Let me kick this article off by stating that I love Jaws. I loved it when I was a kid and I love it now. Steven Spielberg’s sensational tale of man versus beast packs more excitement, tension, and drama than most modern movies and easily stands alongside the likes of Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Jurassic Park as one of the greatest summer blockbuster ever produced — if not the greatest summer blockbuster ever produced.
Put simply, Jaws is perfect. There’s not a scene I would or could change, even if I wanted to. At a lean 124 minutes, Spielberg’s film moves like its terrifying monster, swiftly propelling through a tightly constructed plot with the precision of a cruise missile. The characters are great, the script is great, the action is great, and the music is great. Forty-seven years after its initial release, Jaws straight-up rocks.
So, why are the Imax showings of Jaws at my local AMC theater empty? What’s wrong with you people?! I get that most re-releases may not strike your fancy, but this is Jaws — the granddaddy of the modern blockbuster! One of the all-time classic films! Audiences should sprint to their nearest Imax screen like a beach full of panicked swimmers racing to shore after seeing a 12-year-old boy mauled to death by a killer shark.
RELATED: Beverly Hills Cop 4 Adds Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Taylour Paige
We’re gonna need a bigger article to list all the reasons why you should fork over your hard-earned cash to watch a nearly 50-year-old movie you probably already own (in multiple formats) in theaters … but here are a few reasons for you to chew on, in no particular order. Grab some pretzels, pop open your best bottle of apricot brandy, and let’s do this!
John Williams’ Score
For those of you who were savvy enough to see E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial soar on Imax screens a few weeks ago, you’ll understand when I say: you truly haven’t heard a John Williams score until you’re heard the maestro’s music played inside a massive movie theater designed to knock your socks off. I honestly cannot wait to hear Jaws erupt in Imax. Those simplistic but very effective du-dums always manage to cut through my decaying old corpse, causing my younger self to spill out all over the dock. All these years later, Williams’ music still grabs you by the jugular from the opening titles and doesn’t let go until the final credits role.
For all the talk about Bruce the shark and the horror the beast inflicts upon the poor denizens of the quaint town of Amity Island, the best and possibly most terrifying scene in Jaws remains Quint’s eerie recounting of the USS Indianapolis tragedy. The late, great Robert Shaw is magnificent in the four-minute monologue, effectively conveying a broken man still reeling from a shocking, traumatic event. It’s the best damned scene in the entire film — and that’s saying something. Imagine hearing Quint’s speech in a darkened theater amongst a group of frightened moviegoers.
Jaws kicks off in grand fashion with the iconic death of Christine “Chrissie” Watkins, a young woman who decides to take a late-night swim adorned in nothing but her birthday suit. Unfortunately, she ventures into Bruce’s territory and spends the last few moments of her life screaming in absolute agony. It’s a terrific opening that perfectly sets the tone for the remaining film and lets audiences know, Jaws ain’t playing around.
Bruce the Shark
Over the years, I’ve listened to a great many people complain about Bruce’s design — “He looks fake,” they’ll cry, “He looks nothing like a real shark!” Hogwash. Bruce remains one of the great movie monsters — an enormous 25-foot beast with razor sharp teeth and a huge mouth. I’d argue the abnormality of this creature is what makes him scary — he’s not really a shark, you see, rather a living, breathing nightmare that sort of resembles a Carcharodon carcharias, or a Great White. At least, whenever it’s not actual footage of a shark.
I can’t wait to see him on the big screen!
As stated above, I ran to my nearest Imax screen to witness E.T. a few weeks ago and had quite the experience. Now, I’ve seen Spielberg’s sci-fi classic at least a hundred times, but there’s a huge difference between watching a film on your couch where everyday life (and cellphones) tend to hamper the viewing experience, and being forced to pay attention to a massive movie screen in a darkened theater with nothing but an enormous bucket of popcorn as your guide. As such, I picked up things I never noticed before, unique details — a piece of dialogue here, a character quirk there — that had somehow always slipped past my senses on the small screen.
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Jaws roughly 1,234,562 times in my lifetime, so it’s possible I’ve already absorbed every ounce of its greatness. Here’s to hoping this viewing experience swims up and bites me on the ass!
The BIG finale
Make no mistake, as good as Jaws is in its opening hour, this classic tale saves its best for last. After spending a great deal of time getting to know our characters, namely Chief Brody and oceanographer Matt Hooper, Spielberg shifts to full-on adventure mode in the second half. Our heroes pack the rubbers and take to the high seas with the ever-so-charming Quint to catch a very large predator that presumably injured some bathers. Eventually, Quint loses his mind, destroys his boat and forces Hooper to hop into Bruce’s domain via an anti-shark cage.
As Chief Brody fears, the shark rips the cage to pieces before turning its attention to Quint and Brody. We get Quint’s horrible death —
Followed by Brody’s last stand. Our heroic Chief ascends the mast of the great Orca as it slowly sinks below the surface. John Williams’ score kicks up. The shark, chewing on an air tank like it was an electric toothbrush, appears, steals Brody’s spear, vanishes and reemerges some 50 yards away. Brody takes aim, looking for a clean shot at the air tank … the shark charges, and the rest is history:
Yeah, yeah, who cares if Mythbusters debunked Bruce’s death-by-exploding air tank? The entire last 20 or so minutes of Jaws are undeniably spectacular in a Bruised Forearm movie sort of way. After all the careful buildup, character development, and intensity, we get a glorious payoff that shrugs off the slow-building tension and goes for out-and-out suspense. It’s beautiful and will look absolutely killer on an Imax screen.
If you’re lucky enough to see Jaws with an audience full of eager-to-be-frightened newbies, get ready for a lot of fun. Spielberg’s flick still has the power to shock and awe with the best of them. On the small screen, moments like Ben Gardner’s head and the iconic “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” scene are executed well enough to make my teenage daughter jump out of her socks. In a packed theater, the reactions to such bits would put even the likes of Spider-Man: No Way Home to shame.
Honestly, I would give $3,000 for me by myself to see this sucker on opening night with a crowd full of unsuspecting moviegoers — the beginning, the middle, the whole damned thing! Can we invent time travel already?
It’s NOT Marvel
At the risk of sounding like a movie snob, one of the best reasons I can give you to go and see Jaws on the big screen (whether or not you’ve seen it thousands of times at home) comes down to one thing: it’s not Marvel. Sometimes I think we’ve become so inundated with cheap movie products that we forget what a real cinematic experience is supposed to feel like.
Hint: you’re not supposed to forget the movie you watched the moment you leave the theater. Great films stay with you forever.
As much as I’ve (mostly) enjoyed the MCU, the DCEU, the Star Wars EU, and whatever other EUs exist, none come close to matching the power and ferocity of a film like Jaws. If you haven’t seen it, this is the perfect opportunity to see what all the hoopla is about. If you have seen it, then this is the perfect opportunity to see Spielberg’s masterpiece the way it was truly meant to be seen — on the biggest screen possible.
Believe me when I tell you, this is not a typical run-of-the-mill production! It’s not some cynical cash grab! It’s not a bland superhero film! And it isn’t a cheap Disney+ TV show! It’s a classic.