Saturday, May 19, 2012

Golden Title: Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975)
starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss

Typical sex=death formula
Daybreak, a young woman had left a party on the beach in favor of skinny dipping into the open waters of New England's Amity Island. Her boyfriend playfully, yet in drunkenness, follows her until he passes out, leaving his gal to go into the waters alone. But a simple tug, and a sharp pain, had her viciously thrashed back and forth into her death.

Amity's police chief, Martin Brody and Deputy Hendricks later finds her remains on the beach, easily regarded as a shark attack. In hopes of preventing any further attacks, Brody asks Mayor Larry Vaughan to close the beaches until they got the waters cleared, a suggestion overruled in favor of tourist income from the upcoming Fourth of July and dismissed the death as a boating accident. But it wasn't for a moment when another shark attack occurs, this time taking the life of a young boy, the film's most gutsy scene, which enraged the mother into staking a bounty for the animal.

The bounty attracted hunters, including one professional shark hunter Quint, and forced marine biologist Matt Hooper to re-examines the early victim's remains and unarguably concludes that it was a shark attack, not a boat accident, that killed her. When a shark was caught by the hunters, the town felt relief believing this was the shark that killed the young boy, though Hooper begged to differ. After being refused to do an open autopsy of the shark, Hooper asked for the aid of Brody to take the shark's remains and found out that the shark hadn't eaten any human remains. A spotted shipwreck with a larger bite mark was found later, indicating an altogether different animal from what was caught earlier.

As the Fourth of July came, another shark attack estuaries, killing a man and left Brody's son, a witness, in shock. Seeing that the shark problem had gone too far out of hand, Vaughan was persuaded to agree in hiring Quint to catch the shark, who in turn reluctantly had Hooper and Brody tagged along to help him in his vessel, the Orca, with the chum line and hooks.

After repeated brief attacks from the shark in early encounters, it all leads to the very day the shark decided to rear its raw nature at them. After a long chase, Quint harpoons a barrel to the shark and had it tied to the stern, but the shark drags the boat backward, breaking water unto the deck and flooding the engine. But in an attempt to suffocate the shark in shallow waters, Quint overstalls the boat.

Now stuck in the middle of the ocean with a shark waiting to eat them, the group attempted to spear the shark with a hypothermic spear filled with strychnine, inside a shark-proof cage but failed when the animal unexpectedly attacked and forced Hooper, who volunteers, to drop the spear. Hooper managed to escape  to safety, leaving Quint and Brody to face the animal when it leaps to the boat's transom. The attack tipped the boat and slid Quint straight into the shark's maw, eating him. Now alone, Brody took one last shot to kill the savage; finding a pressurized scuba tank, he managed to shove it into the shark's mouth and aimed at it with Quint's rifle. Climbing to the sinking ship's mast, he took a clear shot to the tank, which explodes and blew the animal's head to pieces.

Bigger boat? How about Bigger GUNS?
Now with the shark dead, Brody, and a surviving Hooper emerges, to paddle back to Amity Island, both had faced their fears and shortcomings, as seagulls begin to flock on the shark's corpse, pecking at the once great beast.

Jaws is the movie that made Steven Spielberg's directorial career after his cult fave Duel, showing how much of a phenomenally skillful and artful director he is. The changes from the novel actually seems wise enough to entertain his audience; taking the novel's primary plot and did all the necessary tweaks and timing to make his movie all the enjoyable.

Based on Peter Benchley's bestselling novel, which arguably darker in comparison to the film, Jaws can be best described as a movie of two halves, which mainly be the reason, too, why Jaws happens to be a fitting review here; the first half is where the gruesome turns had its fill. One at a time, innocent people are munched alive by a preying shark, dubbed "Bruce" in production, in a manner not to different from this blog's main entre', the slashers. The shark's repeated attacks added notoriety, as well as class, brought flair in the film's construction as it slowly evolves into an ocean adventure that is the second half, wherein the masculinity of the three men are put to the test. (Brody's fear of drowning, Hooper's inexperience with water)

As far as it is going for as a thriller, Jaws's build for suspense is a high note that had brought success to it; the film's famous score, for one, had acted as a suspenseful doomsayer on its own of sorts, warning the viewers of the approaching danger that is the animal. Attentive viewers would notice that, during the prank scene, the motif is absent, hinting that the danger is far from it, but devilishly turning as yet another man is killed no soon after the prank. The theme is widely recognized as a raw-natured, yet wildly provocative tune.  Other than that, due to some budget restrains, the shark had enough time to be openly present around the bridge to the second half, spending most of its time around the first half visually obscured through point-of-view shots underwater, as well as violent flails of the attacked, tapping sorts of primal fears of the unseen and the unstoppable. It is terrifying without the need of visceral effects and delightfully entertaining without the need of hammy one-liners. (though "We're gonna need a bigger boat" is catchy as it is) More to add the effectiveness of the climax where the trio had to face the shark.

Hooper and Quint
The three main men of the film are a likable bunch; Roy Scheider took the role of  Brody as a everday everyman, who finds himself in an extraordinary predicament, forced to fend off his fears to rises to the occasion. Dreyfuss as Hooper had his character as brash enough for a scientist to not come off as wimpy or as self-righteous as he was in the original novel, a change I'm more than happy to see on the big screen as he changed from antagonist to Brody's trusted friend, the very backbone of the movie. Lastly, we have Robert Shaw's Quint, one of the most memorable modern-day Ahab, whose background as a survivor from a sinking USS Indianapolis warship during the War in the Pacific in 1945, making him a foe most formidable against ole' "Bruce".

I like to see Jaws as a film best fitting my taste for high class movies meet my taste for bodycount horror, just as Psycho or Dressed To Kill did. Stephen Spielberg sure had a long way since his mega-success today; with a mega franchising, the film had stray much away from the modern day Moby Dick story in its sequels, theme park rides and yes, the merchandising; its legacy as a Summer blockbuster horror flick that warped a simple story to a cultural phenomenon is a tad too big to not be impressed about, bringing that much fear to the waters as Psycho did to warm showers.
Speaking of showers...cover up, man!
1 female ravaged by shark
1 bot eaten by shark
1 shark speared to death
1 male found dead underwater
1 male ravaged by shark
1 male bitten in half by shark
1 shark had its head blown off by a shot air tank
total: 7


  1. One of the All Time Greats - and a fine overview sir! I also much prefer the movie to the novel. Of the sequels, I kinda like 2; I enjoy 3 for the 3-D and the disaster movie feel; and then there's 4, for which I am embarrassed for the filmmakers. I love your final picture - did you know that old guy is commemorated in a TV production company animated logo? The company is Bad Hat Harry Productions - and you should search out the little cartoon logo because it's really funny!

    1. I knew there's something off about that old guy! XD Thanks for the info, mate! I'll look it up!

  2. I LOVE Shark movies and Jaws really is the best. Nothing has ever been able to fully imitate what made this movie so good. The fact that you don't get to see the Shark until much later makes it a great horror film - the characters are all likable and well developed. What makes Jaws such a great movie is that it's about a lot more than just a shark eating people. Great review!!

  3. A golden oldie super-classic. Best Shark movie of all time and next to "Duel", Spielberg greatest genre movie. I love it!

  4. Still one of the scariest horror movies of all time and most probably THE scariest horror movie of all time, lol. JAWS is about as close to perfection as you're gonna get.

    1. I actually don't find it scary, but it is entertaining as heck!