Jaws (1975)

When a killer shark stalks and brings chaos to a resort town, it is up to a sheriff, marine biologist, and a sea captain to hunt it down.

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton

MPAA Rating: PG for language and intense moments

Fun Fact: Charlton Heston was considered for the role of Brody. Steven Spielberg decided against it because he felt that Heston had too many roles as the hero and the shark would not have a chance against him.

Jaws terrified audiences when released in 1975. Based off of the novel with the same name, it became a sensation that led to many forms of media including a theme park ride at Universal Studios. It helped launch the career of director Steven Spielberg and the tag line “stay out of the water” became a memorable phrase in pop culture as well. Jaws also helped define the summer blockbuster and since it is summertime why not give it a go?

As a film, Jaws is film making perfection and still holds up today in the suspense and thriller genre. John Williams’ score brings out the best of it. We all know of the classic and legendary theme music when we hear it. When the music hits you know something big is going to happen. It also gives you edge of your seat moments and white-knuckle tension as something bad is going to happen. The opening scene is both memorable and haunting as at first you question what is attacking her. Of course, you know it is a shark, but you do no know how big it is. Spielberg effectively directs this tension by not showing us what is attacking people. Spielberg relies on the viewers imagination and the music by John Williams to create that tension and bring us the thrills that we are seeking. Another thing that keeps the film going is how well paced it is. There is always something going on to keep the viewer interested by a script that has well written dialogue to the action on screen. There is never a dull moment going on through the two hours.

Casting is key in a movie like this and the cast is perfect to say the least. Roy Scheider is fantastic as Martin Brody. Brody is a guy that some might view as too radical is wanting to close the beaches to keep people safe. Murray Hamilton, who plays the mayor is critical in what Brody wants to do. This tension plays off perfectly that has some devastating results. Richard Dreyfuss portrays marine biologist Matt Hooper, who has great chemistry with Scheider’s character. Throw in Robert Shaw as Quint, the sea captain and you get a big three of characters that you are hoping they succeed in their quest. The neat thing about Brody, Hooper, and Quint is that they all have different personalities. Quint is aggressive and obsessive in wanting to get the shark, Brody is more cautious and wants to go the safe route, and Hooper is the voice of reason. All of these personalities blend together well. I also give praise to Lorraine Gary as Brody’s wife. With the scenes they have together they have good chemistry. I have to give credit to Peter Benchley who wrote the novel, and Carl Gottlieb, who worked on the script. Both of them brought these characters to life.

The quality of the film heightened with beautiful and creative cinematography shots. The filming locations are beautiful, and it makes me want to visit an island town like that. When underwater we get first person view shots like we are the shark ourselves. When many people are in the water, it is like the shark is picking and choosing who it is going to attack next. It brings extra creative shots to the film.

Another thing I have to give praise is the special effects. Back in 1975 there was no CGI so practical effects was the way to go. I am a sucker for practical effects, so I have fun with this one every time I watch it. When the shark is on screen it steals the show. While the second half of the film does not have the amazing tension that the first half does, it is still pulled off well. We still get some fantastic scenes, but in a different way compared to the first half.

Overall, Jaws is one of the greatest films ever made. To me it is film making perfection at its best and it is set up to give us a thrill ride for the ages. Steven Spielberg helped create the summer blockbuster through this film and it became a pop culture phenomenon. We get a beautifully written script from great source material with top notch acting. The acting is at its A-game with perfect casting. The music is legendary, and John Williams helped bring the tension to life through his music. We also get creative cinematography and beautiful shots of the island town and ocean. If you want the perfect summer film, I suggest you check this one out if you have not seen it yet. It has everything that you want in a film: tension, suspense, action, and thrills. Just remember to stay out of the water.

Overall: Hit

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