Larry’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wassup 300th Review
I feel like it was only yesterday that I was writing my 200th review on Apocalypse Now. 100 reviews between now and then? Planning my milestones out with watching my favorite films?
Sheeeeeit. What the Hell is wrong with me? What have I become?
But enough about me. I watched my second favorite film of all time last night! For about the 6 millionth time, of course. There are a lot of great films out there, and some that are more than great. There are also films out there that somehow manage to be unarguably and unanimously agreed to be perfect. There is one perfect film out there that you might not think of immediately. A perfect film that glides under the radar like a great white shark....
That perfect film is of course Jaws.
The film is a simple setup done to a near flawless degree. A man is forced to stand up for his small but lively community against a rogue great white shark. Wait. Why am I explaining the plot to Jaws? If you don't know the plot to Jaws I think you're on the wrong website. From its incredibly simple but effective man vs. nature setup, the film effectively becomes an amazing horror film. The shark is a mysterious and largely unstoppable force that picks characters off one by one until having the inevitable showdown with the protagonist at the end. The relationship between the shark and Brody is not entirely unlike the relationship between Michael Myers/Jamie Lee Curtis and Freddy/Nancy. But where Jaws differs from those films is Brody's amazing character development and stakes, and of course the monster stalking him from beneath the waters. The villain here isn't a ghost or a demon, but its something that you might see at a zoo. Its an animal that may or may not be lurking off in the distance the next time you're at a beach. The real threat paired with the charming practical effects make the shark one of the most consistently impressive and amusing movie monsters for Brody to do battle with. But he isn't alone.
The bustling community of Amity has his back and eventually a trio of shark hunters is one the scene. Each character adds something to plate and it compliments one another. Brody has a perfect wife and family, but is afraid of water. He is a flawed hero. He is also a man of authority so he has to become an extension of the community, therefore becomes an "Everyman" type hero. Matt Hooper, (the awesome Richard Dreyfuss) is an oceanographer and brings science and logic to the situation. The third and definitely the most electrifying character is of course the infamous Captain Quint. Robert Shaw cemented this character in cinema history as being a hardened shark hunter that you do not cross. His engrossing U.S.S Indianapolis monologue really reinforced him as someone with a vendetta against sharks. He also brings a unique sense of humor to the table along with his expertise at sea. These three characters bring brains, brawn, and heart to the situation and seeing them mesh at sea is a real treat that never gets old. You could watch these 4 do battle forever. Where the first half was a horror film, the second half is a full fledged adventure and buddy comedy. Jaws blended this seamlessly and is one of the reasons why Spielberg's masterpiece became both a financial and critical success.
"Don't listen to the cynics. This is a masterpiece."
In addition to the amazing pacing, likable characters, infamous score, and great thrills, Jaws boasted incredible technical prowess from the young Spielberg. It got some Oscar nods and is thematically rich with men's commitment to community. The cool calm blues are juxtaposed against the harsh reds to represent peace and order suddenly attacked with violence. Shot composition of backdropped sunsets and silhouettes, calm still waters, and the famous dolly shot are standouts among Spielberg's surprisingly impressive camera work. There is one particular shot on the boat that lingers for a but. its all 3 of the men, one standing in the foreground, middle ground and background. Quint is fishing, looking sternly out at sea. Brody is chumming with a disgusted look on his face. He is also the only one wearing a life jacket. It shows that he is the odd duck in the situation and being the only one having to pull his own weight. Hooper has his head buried in some fancy piece of technology. It PERFECTLY demonstrates each character for what they represent. Quint is the hardened brawn and expert at sea. Brody is the everyman bystander and Hooper is the smart guy. Little moments like these make Jaws a delight on every level. Its one of the most finely made and edited films of all time and this allows Jaws to become a film that can be loved by audiences and cinephiles alike. And it certainly has been loved; from the various documentaries, "Jawsfest", theme park rides, merchandise and even books written on the film, Jaws has become a cultural phenomenon and seems to be growing even stronger. This mega hit was on top of the world in 1975 and today remains the best example of when blockbusters still had impeccable technical quality. It was big, it was a hit, it was fun, but it was amazing. Not only amazing. Perfect. Jaws triumphed over its own limitations to become something more. They told Spielberg he couldn't do it, but he did that and more. Its an amazing underdog story both on and off screen. Anyone who doesn't know of Jaws' production Hell could easily spend a few hours just reading amazing stories from behind the scenes. Do it.
Jaws was my childhood. I have been watching it since I was a fetus. In Elementary school, every kid would say their favorite movie was Lion King or Princess Bride. I said Jaws. I got a lot of weird looks. But I have my dad to thank for that one. It has and still is one of our favorite films of all time and in addition to this film being amazing on its own, I also have fond childhood memories of this film that also probably factor into my rating.... If you haven't seen it in a while, I urge you to. Its the perfect summer film. Its a film of many different genres rolled into one and remains massively entertaining even after 35 years. The care, heart, and sweat that went into this film is something that is sadly disappearing in today's world. Jaws simply would not be the same movie if it was made today. And that makes its existence both impressive and humbling. I am forever in Spielberg's debt for giving me a childhood. They don't make em like this anymore.
I also wanna thank whoever developed that Jaws Ride at Universal Studios. That ride scar the shit out of me whenI was a kid. Sadly I never got to ride it again before it was torn down. ;_; that's a shame.
Here are some pics.