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Movie Review | Jaws


Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) just got a little closer to the shark than he would've liked in Jaws
 

Movie summary: When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach resort, it's up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down. (IMDb)


It’s going to be a bit difficult to come up with something new about this one, isn’t it? What more can be said about a movie that’s only a few years away from turning fifty? The answer is pretty simple: Nothing. There is nothing new I can say about Jaws, other than to state that it’s one of my favourite films ever.


And I don’t have many cast-iron ‘favourite’ films, with a lot depending on what mood I’m in. Jaws is one of those rare movies that I can happily watch at pretty much any time and enjoy it regardless. It’s an absolute masterpiece of a film from Steven Spielberg and I love it.


I honestly don’t think that Jaws gets the respect it deserves outside of those whose primary interest is movies. To general audiences, it’s a ‘monster’/horror movie and little more, although a lot of this reputation can be blamed on the movies that followed it.


Quite why there were ever any sequels is beyond me; how was any follow-up possibly going to look good compared to the original? This is Spielberg at his best – and Jaws is certainly my favourite of his films – and most directors can’t even come close ‘lesser’ Spielberg like The Post.


Saying that, he was helped a lot here by the prop shark (known as Bruce) not working properly and Spielberg having to re-work the film to keep it off-screen as much as possible. Surely a movie that had it’s predatory headline feature unable to be on-screen would fail?


Nope. The absence of the shark simply ratchets up the tension as the audience waits for it to strike next, almost putting us in the shoes of the residents of Amity Island, holding our breath as we wait for the next attack – although the audience at least has the comfort of knowing that the shark isn’t real.


Also, the fact that the headline act doesn't really play that much of a part means that we get to spend more time with the wonderful cast playing fantastic characters. And it's precisely because we spend so much time getting to know them that we genuinely worry about their fates when facing the shark.


Roy Scheider is great as Chief Brody, struggling to do his best to keep both his family and the people of the town safe, but being overruled. Scheider is a perfect audience avatar, having entirely realistic and convincing reactions to the drama unfolding around him.


Richard Dreyfuss is equally good as Matt Hooper, a marine life expert who has come to study the creature. In lesser movies, this character would simply be an out-of-touch stereotypical 'geek', but Hooper is not only smart, but funny and with plenty of fight in him.


Both Brody and Hooper need that fight to deal with Robert Shaw's Quint. He's abrasive, but simply has no time for sentiment and views hunting the shark as little more than a job to be done and getting paid what the endeavour was worth.

Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) fights off the deadly great white shark in Jaws

The interactions between all three is great, with them each something in common with each other, and something that annoys them about each other too. It's such a perfect balancing act between the trio that culminates in one of the best drinking scenes ever when out on the sea.


The supporting cast are all brilliant as well, although I will admit its now difficult for me to really judge just how good they are. I've seen Jaws so many times that they almost feel like old acquaintances and anyone else in the role would just be wrong.


Special mentions have to go to Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody and Murray Hamilton as the Mayor of Amity Island. They're unquestionably supporting characters, but are given such life by the performers that they become an integral part to the experience.


Ellen provides an extra layer to Brody that Hooper and Quint lack, but this isn't to say that she's just there as a support for a male character - she's the strength that keeps him going when things are getting him down and also gets a couple of moments of her own to shine too.


As for the music, I'm sure that almost everyone on the planet recognises that theme. In fact, I'm pretty sure most would recognise it from the first two notes, it's that iconic. It's used so well, and in a number of variations that keep it from becoming too familiar, while also providing the film with a distinct audio identity.


I'm going to stop writing about Jaws here (well, in a couple of paragraphs anyway) because it would be very easy for me to just go through every character and every scene listing what I love about this movie - and it would end up even longer than how much I wrote about Avengers: Infinity War.


Jaws is a classic movie that genuinely lives up to that tag. I simply can't think of any way to improve on what we see and hear in the film already. It has drama, it has humour, there are shocks and surprises, constantly increasing tension and is simply perfect from start to finish.

[10/10]

 

Why a 10/10? If what I wrote in that last paragraph wasn't enough, then it's worth repeating that there really isn't anything in Jaws that I think can be improved on in any way. If you were to change any single moment, line, or actor then it would instantly feel like a lesser movie.


Jaws was one of those moments when the stars aligned to create movie magic - and the master magician here was Steven Spielberg. The issues with the shark and how it was worked around to create something this incredible is just masterful on his part and would have cemented him as a movie legend even if he'd never made another film.

 
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