Jaws

Jaws ★★★★½

The 1970's were a great decade for movies, especially thrillers and horror movies. You have Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ridley Scott's Alien, and of course Steven Spielberg's Jaws. Jaws is almost a perfect film in my opinion. From its iconic opening shot to its iconic final shot, it's the epitome of a well executed film and established the paradigm of the summer blockbuster. There's so much I love about this film, but I'll start by mentioning the one thing that hurts it a little and keeps me from giving it that last half a star.

Most of the first act is repetitive and cheesy, and is a little slow. It contains the weakest pacing of the film and is overall the film's weakest point. Also, the mayor. AAAGGGHHH he is so frustratingly terrible! I know that's the point of his character though, so that's not a weakness. Things start to pick up with the attack on the 4th of July, and once Brody and Hooper are on the boat, this film really truly starts to shine. The pacing from here to the climax and conclusion is absolutely perfect. There's so much subtle build up, accompanied by John Williams's magnificent score and you really start to understand the characters and become attached to them. The casting for Jaws is truly exquisite. Roy Schneider, Richard Dreyfus, and Robert Shaw play their respective characters with masterful prowess. Robert Shaw is really the star though. Captain Quint is one of my all time favorite characters in cinema. He's so visceral and driven, but at the same time I've always found him hilarious. The fact that half of his lines are completely unintelligible just adds so much color to an already wildly colorful character. But despite all his laughable moments, his USS Indianapolis monologue is one of the best scenes in the film and incredibly effective.

The shark itself is a wonderful character as well, truly terrifying and impressive. One of my favorite aspects of Jaws is the fact that we don't even see the shark until halfway through the film. This just adds an extra layer of suspense, which is something this film has in spades. The use of the floating barrels is an ingenious plot device used to show where the shark is without showing the shark. The fact that Spielberg managed to pull this film off despite the production nightmare that was the making of Jaws is a testament to his skill as a filmmaker. All the technical issues Spielberg faced ended up being a blessing in disguise, with his improvisations becoming huge aspects of what makes Jaws such a masterpiece. It's more than just a monster movie, it's a story of the relationships between the characters as tensions rise in what quickly becomes a life or death situation, and how the characters interact with each other and with the shark. It's also a story of vengeance, in more ways than one, and one of the best told vendetta stories in cinema history.

Jaws is one of those films that never gets old, no matter how many times you see it. The effect hasn't lessened over time, at least not for me, and I always feel the same sense of wonder and excitement every time I watch it. It's a near perfectly executed film, despite a slow first act, and one that continues to withstand the test of time. It's a masterpiece, and I'm not just throwing that word around.

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