Is Jaws the only story that can have sharks in it that's any good? The original novel by Peter Benchley that took the world by storm in the seventies (yes that was forty years ago) was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg and to this day, the movie adaptation holds its own as a chilling tale. It has great actors, a riveting plot line, and a really evil shark.
I will never go into the ocean because of Jaws. I think I could go in a big boat or something, or I could reasonably get my toes wet, but anything more than a few inches...no thanks.
But, as much as Jaws terrified me, I kind of wanted more. Not more of that same story. But a different story that was just as good.
And it has never happened.
This week, "out on dvd" gives us the latest in just really awful shark films called "Bait 3D" and as I watched the trailer, I realized that yes, Jaws by Peter Benchley is the only good shark story that there will ever be.
|This looks unbelievably cheesy.|
Here's the synopsis for it: When a freak tsunami hits a sleepy beach town, a group of survivors find themselves trapped inside a submerged supermarket. As they try to escape to safety, they soon discover that there is a predator among them more deadly than the threat of drowning -- vicious great white sharks lurking in the water, hungry for fresh meat. As the bloodthirsty sharks begin to pick the survivors off one by one, they must work together to find a way out without being eaten alive.
It sounds undeniably bad. So don't you think it's strange that Jaws is the only good story?
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I mean it would be like saying, "Is the only wizard school story that will be any good the one penned by J.K. Rowling?" Which we know is wrong, right? I mean, we have Lev Grossman's "The Magicians" and other similar takes.
I wonder what the limitations are about sharks? Maybe they are just too one dimensional. But aren't zombies one dimensional...yet there are a number of good zombie films. Sharks are like zombies, only in water. They swim and they eat and that's all that they do. So, really there are only so many plot lines one could use to get A) people in the water and B) to show sharks eating them.
Any thoughts on why we keep getting terrible shark movies?
I leave you with this cheesy clip from Bait 3D.
Have a great weekend :)
It baffles me why there's a Shark Week, though it might be because I'm a Brit and the worst we have to content with are angry badgers.ReplyDelete
Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom
A lot of the bad shark stories I've seen go more for carnage than building suspense. That takes me out of the story. I also need to feel like there's something at stake, and if the characters are two dimensional cardboard cutouts (as they all too often are), I don't care about what happens.ReplyDelete
Anyway, that's my two cents in response to an excellent question.
Sad, but I think you're right.ReplyDelete
Harry Potter the only good wizard school? No! A Wizard of Earthsea was great long before Harry, and Patrick Rothfuss's books are splendid, perhaps even better than Harry in their own way.ReplyDelete
As for shark movies, Jaws was great, but I did enjoy Deep Blue Sea, too. Sure, it didn't have the realism of Jaws and it had some cheesy moments, but I actually enjoyed it.
I think Deep Blue Sea wasn't too bad, a bit more tongue in cheek than jaws. Although I like the idea of combine zombies and sharks to make an undead sea movie.ReplyDelete
I think you gone and done it now Michael...You have probably gone and given someone an idea to write a book about Zombie Sharks.ReplyDelete
I saw Jaws when I was 15 and laughed in the theatre. You are right though, even Peter Benchley couldn't do a great follow up to his book.
Jamie's comment - angry badgers!ReplyDelete
That's right, no good shark movies for us anymore. We get Sharktopus.
I like Deep Blue Sea just for the part where Samuel L. Jackson gets eaten. That's always hilarious as he's giving the big motivational speech and then the shark comes up and GULP! he's gone.ReplyDelete
Someone should create a movie with vampire zombie sharks. That'd be cool.
Jaws scarred me for life. I won't go in the ocean because of that movie, and yet I've seen it three times and I read the book. True. Spielberg has said that one of the reasons his film works is because we don't see the shark for most of the movie. We're left to our imaginations -- which is scarier than any mechanical prop could be -- to figure out what the shark looks like when it's hunting people.ReplyDelete
And the only other movie like that I liked was the one where the couple is left stranded out in the middle of the ocean after diving all day. Then they get eaten by sharks. Forget what it's called though.
Sharks in space... that's the next shark story.ReplyDelete
JAWS is my favorite movie, so let's start there. One of the reasons the others pale in comparison is that JAWS has a real story. Yes, there's a shark terrorizing swimmers but that's only the beginning. The whole second half of the movie is different, it becomes less the shark is hunting us and more of a deadly game between shark and man - man vs. nature. Throw in Quint as Capt Ahab, and you have a man that is haunted by his past, a man that is taking revenge on terror, a terror he feels so deep that it becomes his mission to eliminate all sharks (never stated but implied). He drives Brody and Hooper past a chase and into madness. Throw in a government trying to hush up a deadly scandal (shark attacks), a gaggle of local business owners willing to risk the lives of swimmers so they can make $$, a city cop used to rapists and murderers but not sharks and one who's afraid of the water, and an eccentric millionaire who does not act like an eccentric millionaire, and you have a killer story. Not to mention Brody's son is attacked and he feels responsible for the death of another boy. But beyond plot, these characters are people, they are allowed to develop. There's humor. And the dialogue. Oh the dialogue. I will spend the rest of my writing life trying to write something as good as Quint's monologue about the sharks attacking his shipmates, and the set up for that monologue is epic. Shark movies depend on tropes and quick answers, they don't allow themselves the luxury of developing characters because they think audiences don't care about that. Just my two cents. Favorite movie ever, so please forgive length of comment. I actually trimmed it down.ReplyDelete
Don't think I've seen any other shark movie except JAWS. Seems I haven't missed anything.ReplyDelete
probably except SHARK WEEK.ReplyDelete
There are two novels about Megalodon. One's called Meg by Steve Alten and the other is Extinct by Charles Wilson. Both are good, though i think Extinct is better. But neither of them are movies and "good" i'm sure is relativeReplyDelete
Also, i love Jaws. I wish i was watching it right nowReplyDelete
Sharks are cool and scary. I LOVE shark week. But I don't know that animals ever make very good antagonists.ReplyDelete
I think you've found your next book (after you finish the current series, of course). You can do it. I have faith in you.ReplyDelete
Super Shark can take out jet airplanes, when they're still in the sky:ReplyDelete
Shark movies are just vehicles for T&A.
I was actually just talking about Jaws this morning with my young man. You know, I still haven't seen that movie. I do know that it was one of the major things that helped instigate the anti-shark movement that has basically .... I want to say it "decimated" the ocean's shark populations, but that just means 10%, and it's much more than that.ReplyDelete
I need to see that movie. I always got the impression that the shark was just a convenient avatar for the idea of unknown fear.
Jaws was great. My only question is...if they make another shark movie, what can they do different that would make it not more of the same and not cheesy? You can only have a shark attack a boat full of people so many times.ReplyDelete
The movie Orca was also good from what I remember. So this could be proof it can be done.
I think the movie companies are selling these movies on the "NO WAY" factor. As in "No way! In a submerged supermarket? I have to see that. I do not buy into that." And then, bam, they pay their money and see it.
People like knowing what they're going to get before they get it. Predictability = box office gold.
Deep Blue Sea - decent shark film. check it out!ReplyDelete
I have a healthy fear of sharks. And i agree with Philip: Deep Blue Sea is a decent film.ReplyDelete
I think because they concentrate mostly on the shark. Jaws was as much about the Sheriff as the shark. They made Jaws a character in that story, too. In most of the others, it's several nameless sharks. And the suspense in that story was superb.ReplyDelete
It's the only great shark movie I've seen. Definitely. I have no answer to your question.ReplyDelete
I've never seen Jaws--I like being only slightly afraid of the water--but you make an interesting point. You don't hear much about other really good shark movies.ReplyDelete
Jaws? Yeah, I saw it. It bites.ReplyDelete
yeah, this seems to have some good sfx, but almost every flick these days does... and nothing else
loved it when they made fantastic tales with NO sfx at all, back in the day...
I really liked how Libby described why Jaws is so good -- it's the story and the humans who add such depth. And oh, how the dialogue crackles! "We're gonna need a bigger boat" is a classic line because it's so simple, funny and true. There's a two-hour documentary on A&E about the making of Jaws that's fascinating; it explains how the limitations and failures on the set forced Spielberg and others to come up with new and exciting ways to tell the story. Jaws was never a movie about special effects, but about people facing an unthinkable horror.ReplyDelete
To some degree there is no better civil war movie than Gone With The Wind or no better lost little girl story than The Wizard of Oz but those were written a very long time ago. We have to keep being creative and that's the hardest part of writing. My manuscript is a lost girl story but is it better than Wizard of Oz? No way. Great post Michael.ReplyDelete
As a former avid surfer, I'm not a big fan of shark movies. Just sayin'.ReplyDelete
Sounds like a script you should get working on. You might make a mint considering the fear most people have of sharks and the lack of good competition. But as to why there aren't more? Because it's not believable to have sharks stalking and lurking. And it's hard to make them look believable in television/film. Zombies can be created with makeup but sharks....?ReplyDelete
I think it comes down to graphics with shark movies. It's too easy to make it look unrealistic. And it's too easy for forgo storyline to make way for what's supposed to be scary. The zombie movies that succeed look good and have better plots. That's my theory!ReplyDelete
I just realized something. Jaws is the only shark movie I've ever seen. Maybe it's because I use to drive a dive boat in the gulf as a teenager. I tended to avoid anything with large creatures ripping my arm off.ReplyDelete
I've never seen Jaws. However, my younger sister has and she is now very scared of boats. Like even large cruise ships.ReplyDelete
I have seen Deep Blue Sea. It was pretty good. I quite enjoy those movies where there are a few survivors who get slowly picked off by some something or other.
This is probably beating a dead horse but I have watch other shark movies and none of them compare anywhere close was because of how well JAWS was done. It was enough to launch the career of Steve Spielberg. JAWS was based off of a legitimate theory on shark behavior categorized as 'rogue' and territoriality. It has all the facts pinned to it precisely that pretty much leaves the one hole of 'chances are a shark will not get that size.' but it leaves us still wondering whats out there. The music was a key role in the film aswell, the very same composer did Starwars aswell. It had all the key elements of what makes a movie good. Now here's my theory of why shark movies fail.ReplyDelete
1. JAWS was HANDMADE and done well. Either it's bad immitations for a low budget film or it's CGI. This is what kills me for modern day horror is because it's mostly CGI. With the exception to Deep Blue Sea (which I would place 2nd as the best shark movie of all time for me atleast) who made robotic sharks and combined CGI for the more difficult shots. They made an effort and need to be noted for it.
2. Typical horror movie bullcrap, you got the pretty one, the cool one, the nerdy guy that saves the day, the emo/goth or punk if you will and a few others. Jaws had 1 girl, 1 guy, 1 KID, and if my memory is right 1 more which was Quint I haven't seen JAWS in a while. JAWS never stuck with the typical horror movie crap that's shoved into our brains whenever we go to see a horror movie. There's no stereotypes when it comes to characters. They are all unique with the exception to Quint who was based off of the Captain from Moby Dick.
Needless to say I'm disappointed with the last shark movie that hit theatres (Shark Night 3D) it was painful to watch. It stole scenes from Deep Blue Sea and someone on youtube which I hope he rightfully sued the director for if they didn't get permission to use it. The facts were wrong (Those were sand tiger or 'nurse sharks' if you prefer NOT actually Tiger sharks that part I actually got my hopes up for), the movie was not believable and again the typical stereotypical bullcrap I mentioned before.