This movie still blows me away (not unlike a certain 25-foot Great White got blown) and I am super surprised. I knew it was good, but I didn’t remember it being THIS good. Like A+ level good. Steven Spielberg, while young, was already on his game.
It’s hard to hold the title of First Ever Blockbuster. And it’s harder even to look back since 1975 and agree that such an “old” film holds up to our current movie-going standards.Remember, suspense-horror-action fans, it’s what you don’t see that’s the best kind of scare. Alien did it. Recently the very good A Quiet Place did this perfectly.
This review is going to have some spoilers, since it’s been a while since the 70s, but even people who missed Jaws the first time pretty much knows most of the plot, just via pop culture osmosis.
The gore is surprisingly low key. There are two distinct grisly moments, and one of those is a jump scare. (That would be the one-eyed human head under the boat). And the only real icky scene is the real early one, where the naked girl’s remains are a bloody lump chewed on by a seething mass of crabs. It’s a quick scene, and you get more visceral punch from the random police man who found her: he’s so squicked out he can ‘t watch, stand, or even be near her. You can practically smell it.
The less you see of ol’ Jaws as he swims by or attacks, the better he looks. He’s got one or two raggedly bad side shots that don’t even look like a living animal, and since the actors/crew knew it, they kept him mostly head on, where it was mostly the big bloody jaw coming at you.
But. Then. The audience really lucked out. Now we’re talking about the human actors – the big three. It works, and works fabulously. You know who they are. These are three very different characters, who come together and make you sit forward, avidly watching each moment build, smiling as they compare scars, shiver in suspense and play upon what came before. When the stricnine laces needle falls useless to the ocean floor, and the shark cage is is shattters, you’d do just what Hopper did – lie still under some flotsam and ride it out. Recall that the shark responds to prey-like ‘fear’ moments. Back on what left of the ship “Orca” (a great joke if you know your man-eaters), Brody has one trick left, and isn’t looking like he’s going to survive this. However, the magic of subtle foreshadowing saves the day in a way this simply makes sense. It’s not a last minute Hail Mary – this has been baked in from early on, if you paid attention. The resolution is incredibly satisfying.The fine acting of characters Brody, Quint, and Hooper elevate what could have been just another sensational summer disaster film into the stratosphere of real greatness.
And you know what else? THIS MOVIE IS INCREDIBLY FUNNY! I don’t think childhood “me” thought it was funny (I thought it was scary, even though the iconic Musial Shark Cue gave me most of those shivers).
But in this viewing, if I wasn’t gripped by a scene, I was laughing. And sometimes I was gripped AND laughing. This is frakking good storytelling.
And the ending is so completely satisfying that you walk out with a big old smile. I even sat through the entire credits, just to see Brody and Hooper actually make it, with those barrels, back safely the shore. Then I could breathe again and turn the laptop off. I haven’t felt so excited and satisfied by an monster action movie since Pitch Black or Aliens.
Something really fun and totally unplanned: there’s a heat wave going on in So Cal, and I’ve been swimming in the pool daily. To the point where I wan’t going to dry out for movie watching…and yeah, I swam and paddled through my entire Jaws rewatch, laptop on the edge of the pool. This wasn’t planned. By the time I realized it, I was glad it was a pool, and not, you now, the ocean. Although I love the ocean and no frelling fish is going to keep me out of it. I just thought it was an interesting juxtaposition.
Did I bother to watch the sequels? Good question. In a word: No.
Want to hear some crazy stats from the Jaws franchise? Rotten Tomatoes gives 1975 Jaws a coveted 97% score. For a film in an ear of public smoking and casually sexist behaviors, that’s pretty awesome. But then the critic scores drop down FAST:
Jaws 2 – 57% (Meaning more than half of the reviews think it’s worth a shot – like a B- or C+)
Jaws 3 – 41% (Meaning “meh”…see it at home if you can’t get enough sharks chomping swimmers)
Jaw 4: The Revenge – 0% GOOSE EGG. It’s in fine company with several John Travolta movies (see even recently: Gotti gets the Goose). But the ZERO is way more than enough to sink the shark and his brethren for decades. Only weird franchises like Sharknado returned to this well, and as far as I know (I haven’t seen them), they are mostly a joke, like Snakes On A Plane. You let me know about those Sharknados, k?
Then we had the Mosasaurs from Jurassic World, which was an exciting, gigantic super sea lizard from the time of the dinosuars that used the Great White Shark like a feeding minnow. A greatly realized creature, but not the star of the show. (That honor goes to Owen’s Raptors and our old, scarred T-Rex friend.)
And now….we have The Meg: all about an ancient, titanic sea shark the size of a cruise ship. We’re covering the science of Megalodon, the Mosasaurus, and the Great While on RunPee.com for you geeky enjoyment! Those will be live tomorrow, and Dan’s having a lot of fun with them.
This Jaws Twitter Poll is still ongoing for two days, to be finished Friday when The Meg comes out. You can still vote right now (or add your own best Jaws quote) on Twitter at RunPee:
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Also, “I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass!” In honor of #TheMeg, we’re doing a #Jaws rewatch. What is the best other quote, from the first ever genuine #Blockbuster?
Completed Poll will post here on Friday
— RunPee (@RunPee) August 7, 2018
Movie Grade: A+
About the Peetimes: “The Meg” inspired us (Dan, Jill, and RunPee Mom) to do a rewatch of the classic JAWS and add Peetimes for it. (Just for fun.) We even recorded a podcast of our discussion about which Peetimes we would select. To sum: With a perfectly made film like this, finding Peetimes was easy and a joy. We always maintain that a well made film has both times of excitement, and times to recover. The movie builds on these solid principles.
Related: (Links will be added as each post is completed)
Movie Review — The Meg
Best Quotes from Jaws (1979)
RunPee Podcast: How Dearest, Jilly, and Dan compare their Peetimes for Jaws!
Last bit of fun! Enjoy the Jaws theme to raise the hackles on your neck…..