A woman goes missing at a beach and her body washes up on shore the next day. Was it a shark attack, a boat strike, or something else? If you’re thinking about watching 1975’s “Jaws” I’m sure you already know. If you don’t know, it’s a shark attack. “Jaws” takes place on and around the tourist community Amity Island where the new Chief of Police struggles to deal with a dangerous shark in waters around the island. The plot is pretty simple, but there is a reason that “Jaws” has stuck around for over forty years; it’s a great movie.
Jaws has excellent cinematography that places you there, sometimes in a disturbing way. The tension of the film continuously builds around the realistic characters. Even when we know the characters are making the wrong choice we can understand why. Now don’t get the idea that this is some action filled shark chase adventure. It’s really not. There are some action moments, but that’s not what the film is about. “Jaws” is about people. People with different backgrounds and experience trying to do what’s best in a bad situation. That’s why people still watch “Jaws”. It’s not the amazing shark. Whenever you see a shark, you’re reminded of how old this movie is. It’s not terrible, and was probably pretty impressive in 1975, but it’s not great now. I’ve never stared down the gullet of a real shark, but I’m sure they didn’t quite nail it.
Now if it weren’t for the soundtrack, “Jaws” would be a borefest. John Williams score is implemented to near perfection. Building tension and emotion and then silence leaving a sickening feeling of dread. Even if you’ve never seen “Jaws” you’ve heard it. It’s probably a bit of a shame this movie has been parodied so much, because it surely diminishes the impact for first time viewers of the real deal original. Conjuring images of a shark searching for Hostess cakes and asking about cream filling doesn’t exactly fit the tone of a thriller.
I hope you’re not surprised to hear “Jaws” has several violent scenes, some of them quite brutal. The reality of the violence makes it more severe than fantasy movies often are. Course language, cigarettes, and alcohol are scattered throughout. Other than a woman briefly skinny dipping in the dark, the nudity is limited to swimwear and there are very few sexual references. If you are responsible for dealing with a potential viewers nightmares, don’t let them watch “Jaws”.
If you are concerned about swimming in the ocean, don’t watch “Jaws”. It won’t help. I suspect it was more of an edge of your seat thriller when it released, but “Jaws” is a great movie still today. Well structured and masterfully executed I give it a 7/10. It’s score is pulled down from an 8 by violence and other negative attributes.
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