Best & Worst SHARK Movies (Jaws + Deep Blue Sea + Sharknado)


Alright, “Jaws” is coming around for another
pass. Mr. Hooper, get the line ready! I gotta make good on this review. Hurry it up now, tie it on. He’s coming straight for us! Hooper, if you
screw this up Content ID will be all over us! Don’t wait for me! Here he comes! Now! Shoot! This is Movie Night! Hello and welcome to Movie Night, in-depth
reviews in less than five minutes. I’m your host, Jonathan Paula. The mother of all shark
movies, “Jaws” celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, so to celebrate we’ll reviewing
three shark-related films. Beginning with “Jaws” itself. When this horror thriller from young director
Steven Spielberg premiered in June of 1975 crowds were literally lining up around the
block to be among the first to see it. And hence, the term, and business strategy of
“blockbuster” was born. The $9-million dollar production would eventually gross $470-million,
making it the highest grossing film in history, at least until “Star Wars” came along a couple
years later. Loosely based Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name, the PG-rated story
follows Roy Scheider as the newly appointed police chief of a fictional island town who
must deal with a massive shark terrorizing his citizens. Dispute the obvious dangers,
he’s pressured to keep the beaches open by Murray Hamilton, the stubborn Major more concerned
with tourism than safety. Later, the expertise of crazed local fisherman Robert Shaw, and
high-strung marine scientist Richard Dreyfuss are called in to assist with the growing threat.
This core trio blend together splendidly, carrying entire scenes with their antagonistic
chemistry and camaraderie. Their performances are what really sell the implausible premise,
including a haunting monologue by Shaw about the terrifying sinking of the USS Indianapolis.
Although the focus is largely on them, there’s a large supporting cast that deliver great
moments of their own, from Lorraine Gary as the steadfast policeman’s wife, to Lee Fierro
as a angry grieving mother of one of the victims. Although the first 73-minutes of the two hour
film take place on the island, it’s the final act set on the open waters of the Atlantic
ocean where the real meat of the story is. Chronicling the adventures of man against
beast, it’s an awesomely fun, prolonged, but well-paced payoff to the first half of the
film. They harpoon the 25-foot great white with large yellow barrels to help track its
movements – but are positively shocked when the monster manages to submerge with three
of them still attached. Nicknamed “Bruce” after Spielberg’s lawyer, the deadly fish
was brought to life with a combination of water-logged animatronics, puppetry, and real-life
footage of actual sharks. But the techniques used gave the crew so many problems, Spielberg
was forced to cut the shark’s on-screen appearances down drastically, which serendipitously gave
“Jaws” its famous “less is more approach”, borrowing inspiration from earlier Hitchcock
works. Instead of seeing the terror early, the victims are photographed beneath the waves,
from the ominous point-of-view of the shark itself. In fact, Dreyfuss once said of the
notoriously troubled production, “We started the film without a script, without a cast
and without a shark.” When Bruce finally makes his grand appearance, the quick cut back to
Scheider might be my all time favorite reaction shot. Quickly realizing they’re in over their
head, the chief then advises, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Filmed on location in
and around Martha’s Vineyard – Spielberg fills the wide anamorphic frame (one of the few
times he in that format) with bright colors and deep-focused backgrounds. Long-takes carefully
utilize the movements of the actors to adjust the focus of the shot without ever cutting.
An unbroken conversation on a moving barge is particularly impressive, as its dynamic
background and careful blocking keep the two-minute scene interesting. This meticulous, yet patient
style has been a trademark of Spielberg’s work ever since. But it’s the not expertly
done cinematography that gives this picture its personality, but instead the little moments
of charm and serendipity sprinkled throughout. Like when the guys compare battle scars, or
when Scheider holds Dreyfuss’s glasses by his mouth, or the faint glimmer of a shooting
star as the men prepare for battle. Of course, you can’t talk about “Jaws” without mentioning
its Academy Award-winning score. The now iconic themes from legendary composer John Williams
are brilliant in their simplicity, utilizing everything from strings, woodwinds and even
a xylophone to make their mark. But its the oft repeated leitmotif of the shark itself,
alternating between quickening tuba notes that really delivers chills. It mixes wonderfully
with the impeccable sound mix and tight editing, which also won Oscars as well. The high-concept
film spawned three sequels, theme park attractions, a dozen video games, merchandise, countless
imitators, an annual week of programming on the Discovery channel, and even a musical.
The grandfather of all summer blockbusters that redefined beach culture for a generation,
it has remained timelessly enjoyable for forty years. Spectacularly crafted, seamlessly acted,
and endlessly exciting, “Jaws” is a magnificent and riveting adventure for all ages. Here’s
six of your YouTube reviews. An obvious classic, everyone loved this film
with not a single person rating it lower than an eight. We both agreed, “Jaws” is an AMAZING
movie. For tonight’s poll question – what’s your favorite “man verses beast” movie? Leave
your response as a comment below. Next up tonight, one of its many imitators, “Deep
Blue Sea”. Released in late July of 1999, this Renny
Harlin production made over $100 million in profit atop its $60 million dollar budget.
Mixing elements of science fiction, horror, and action this is a totally preposterous,
yet simultaneously entertaining 105-minute adventure. Leading a team of scientists on
an isolated research facility, Saffron Burrows searches for a cure to Alzheimer’s by experimenting
on a trio of super intelligent sharks… who predictably, break free and begin eating everyone.
A rather unlikable character, and hardly a recognizable name herself, the casting of
Burrows in the lead role is certainly a curious one. She’s able to handle the rigid technobabble
and aquatic stunts surprisingly well though. Attempting to bait the giant fish she taunts,
“She may be the smartest animal on the planet, but she’s still just an animal.” By endangering
the lives of her colleagues, she ostensibly becomes the film’s only real antagonist; but
inherently, I’m inclined to agree with her aggressive research methods – a cure for Alzheimer’s
would absolutely be worth the lives of a few marine scientists. Trapped on the sinking
facility with her is Thomas Jane as a resourceful shark trainer, LL Cool J as a religious chef,
Stellan Skarsgård as – who else – a scientist, Michael Rapaport as a happy-go-lucky assitant,
and Samuel L. Jackson as a headstrong CEO touring the lab. And in a truly bizarre move,
prolific bad-guy actor Ronny Cox has a brief non-speaking, and uncredited cameo for no
reason whatsoever. This eclectic group aren’t the best fit for each other, but in a movie
like this, we’re more concerned with how they’ll die instead of how they’ll interact. And on
that point, mostly all receive fantastic and graphic demises thanks to their hungry adversaries.
The shark’s constant presence looms over every scene, giving the film great, and necessary
consequences. This culminates with an absolutely fantastic jump-scare moment that punctuates
one character’s dramatic monologue. Seeing a 20-foot smart-sharks glide through a flooded
hallway for example, is positively terrifying. The rising water is just as much of a threat
as the fish though, with several scenes, especially a sequence inside a burning elevator shaft,
feeling very similar to “The Poseidon Adventure”. On a related note, the set design is a real
highlight; giving the characters unique locations to explore while framed by detailed close-ups
and colorful wide-shots. Although the R-rated picture takes a while to really get going,
it occasionally plays against the expectations of its formula, tricking the audience to expect
the predictable before delivering something new. For the late 90s, the computer-generated
creatures are handled impressively well, and the movie remains quite suspenseful and well-paced
throughout… but it’s also rife with giant plot holes. Like, why is there only a skeleton
crew present the day of their biggest scientific breakthrough? And if the sharks are so smart,
why do they bother flooding the building and eating humans when Jane is quick to point
all they want is freedom? A scene where the tall and sexy Burrows strips down to her underwear
to avoid electrocution also seems particularly gratuitous. Pulling a “Will Smith”, Cool J
lends his talents to the film’s titular pop song – which boosts the unforgettably ridiculous
lyric, “Deepest, bluest… my hat is like a shark’s fin”. The primary score itself by
Trevor Rabin borrows themes from “Jaws” and “Psycho’, but is an effective original work
in its own right. A guilty-pleasure I’ve enjoyed many times since its release – in fact, it
was one of the first DVDs I ever bought when I was 15 years old – this movie is undeniably
fun. Sure, the premise is absurd, the acting rather stilted, and the effects don’t always
hold up – but it’s easily the second-best shark movie ever made. “Deep Blue Sea”, Unbelievable
and stupid, but truly exciting entertainment. Although you liked Sam Jackson and the interesting
premise, you faulted the film for its effects and overall absurdity – scoring it a FIVE.
My penchant for dumb carnage allowed me to overlook this picture’s biggest flaws. I know
it probably doesn’t deserve such high marks, but I’ve always loved this picture – I think
it’s GREAT. Finally tonight, “Sharknado”. This made-for-TV horror, science-fiction,
disaster film premiered on the SyFy channel in the summer of 2013 to massive social media
chatter response. The patently insane 85-minute plot was rather obviously born backwards out
of the film’s titular pitch line: a tornado, infested with sharks, wreaks havoc on Los
Angeles. Fortunately Beverly Hills, 90210 alumni Ian Ziering used to be a surfer, so
he knows a thing or two about killing giant flying fish. Despite his washed-up, D-list
status, Ziering is about the only person in the cast with even an ounce of talent. He’s
still pretty awful here – and only took the job because his wife convinced him they needed
the money – but he’s the lone bright spot in the dreary cast. Attempting to survive
this implausible terror with him is Tara Reid as a perpetually frightened and confused ex-wife,
John Heard as a fat and lazy drunk, and Cassie Scerbo as a flirtatious bartender. The rest
of the cast is populated by disposable meatbags who suffer various gruesome deaths whenever
the TV-14 rated story calls for more blood. One character even makes a poorly-timed period
joke when he quips, “Looks like it’s that time of the month.” – moments after another
victim was eaten alive right in front of him. There’s no consistency with any of the events,
the danger and water levels rise and fall depending on the needs of individual scenes,
with continuity a distant afterthought. “Sharknado” was reportedly shot in just 18 days, and it
certainly looks like it; the cinematograhpy and overall visual style here is downright
pathetic – keeping characters in focus is about the only thing it gets right. Besides
being bland, unsaturated, and generally boring – shots of sunny LA are poorly color-corrected
to make it seem like there’s a large storm overhead. In an effort to avoid costly effects,
a majority of the film just takes place inside various automobiles – an unfortunate trademark
of all productions made by The Asylum. When special effects are required, they look decidedly
fake and pasted on, like some intern just hurriedly rotoscoped a muppet onto a live
action shot. The editing isn’t much better either, a mess of close-ups constantly cutting
around creatures and backgrounds too expensive to frame properly. When the Santa Monica Pier’s
ferris wheel breaks loose and begins rolling uncontrollably towards a fleeing crowd, the
result is comical, rather than exciting or suspenseful. The generic, royalty-free sound
theme music doesn’t help matters much either. A climactic slow-motion show where Ziering
slices a flying shark in half from the inside-out using a chainsaw is pretty dope however. Capitalizing
on the films unexplained popularity, SyFy attempted to retroactively convince the world
the film was meant to satirical, but I remain unconvinced – this looks and feels like a
failure on all fronts. But its success somehow led to two follow-ups, which besides having
a bigger host of cameos, and better effects – were at least more self-aware of their absurdity.
This inaugural installment however is devoid of entertainment or rewatchability. As a film,
“Sharknado” is indescribably ridiculous and awful… and as an experience, it’s unintentionally
hilarious. An achievement of stupid nonsense. Here’s what you had to say about it. Even if you accept this film was stupid on
purpose, it was still hard to watch. You rated this a BAD. While I realize I gave “Deep Blue
Sea” a pass for many of the same faults I’m criticizing here, I can’t in good conscience
give this film anything better than my lowest score of GARBAGE. That said, I’d still recommend
watching it, especially if you live-tweet its premiere screening with the rest of the
world. Finally tonight, a look at some of your Tweet Critiques. If you see a new movie in theaters, Tweet
your review with the #JPMN hashtag. Next week we’ll be reviewing three more releases from
Spring 2015; “Entourage”, “Spy”, and “Jurassic World”. If you get a chance to see these films,
share your opinions by voting in the polls below, or by leaving a comment review. If
you’d like to watch more Movie Night videos, check out the “related reviews” on the right,
or SUBSCRIBE if you’d like to see more of this show in the future. Also be sure to follow
me on social media for updates and exclusive content. Once again, my name is Jonathan Paula,
thank you for watching and listening. Until next time, have a good Movie Night!

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