Welcome to a new feature on Animal News: The Blogcast!
If you haven’t noticed, or are new, my name is Matthew Butler, and I am insanely addicted to pop culture. I quite enjoy reading about, watching, and listening to all of the things that people talk about, even when I don’t like them. For example, I’m the one who wrote 5,000 words about Terra Nova, and with Kristin, wrote 11,000 words and stayed up all night writing about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Speaking of which, as soon as the second season finishes, Kristin and I plan on writing about the whole second season in another Marathon Blogathon. I noticed a gaping hole in our schedule though, and I decided to plug it with more of my rambling.
So, we come to this, The Friday Night Creature Features. We’ve talked on one of the very early podcasts about animal movies, and broken down some of the more insane movie moments, but this is going to be the place to write our reviews and opinions about the great animal related movies that have graced our nations screens and televisions. This is where I will expound about Piranha 3D and hopefully Piranha 3DD (which is actually the title of the sequel, I’m not making this up). I’ll wax poetic about Anaconda, Arachnophobia, and an assortment of other A titled pictures. I’ll talk about Beethoven, his second, his third, and perhaps even the stupid movies about that dog. We could do Lassie, Homeward Bound, Rango, Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life and an assortment of other age inappropriate movies. We will even tackle the greats, like Snakes on a Plane, Giant Spider Invasion, Devil Fish, and of course, Jaws.
Jaws. Say it loud and there are sharks attacking, say it soft and it’s almost like slaying.
If you haven’t seen the movie, let’s do a basic plot summary, sans spoilers, so that your curiosity will be piqued, and you’ll finally correct the terrible track record you have had with seeing brilliant movies.
Jaws is a film about a lower middle class family that lives on a tourist trap of an island. The island has few residents during the off season, and the beach is the major attraction that brings money to the island. A girl turns up dead on the beach and the father of the aforementioned family, who is the sheriff of the island, suspects that a predator lurks off the coast, and wants to shut down the beach to protect the people. Will he succeed? To find out, watch another movie. This movie is about a threat, and even knowing that there is a shark doesn’t ruin it.
The film is notorious, and finding an angle to talk about it is somewhat hard, but what I think we should talk about is, how does the film hold up. The effects are practical and subtle, the shark is barely seen, and the whole thing is terrifying. Even when it gets a little hokey, the last third of the movie is a brutal exploration into companionship that holds up better than most movies from the same era.
Also, it was directed by Stephen Spielberg at his most audacious and awesome. He didn’t compromise to get the film made, and in making it, he created a subtle thriller about a shark. The most mindless and insane killing machine is made even more terrifying by the fact that it strikes powerfully and quickly, and the humans in the film give it power. The reaction of Martin Brody, the first time he sees the shark, is perhaps the greatest reaction shot and line in movie history.
And the music. You want to scare people to this day? Get them on a boat, and quietly play the Jaws soundtrack in the background, just audible but not loud enough for them to notice. Slowly turn up the volume, making them more and more aware. Every time they hear it, they will be astoundingly scared, and they will absolutely kill you at the end of the boat trip, probably to appease the new shark god that they have created for themselves. John Williams totally knocks it out of the park.
Look, not all of these are going to be this poetic, but if you have a spare couple of hours this Friday, or weekend, and want to see a creature Feature, you could do way worse than cuddling up under a blanket or two, watching Jaws and enjoying the hell out of your life. It’s got a giant shark in it!
Just like life. So like life.
Anyway, this is the new feature on Animal News: The Blogcast. Got any suggestions for us? Want us to write about your favorite animal movie? Think Jaws is only pretty good? Please leave comments below! Thanks!