A 1975 shocker that made a generation terrified of the sea and a 1999 pseudo-scientific hydrophobia inducer. Two pretty scary shark films: Steven Spielberg’s original masterpiece Jaws and Renny Harlin’s career pinnacle Deep Blue Sea were both films that gave us a clear message… sharks aren’t to be trifled with.
Considered the original shark film by many due to its resounding success, Jaws made Spielberg a household name, a young multi-millionaire and an award-winning director. It holds a coveted 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and became the highest-grossing movie of all-time when it was first released in 1977.
Deep Blue Sea was not as fundamentally ground-breaking as its opponent, but nonetheless provided an even mix of good thrills, great performances and clear messages about how messing with shark brains is a one way ticket to disaster. Let’s leave behind critical, commercial and lengthy successes and look at the films at face value. Both are seen as the best of the killer shark genre, but which is the better flick?
1. The Opening Scene
Jaws begins with one of the most iconic scenes in movie history. Poor Christie goes out skinny-dipping with her new found man friend, who casually passes out on the beach, leaving her alone in the water. What follows is a shocking, harrowing introduction where this innocent eye-candy is swept about by an unseen force and smacked into a buoy, only to be dragged under and never seen again (until that equally shocking shot of the crabs).
Thanks to its much later time frame, Deep Blue Sea had a lot of stereotyping to avoid. It manages this well with its main characters, but -purposely or not – almost forces it upon the drunken teen group that open the movie.
Unfortunately, what worked for Jaws does not work the hundredth time later, and by now the whole dumb teens being stalked thing had been done to death, mostly courtesy of the slasher genre. As if this wasn’t enough, we don’t even get to see a kill in the opening scene. The shark loses all of its menace as it is easily captured, and while this is necessary to the plot it still feels a bit like a rushed piece of action rather than the important establishing sequence it needed to be.
So that’s an early lead for Jaws, but can Deep Blue Sea pull it back?
Total: Jaws (1) Deep Blue Sea (0)
This article was first posted on February 12, 2013