Jaws ★★★★

I don't think I've ever seen the entirety of Jaws in one sitting, so it was nice to finally do that. What I love about the movie pretty much remains the same, as do my gripes with it. It is an impressive feat of direction, especially considering how much of it was shot on location out on the water. I've heard the horror stories of how Spielberg was constantly threatened by the studios and almost fired from the project, how hard it was to get a shot without boats getting in the background, and the fact that they had a hell of a time getting the damn shark to work. For that alone, this is an impressive movie. What's also impressive is just how bad it could have been. Looking at the poster, you can imagine this being another dumb B-movie that came and went, but what we ended up with was the first real blockbuster that is still remembered today as one of the most iconic movies ever made, and I attribute a lot of that to Spielberg's skill behind the camera. The grand finale between Roy Scheider and the shark is probably my favorite moment, and the perfect combination of Spielberg's great direction and John Williams' incredible score.

At the same time, I've never loved this movie, and I think the reason why is that the pacing always feels a little off. I never get the sense of a slow-burn like I do with Jurassic Park, and the moments of excitement never match that of Spielberg's best. Perhaps I'm in the minority saying that Jurassic Park is better than Jaws, but I really think that it is, and the entertainment in that movie is elevated in a way it never is here. I like the character work, I like the finale, and for a shark thriller, this is probably about the best you can do. But I do think Spielberg has done better, and, while this and Duel show off his strength at pure thrillers, his later films were better paced and more special, at least for me. But this of course is not to say that I don't get a thrill every time I watch this, especially watching it with my brother, whose face lights up with pure joy every time that shark shows up. This is pure cinema, and succeeds accordingly.

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