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Ride of Terror Showdown
by Andy York

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Well, it's now May and that means one thing. The NBA Playoffs are going to be rocking, so I won't be really watching much else. This week I have a great face off. Both films deal with monsters and vacation destinations! This time around The Showdown brings you a summertime blockbuster death match. It's Jurassic Park vs. Jaws!

Jurassic Park

I remember seeing an interview with Steven Spielberg where he said he wondered if him concentrating on Schindler's List while simultaneously making Jurassic Park would make the later not scary enough to frighten your grandma. Well, I don't know if I would say the movie was all that scary, but it was absolutely entertaining. JP was so much of a hit that they're now working on a forth installment. Both Jurassic Park and Jaws could be called the definition of "blockbuster". Both films were massive successes when they were released, and were followed by several sequels. Though, its Jurassic Park that I can say I contributed to the success. When I was about eight my mom took me to see this in one of those cheap two buck theaters. My brother and I had been dying to see it and so my mom finally broke down and took us to see the movie. It wasn't the cost of going to the movies I think she objected to, but rather the fact that Jurassic Park is about dinosaurs that eat people. With me being eight, she obviously had some reservations. Well, all turned out okay because I've yet to reenact what happens in Jurassic Park.

It's the entire idea of Jurassic Park that Steven Spielberg will be most remembered for. Whether it is with time travel, amazing adventures or bringing dinosaurs back into existence, a large portion of Steven Spielberg's legacy will be about bringing dreams to the screen. I think that's what so many like about this film. As kids we all were taught about these massive creatures that were here many years before us(No, we didn't ride them.) and we all wondered what they were really like. Jurassic Park allows us to
get the best view of dinosaurs we'll ever have, or at least what we think they would've been like. Now, for those of us that have seen the movie, well, it doesn't exactly stay all peaches and cream. One thing we were taught in grade school was that a lot of these creatures liked to eat other creatures. Considering most dinosaurs were stronger, faster and much bigger than any of us a lot people in the movie tend to run really fast and scream a lot. So, you have a vacation resort where you can see real life dinosaurs, but everything goes horribly wrong. That's about as "summer blockbuster" as you can get.

Jaws

What's the line? Jaws did for swimming what Psycho did for showers? Both films play on us in some of our most vulnerable states. In the shower we have no real awareness of what or who is outside of the curtain. When we're swimming we can't really see what's below us. We know that anytime we swim in the ocean or a river that we're sharing the water with some dangerous creatures. Well, Jaws only picks on one creature, a shark. The movie tells the story of a small beach community terrorized by a man-eating shark. From the theme to "We're gonna need a bigger boat." this is such an iconic movie. It virtually made Steven Spielberg and holds a place as one of the best terror films of all time. I don't know if it deserves all the placing on the top 100 lists it receives, but if you make a list like that, it's a film that must be considered.

I was recently thinking about how much of a perfect popcorn movie Batman Begins is. Its characters have depth, the actors have talent, the action is entertaining and, while the story is far fetched, it's just so well told. Jaws may be the first of that pack of the big popcorn movie. None of the hero characters are the tall, dark and handsome stereotype that some movies fall into. With actors like Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Schneider you know that acting talent will be there. As far as the action being entertaining, the
last twenty minutes of the shark all but destroying our heroes' boat, it can stand up to any action sequence in movie history. All of this is tied together with a fairly well constructed and tight film from Spielberg. There were huge summer box-office movies before Jaws, but I think this might be where the definition of what constitutes the big summer movie today started. This was released on June 20th 1975. So, it's right in there for the target few months of May, June and July. When the weather is nice and you just want to go see some fun fluff. There's a reason why they release Spiderman and Shrek in those months and not The Departed or American Gangster.

Winner - Jaws

I was all set to deliver the upset by picking Jurassic Park. When I thought about writing this column I automatically thought I would choose JP, but then something bad happened. I rented both and watched them. Jaws is simply the superior film. Jurassic Park has the better visuals, but Jaws has the build up of not seeing the shark until the last twenty minutes. One of the biggest differences I noticed was in the dialogue. Both films have plenty of cheesy one-liners, but Jurassic Park's collection were just a little too far over the top. Plus, despite all the cool violence with the dinosaurs, nothing in Jurassic Park tops when the shark eats Robert Shaw! He's screaming and screaming until the shark crunches down on his chest. Man, I don't care how many brutal and violent movies I've seen, that scene always makes me a little uneasy. Jaws is just the better movie folks! It proved me wrong.

******************

This will be my last column for Matchflick. For the majority of the time I spent writing for this site I really enjoyed doing so. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case. I will continue to write somewhere, but it's become clear that I need to move on from this site. The environment here is just too fractious for my taste. So, Out of the Past is now just that. The past...

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Out of the Past
Every other Tuesday

Discussing classic films from City Lights to Apocalypse Now and everything in between and beyond.


Other Columns
Other columns by Andy York:

Top 10 Coolest Movie Characters

Stewart-Mann Western Connection

Academy of Irrelevance

A Guide to the Fiercely Divine

The Greatest Violence

All Columns


Andy York
Andy is a life long movie fanatic. The first movie he saw in the theater was Back to the Future, Part 2 at the age of 3 and he has loved movies ever since.



Contact
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Andy York by clicking here.


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