Wednesday, April 03, 2013

You're going to need a bigger boat

Stumbled across Jaws on SyFy tonight - certainly one of the higher-quality films they've got in their roster. I was surprised, when I saw it on the EPG, that it was actually the original; I was expecting it to be some high-numbered, low-quality sequel. They still managed to break up a lot of the tension with ad breaks, although it was far from an ITV hatchet job.

The last time I saw Jaws was at the cinema; the Odeon in Dundee was showing it a few months ago and I'd never actually seen it the whole way through before then. The first shark attack is ridiculously dragged-out - in fact they're all a bit melodramatic - but it's a phenomenal film. Even if it doesn't get really special until Brody, Hooper and Quint are out on the Orca.

If it wasn't for Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss would steal the whole show; Hooper's squeamish but determined approach to autopsies (both human and shark) is perfect, and would be hilarious if it wasn't so totally serious. I always feel like I'm being a little bit harsh on Roy Scheider in this; he's playing a more or less ordinary guy, and aside from the fear of water he doesn't have the eccentricities that make Hooper and Quint so interesting to watch.

The standout scene for me, though, hangs entirely on Shaw. Quint's story about his shipwrecked crew is mesmerising. Told so simply and straightforwardly, almost daring Brody and Hooper to feel sorry for him.

It's something of a pity that the finale is so literally explosive; there's relatively little action for most of the running time, so the final shark attack on the Orca is a bit out of place. The majority of the film hides the shark and focuses on the people, so when the monster finally does appear properly the film loses a little bit of what makes it really fun to watch.

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