Critic Consensus: Compelling, well-crafted storytelling and a judicious sense of terror ensure Steven Spielberg's Jaws has remained a benchmark in the art of delivering modern blockbuster thrills.
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Critic Reviews for Jaws
I don't think there's a more exciting talent at work right now than Spielberg, an authentic moviemaking prodigy, and perhaps his worst problem from June 20, 1975, on will be preventing success from making a nervous or artistic wreck of him.
Director Steven Spielberg has immeasurably improved the bestselling Peter Benchley potboiler novel.
Spielberg had paced the film beautifully so that one is always on edge, tensed for those scary moments that turn out to be false alarms, and left somehow totally unprepared for the real shocks.
It may be the most cheerfully perverse scare movie ever made. Even while you're convulsed with laughter you're still apprehensive, because the editing rhythms are very tricky, and the shock images loom up huge, right on top of you.
The result is a fast-paced, straight-line thriller that moves without pause toward the climactic contest at sea between three men and a 25-foot, 3-ton great while killer shark.
Audience Reviews for Jaws
A film that demonstrates that it is what you don't see that scares you. Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw give excellent performances. The story is compelling and the music is chillingly iconic.
Steven Spielberg's classic monster movie is a supremely accomplished slice of popular entertainment and one of my enduring favourites. His directorial expertise shines as he perfectly manipulates the mood of the film aided by John Williams' frankly perfect score. He contrasts the ferocious attacks with their broiling red stained surf and hysterical screaming with the serene peacefulness of the lapping moonlit waves from the very first scene, and uses misdirection and comic asides to engineer a tangible sense of tension as you wait for the shark to appear. Of course, the clunkily mechanical beast that completely fails to recreate the grace of the real animals is easy to criticise, but for the most part Jaws' presence is hinted at through a clever combination of first person camera work, reappearing barrels and Williams' music intercut with real shark footage and it works brilliantly. The characters are also fantastic, particularly during the bonding scene when Quint intensely recounts his experience of the USS Indianapolis, and there are so many wonderfully quotable lines I could probably recite the entire film from beginning to end. Another of the few films that I could never tire of seeing.
The classic thriller never gets old, handled superbly well in the open waters by Spielberg and carried with charisma by its lead actors. 'Jaws' will never fail to entertain, and still stands as one of the greatest thrillers of all time.
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