Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thriller #2 - Jaws (1975)

Jaws is pretty awesome. It's another Stephen Spielberg movie (One of his firsts, actually) and it's about a shark. The shark is not named Jaws, no matter what anyone tries to tell you. The shark doesn't have a name. Because it's a shark. So this unnamed shark is attacking the beaches of Amity Island, a vacation town, which isn't really that weird, and later is specifically and repeatedly targeting a group of tree people in the middle of the ocean, which apparently is unusual, sharks not really having the brain power for that. Learn something new everyday, don't you. So the town sheriff and a marine biologist and...this one fisherman...go out into the ocean to hunt the shark - they're the aforementioned three people. The biologist is Richard Dreyfuss who is, I'm sure I don't need to tell you, awesome.

Jaws has grown on me since I first saw it. It's a very slow movie and the second act is very different than the first, and that threw me off at first, but looking back on it, I think I really like it. There were a couple of moments that really actually scared me, and the suspense was really good, and the characters are really great. I actually couldn't understand the grizzled old fisherman most of the time, which sort of made the plot a little hard to follow, but I think I did alright. There's this big scene near the end where he has a huge monologue, and I'm not really sure what it was about - something about sharks and trauma and Illinois - I don't know. But it's cool, I think it was only thematically important, not a big plot device.

I mentioned that the first act is way different than the second act, and it is. The first half of the movie is on the beach and a disaster movie with loads of characters and ethical questions, and the second half is three guys in the middle of the ocean with a mysterious force of evil. It's weird. It's like watching two very closely related movies, and I did not like it at first. However, I do think that it works. The more psychological part is much better as the ending, and the beginning established the horror and the threat of the shark. It's a good balance.

Now, I have heard a lot about how horrendously bad the shark is in this movie. A lot. It's really the only thing I knew about the movie before I watched it - The shark sucks. After all of the hype about it, I was expecting like a sock puppet or something, but the shark is not that bad. I mean, it is awful, yes. Bad shark puppet, that is. It really does not lot bad at all underwater in the dark for short periods of time, which is how they usually shoot it. It doesn't ruin the movie and it gives the impression that the shark is huge and terrifying. It does its job.

So to recap: Jaws: Good movie, now that I think about it. Richard Dreyfuss is awesome. Robert Shaw I can't understand. Roy Sheider is also awesome, even thought I didn't mention him earlier. I really enjoy the way he dramatically takes off his glasses. The shark is not as bad as people say it is. Now you know. It's definitely a classic for a reason, unlike The French Connection, which I cannot imagine anyone liking.

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