shark’s point of view, which is a cool tactic, but in my opinion is a bit disorienting for the viewers. It’s like reading a book written in third person, only to have the action scenes switch to first person perspective from a character you’ve never interacted with. Because they do this, each attack is shot in extreme close-up and is very choppy and difficult to understand what’s going on. I suspect this is a maneuver on the filmmakers part to build the suspense by not seeing the shark until the end of the film.
They didn’t build the tension very well throughout this movie, so it somewhat feels like two films meshed together (though not as obvious as the second installment) and the ending is almost anticlimactic. All of a sudden they’re fighting the shark and then it’s over.
It’s funny. About a week or so after I finished watching all four of these movies (which I binged because they were leaving Netflix), my friend came over and we pushed through the end of the show Pushing Daisies, and the very last episode of the second season has a synchronized swimmer eaten by a shark during a performance in a water park. And it unnerved me just a bit due to the proximity of me watching all four Jaws films. What are the odds?