Published on July 27th, 2016 | by Brando Quiring0
Jaws: Blockbusters and Bad Sequels
Jaws was one of the first templates for the international summer movie, but how much did the increasingly insipid sequel cash ins inspire today’s blockbusters?
The world of popular cinema is stuffed with sequels and remakes, reboots, rehashes, and retreads. Nowhere is this more true than in the summer time when the studios will resurrect anything they can in the hopes of attracting summer movie goers. From reboots no one asked for to sequels no one asked for, the blockbuster season can be tough sometimes when most movie are all about neon lights and flashing colours.
But is that how it has always been? Has it always been about superhero flicks with no stakes, and sequels that are decades later than they need to be? Is there a summer blockbuster out there that actually added to the movie world? That shook up the way we look at life and rocked the very foundation of our society?! A movie that has been talked about so much that desperate movie reviewers who are made physically ill at the thought of another cardboard, one-dimensional Marvel villain being beaten down with no reason to care?
Yes. That movie is called Jaws.
Jaws is the perfect summer movie, so perfect in fact, that it is to blame for how summer movies are released and marketed today.
The first Jaws was a production so plagued with problems and glitches and cast squabbling that everyone figured it was destined to fail, or, sink, if you will. Everyone was surprised when not only did it do well but it had people afraid of the water. Beaches everywhere were full of people who were terrified that Bruce the shark was going to show up and eat their whole family. Jaws still impacts the way people view one of the Earth’s oldest predators, tricking them into thinking that sharks are the Jason Voorhees of the sea. Jaws is also infinitely quotable, will a ton of famous lines that have been spoofed and borrowed for over 40 years. It also has an instantly recognizable theme song that virtually everyone in the world can recognize.
Jaws takes its less is more approach to filmmaking and delivers a thrilling experience that even modern sea creature features have trouble topping. The movie’s leviathan is one of the least convincing animatronics ever filmed, but it doesn’t matter because everything around it is so good. It takes a special sort of movie to keep an audience interested during all those long, far shots of the flat water and sky, yet still holds your attention with simple yet effective storytelling, compelling characters, and just enough tension and scares to keep you on the edge of that seat.
It is infinitely entertaining and forever rewatchable. So what does the first real blockbuster summer movie have to do with the trite, derivative schlock that comes our way all too often these days?
Jaws had pups! Three of them to be exact, and it has spawned dozens of b-movie spiritual successors that have been keeping fans of awful movies, like myself, entertained for years.
Jaws 2 gets a pass, not because it was great, but because it wasn’t Jaws 3-D. Jaws 3-D was a tragic victim of the 80s 3-D craze that turned already not very good movies into hilariously terrible abominations. Jaws 3-D tried to go bigger and better, with a theme park full of victims for its thirty-five (that’s 35) foot sea demon to chow down on. Plus some kind of crazy deep sea observation platform for said victims to become hopelessly trapped in while the angry shark tears Sea World to bits. I have argued for years that Deep Blue Sea took a whole ton of cues from Jaws 3-D, and that is a pretty big strike against it.
Jaws 2 and 3 three are not on the level of useless this inspired this little tirade however. For all the silliness in those pictures, they are still clean, wholesome, shark attack ridden fun. No, we don’t truly get down to the level of the shameless cash-in, don’t truly plunk that big, shiny cherry on the top of the shit sundae until we dig down to Jaws 4: The Revenge. Now we are into to type of hot garbage that inspired crap like Two-Headed Shark Attack, Sharknado and the 1998 version of Godzilla.
The final Jaws movie was a mess, pitting the traumatised wife of sheriff Brody against a supernatural mega-shark that possesses to capability to teleport thousands of miles around the globe, existing only to erase the last of the Brody clan from the face of the planet. It seems that if you kill enough giant sharks, nature has a way of getting even with you. Jaws 4 is the kind of rotten cash in that kills what should never have been a series and inspires dozens of sadistic film makers to produce shark attack pictures with sharks that fly, swim under the ground, hold down minimum wage jobs, and a whole slew of other things that aren’t swimming, eating and making little sharks.
It was a testament to exactly how fast and how far a movie franchise could fall when the studio behind it extended their arms a little to far to grab those summer dollars. It is also a depressing reminder of just how many useless retreads are filling the cinemas these days. For every flick that tries to break new ground or take a story in a new direction, there is another Ice Age movie that was written and directed by a computer program that works solely on demographic market research with a mandate to keep it PG so the kiddies can enjoy it too.
But at least when things get dull and multiplex screens are smeared with nothing but junk we can all travel back to a simpler time when a malfunctioning mechanical shark inspired terror in our hearts and trilled worldwide audiences, inspiring the season of the summer blockbuster. Even if that inspiration ended up giving us a filmmaking culture more focused on taking our money and flashing a strobe light in our faces than actually entertaining us.
By the by, The Shallows was totally average.