So, I caught the 40th anniversary screening of this at a local theater. I’ve seen it on the big screen once before, but will I ever pass up a chance to see this movie? Not if I can help it. I see no need to talk at length; probably everyone reading this review has seen it. On the off chance that you’ve found your way to this review without having seen it, you just really, really must. Anyway, the film is one of the most pleasurable I’ve ever encountered. From start to finish, the film is just absolutely engrossing and engaging. It humanizes its characters like few movies of its type do and the performers are all brilliant: Scheider, Dreyfuss, Shaw and Hamilton are, quite frankly, all career best in this movie. The movie is funny when it needs to be, terrifying when it needs to be, disturbing when it needs to be, gripping when it needs to be. Every moment of this movie is as close to perfection as I think anyone could ever get making a movie. The fact that Spielberg was a mere twenty-seven years old when he made this is unbelievable; it’s still one of his very, very best. Throw in a magnificent Williams score and you have a masterpiece. But it’s all about those wonderful moments, isn’t it? That zoom in/dolly out on the beach, that terrifying opening, that slow swim by the boat when we first see the scale of the shark, that drunken singalong, Shaw’s astounding Indianapolis monologue, Scheider & his son at the dining room table, that head popping out, the beautiful simplicity of the repeated motif of the barrels popping to the surface, “Smile you son of a bitch,” and I could go on all day. This movie is simply put, a masterpiece in every aspect of filmmaking: directing, scoring, acting, writing. This movie will never stop being what it is: one of the greatest things ever created by humanity. This is, I think, the single most rapturous review I’ve ever written, so this won’t be a shock: 4 stars.
tl;dr – a masterclass in direction, scoring, writing, acting and just about everything else; Jaws is as near to perfect as any movie will ever be. 4 stars.