Movie Project #31 and #32: Jaws [1975] and Dark City [1998]

The 50 Movies Project is a personal “marathon” of mine. In June, I compiled a list of 50 movies that I felt I needed to see by the end of the year. Old, new, foreign, English — it doesn’t matter. These are all movies that I have heard a lot about and have been wanting to see for some time. This project gives me a way to stay focused on the goal.

Jaws [1975, Steven Spielberg]
Jaws [1975, Steven Spielberg]
Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss.

I had seen parts of Jaws over the years, but had never sat down to watch the entire movie. I am kind of amazed that it has taken me so long to do so, as this is a top-of-the-line summer blockbuster flick. It’s impressive that a movie of this caliber can wait until the hour-past mark to actually show the great white shark. In fact, I found the first half of the movie to be the most fascinating, as we are watching an unseen creature terrorize a small island town. This is when the horror elements kick into full gear; we know a huge shark is out there, but since we don’t see it we feel somewhat invincible to a potential attack. But then, of course, the shark kills a couple people, including a child, and all hell breaks loose.

The second half of the movie focuses on three men — the town sheriff (Scheider), a ‘professional’ shark hunter (Shaw), and an oceanographer (Dreyfuss) — as they head out on a boat to kill the shark. I wasn’t as enthralled with this part of the film, although it did have some great moments (such as the hunter’s lengthy story about his time on the Indianapolis). Still, I enjoyed the cast, especially Dreyfuss, and John Williams’ epic score makes things even better. I can agree that this is one of Spielberg’s best. 8/10

Dark City [1998, Alex Proyas]
Dark City [1998, Alex Proyas]
Starring Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly.

I added Dark City to my project because I have some friends that absolutely love it, and because it was listed as Roger Ebert’s best movie from 1998. While watching the film, I was intrigued by its neo-noir style. It has obvious similarities to The Matrix, which was released one year later, and I can see why it has a bit of a cult following now. The dark atmosphere, dystopian city and intriguing sci-fi plot were all things I enjoyed from the movie. Unfortunately, the acting hampered things a bit for me.

Rufus Sewell seemed aloof and disinterested in the lead role, and I still don’t know whether I liked or despised Kiefer Sutherland’s overacting while playing the stuck-between-good-and-evil Dr. Schreber. The visual style is impeccable, but at the same time, the movie almost feels amateur-ish. I enjoyed Dark City, but I can’t help but feel that a better movie could have been made, considering the interesting sci-fi story and (normally) strong cast. 7/10

11 thoughts on “Movie Project #31 and #32: Jaws [1975] and Dark City [1998]

  1. Dan says:

    Jaws is a fabulous film. One of my favourites. It will live long as an important piece of cinema history – not only is it a great thriller, that is expertly realised, it ushered in the age of the blockbuster and Hollywood has never looked back.

    • Eric says:

      I agree that its influence is undeniable. Definitely an entertaining film, and easily the best “shark movie” I have seen. Thanks for stopping by, Dan!

  2. Scott Lawlor says:

    This is a post right up The Lawlor family street. Jaws is one of my all time favourite film. Amazing story, with amazing direction, A master piece.

    Dark City is one of my wife’s all time faves too. She just loves it. I had to buy it on Blu Ray for her… πŸ™‚

    • Eric says:

      Haha, good stuff! Glad to hear you guys are such big fans of these movies. I was hoping for a little more from Dark City, but I can see why it has such a cult following these days.

  3. rtm says:

    Man I haven’t seen Jaws for ages, but that is one great classic from Spielberg. Not many films made such an impact like that one, for a while lots of people were afraid to swim in the ocean because of it. Still the greatest shark movie of all time IMO.

    I really like Dark City, it’s so underrated but more people should check it out. I think the lead character’s aloofness is perhaps a requirement for that role? In that regard I think Rufus was compelling.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, I can’t think of a better shark movie than Jaws. Dark City was enjoyable, but Sewell’s performance really bugged me for some reason. I loved that neo-noir feel, though.

  4. fogsmoviereviews says:

    These are both good films to scratch off your list. I can live with Dark City getting a 7, its not the most accessible film.

    Jaws though? Cmon, buddy, at least a 9! That movie is an all time great! πŸ˜€

    • Eric says:

      I have noticed that I tend to be a little harsh when it comes to giving a film a rating, at least on my first watch. I could see both movies growing on me in subsequent viewings. Glad to hear you are a fan of both. πŸ™‚

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