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Face-Off: Jurassic Park vs. Jaws

04.04.2013by: Paul Huffman
For last weeks Face-Off, the release of G.I Joe: Retaliation prompted a testosterone filled match between Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Vin Diesel, with Dwayne Johnson ultimately winning the verdict. Our readers seems to agree. That said, bring on that new Riddick flick Vin...we still love to love ya.

Legendary director Steven Spielberg has given us what stand today as two of the best "monster" movies ever to hit the big screen. A film has to be pretty damn special to earn the lasting legacy that Jaws and Jurassic Park have earned, and these films definitely qualify, this will probably be the hardest Face-Off to judge that we've ever concocted. What will be great to discuss is the two very different tones and vibes these films give off, as always it's what our readers have always preferred...both these films would be deserving of a victory, but only one can win. Let's discuss. Jurassic Park 3D will be released this Friday, and needless to say I am so damn there! Any chance of getting a Jaws 3D? Yeah...I went there.
Cast
Sam Neill. Laura Dern. Jeff Goldblum. Richard Attenborough. Bob Peck. Ariana Richards. Joseph Mazzello. And the great Samuel L Jackson in a bit part. The whole team played their parts to perfection here. In essence, Sam Neill and Goldblum did not have that long to play off each other and I think that's why we went both of them to return for the fourth so much. I really dug Attenborough's performance as John Hammond, he portrayed a man so passionate about what he was doing and it was infectious. Laura Dern was also great and sold the terror of the situation perfectly while stile maintaining strength, she delivered that "run" line perfectly. The rest of the supporting cast did their jobs well, I can go on and out about the colorful characters that were sprinkled throughout, but I wont.
Roy Scheider. Richard Dreyfuss. Robert Shaw. Lorraine Gary. This group of main characters sprinkled with the various supporting brought to life a certain element that Spielberg knew would work. He made it a point to avoid casting big stars to keep an "everyman" vibe to Jaws, and he succeeded. I loved the great chemistry and believable love between Scheider, Gary, and their children. I loved Dreyfuss with all his knowledge and willingness to get down and dirty. I loved Shaw as quint with all his mystery and his hardened outer shell, the man has earned his scars. The famous troubled shoot began to be evident on the actors faces, especially during the third act and it made things that much more intense. I'll say this as a bottom line, how great these actors and characters meshed with each other, it gave Jurassic Park a lot to live up to.
Creatures
I think I just have to give Jurassic Park the edge here, simply for the fact Spielberg wasn't concerned with keeping the Dinosaurs hidden to add to the terror, he wanted to flaunt them in all their glory. The very first glimpse of the "long necks" and the subsequent amazement from the cast with John Williams score blaring gets me every time. Then there's that amazing animatronic T-Rex, the feeling of seeing that thing brought to life is still hard to put into words even today. JP has to win in this category also for just giving us more to sink our teeth into. Raptors, Dilophosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Triceratops, Gallimimus, oh my! Jaws is great, but that T-Rex foot slamming down inches away from Grant and those kids was a defining cinematic moment for me.
Bruce, the nickname for three mechanical sharks built for the film...gave them all hell in the film and behind the scenes. I loved the creative decision to keep the shark hidden for most of the film, as it was definitely the most effective way to go and pretty much stays damn true to life, it's this strategy that scared the sh*t out of viewers for its initial release. I mean for most of the duration of the film, all we see is a damn fin, I wish I could have been around when this film was first released before we became so desensitized to terror that modest. But it worked.
Kills
We have the beginning of the film pulling their best Jaws, keeping the raptor off screen while a pour worker screams for his life, "shoot her"...poor schmuck. We have our precious T-Rex that finally got his desert in the form of that asshole lawyer who just "had to go", Nedry's death via the venom spitting Dilophosaurus (a kill shot which was a fiction created for the film), Muldoon's chill inducing fate via that raptor , and Sam Jackson's very strongly implied death. The strongest of these? Probably Muldoon's demise...he even got a classic line out of it, just seeing that raptor inches from your face staring you down so you can get a brief acceptance of what's about to happen to you, clever girl indeed.
The famous opening scene that tells us apparently skinny dipping in the ocean is bad for your health, then there's that poor guy who meets his end right in front of Brody's kid. Now I'll talk about the two deaths that have to give Jaws the edge in this category, one being the audacity these folks had for doing away with that young boy during the beginning with that terrifying scene of the boy disappearing in a flash with nothing but a pool of blood to let us know what happened. The other being Quints death, being already half swallowed by Bruce with the screams of sheer pain and the look of terror on his face...not something that quickly leaves you.
Memorable Lines
"Dr. Grant, my dear Dr. Sattler... Welcome to Jurassic Park."

"Yeah, but, John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists."

"Hold on to your butts."

"Clever girl."

"Shoot her! Shoot her!"

"Ian was right, life found a way."

"Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."

"You never had control, that's the illusion! I was overwhelmed by the power of this place. But I made a mistake, too, I didn't have enough respect for that power and it's out now."

"You're gonna need a bigger boat."

"Smile you son of a BITCH."

"That's some bad hat, Harry."

""Slow ahead." I can go slow ahead. Come on down here and chum some of this shit."

" Ha, ha - they're all gonna die."

"Boys, oh boys... I think he's come back for his noon feeding."

"This was no boat accident."

"*Quints entire "Indianapolis" speech*."

Musical Score
I can't wait to experience Jurassic Park 3D, in large part to hear John Williams' score blare through those theater speakers again. Most recently, me and my brother have discussed the simple sheer joy of hearing the iconic score in the background during the Jurassic Park ride in Universal Studios California. That main theme is just one thing, another one of my favorite cues are the characters first introduction to the Dino's. While there are terrifying cues in JP to be sure, the infamous music here perfectly captures the magnificent fictitious wonder that science has been able to afford us.
The famous tidbit is that when Williams first presented this iconic score to Spielberg, he initially thought it was a gag. The rest as we say is history, terrifying musical history. There are great moments when the music sports a methodic pace to let us know of the sharks presence, the terror built up brilliantly. Other moments there was no music to slowly make us aware of the sharks presence, he surprised us and it was then Williams brilliance kicked in with a vengeance. In the Making of Jaws special, Williams has stated his favorite musical cue is in the scene where Hooper harpoons the shark with that line to the flotation barrel.
Legacy
On various critics lists, Jurassic Park has earned the distinction of being one of the most terrifying films to hit the screen...even getting certain scenes singled out for special mention (that being the sequence where Lex and Tim are stalked by Raptors). Perhaps the films biggest imprint is on the film industry, the computer generated imagery that pulled off inspired the sh*t out of various filmmakers that knew they could follow in the footsteps Spielberg left to help pave the way. Jurassic Park filled us with wonder, dread, and everything in between. Our own Eric Walkuski stated in his review of JP3D that seeing it in that setting made him feel like a kid again, not every film can be given that distinction and Jurassic Park deserves that honor.
Apart from it being the film with the most success until Star Wars came along and knocked if off its mantle, it seems that, at least for its time Jaws influence surpassed the world of filmmaking and hit the general public in a way that not many films do. Beach attendance took a hit after the release of Jaws, that's power. The film is also noted for changing studios projections for great Box Office success from the previous winter timeline to the summer for typical high budgeted pictures. Another interesting aspect of the film is the negative stereotype its perpetuated about the behavior of sharks, the author of the original novel stated he would never have written the book if he had been more knowledgeable about their habits. All that aside, Jaws gave opportunity for films like Jurassic Park to be made...the reigning Godfather of the monster film if you will. All the elements came together to pull off a true classic.
Jaws
So there you have it, folks! I love Jurassic Park, I have a blast and am swept up in it all every single time. But the same can be said for Jaws, and I respect the impact it made on the world a bit more. It tapped in to what we discovered was a very real fear, I can only imagine the feeling of the millions that saw it during its initial run. The musical score has transcended the film, some of the lines have transcended the film, it's embedded itself in popular culture. Jaws is legend. But that's just my opinion. What say you? Strike back!

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

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6:19AM on 04/05/2013
Watching a shark eat a few people isn't scary. It's the News. Jaws isn't awful but it really doesn't stand the test of time. Jurassic Park however, will be just as powerful 100 years from now. Unless of course we ever clone dinosaurs and the dinosaurs eating people just becomes the News. Then Jurassic Park will just be one of those,"remember when that was just science fiction movies."
Watching a shark eat a few people isn't scary. It's the News. Jaws isn't awful but it really doesn't stand the test of time. Jurassic Park however, will be just as powerful 100 years from now. Unless of course we ever clone dinosaurs and the dinosaurs eating people just becomes the News. Then Jurassic Park will just be one of those,"remember when that was just science fiction movies."
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+1
1:49AM on 04/05/2013
I was a wee lad when Jaws came out. But I can tell you Jurassic Park no where near had the cultural impact Jaws did. And it's one of the first true summer block busters.
I was a wee lad when Jaws came out. But I can tell you Jurassic Park no where near had the cultural impact Jaws did. And it's one of the first true summer block busters.
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7:19PM on 04/04/2013

Interesting Comparison

I think JAWS is a truly flawless masterpiece of a film while Jurassic Park is more or less a perfect blockbuster but to choose between them is like choosing between your children.. there's no-way I can do it and both are all-time favorites of mine.
I think JAWS is a truly flawless masterpiece of a film while Jurassic Park is more or less a perfect blockbuster but to choose between them is like choosing between your children.. there's no-way I can do it and both are all-time favorites of mine.
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7:09PM on 04/04/2013

Jurassic Park

Just look at my Avatar, Jurassic Park would win against any other movie. It's the movie that made me a movie fan, and I've probably seen it more than any other movie. I have nothing bad to say against Jaws, b/c it too is a flawless film. However, while both are high-quality moster films, Jurassic Park has an added element of science fiction, which I really find interesting.
Just look at my Avatar, Jurassic Park would win against any other movie. It's the movie that made me a movie fan, and I've probably seen it more than any other movie. I have nothing bad to say against Jaws, b/c it too is a flawless film. However, while both are high-quality moster films, Jurassic Park has an added element of science fiction, which I really find interesting.
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6:27PM on 04/04/2013
yeah jaws it is for me....While the thought of being chased down by a 40 foot reptile with toothbrush sized fronts is horrifying (and Spielberg proved that in Jurassic Park), There is only one single animal on the entire planet that I am completely and utterly afraid of: The Great white shark. I'd honestly rather go toe to toe against a pissed off lion. And Spielberg makes an extremely valid point as to why you should be afraid. Plus as a film, it proved that you can do way more with way less.
yeah jaws it is for me....While the thought of being chased down by a 40 foot reptile with toothbrush sized fronts is horrifying (and Spielberg proved that in Jurassic Park), There is only one single animal on the entire planet that I am completely and utterly afraid of: The Great white shark. I'd honestly rather go toe to toe against a pissed off lion. And Spielberg makes an extremely valid point as to why you should be afraid. Plus as a film, it proved that you can do way more with way less. There's way too many classic parts of that film for Jurassic Park to outweigh it.
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3:20PM on 04/04/2013

Both

It's impossible to choose.
It's impossible to choose.
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+3
2:38PM on 04/04/2013

Jaws man. Jaws.

I'd call Jaws one of the most re-watchable movies of all time. Whenever I see it on TV I have to turn it on no matter what part of the movie it is. When I was little I saw JP for the first time in the theater and yes it was amazing. That said I watched Jaws for the first time on my uncle's small ass television and Jaws still hade more of an effect on me. It made the 6 or 7 year old me afraid of the deep end at swimming pools. It also made me super fascinated with sharks and I ended up getting a
I'd call Jaws one of the most re-watchable movies of all time. Whenever I see it on TV I have to turn it on no matter what part of the movie it is. When I was little I saw JP for the first time in the theater and yes it was amazing. That said I watched Jaws for the first time on my uncle's small ass television and Jaws still hade more of an effect on me. It made the 6 or 7 year old me afraid of the deep end at swimming pools. It also made me super fascinated with sharks and I ended up getting a ton of books on them. Jaws will always have a special place in my movie loving heart.
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2:27PM on 04/04/2013

Jaws

As much as I love Jurassic Park, Jaws to me is just about as perfect as a film can get. Easily my favorite film of all time with my favorite shot of all time. That shot of the dock slowly turning with the music swelling as it heads back towards the guy in the water, freaking perfection!
As much as I love Jurassic Park, Jaws to me is just about as perfect as a film can get. Easily my favorite film of all time with my favorite shot of all time. That shot of the dock slowly turning with the music swelling as it heads back towards the guy in the water, freaking perfection!
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2:18PM on 04/04/2013

Jurassic Park

Both are great films but nothing compares to the breathtaking experience of seeing dinosaurs come to life in Jurassic Park. It was so beautifully done that it still looks amazing today. Everything from JP is so memorable from the special effects and the perfect score, to even the ford explorers and jeep wranglers they drive around in. Jaws is great too but I think JP beats it out very narrowly in every aspect except plot. I just think JP was executed better.
Both are great films but nothing compares to the breathtaking experience of seeing dinosaurs come to life in Jurassic Park. It was so beautifully done that it still looks amazing today. Everything from JP is so memorable from the special effects and the perfect score, to even the ford explorers and jeep wranglers they drive around in. Jaws is great too but I think JP beats it out very narrowly in every aspect except plot. I just think JP was executed better.
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1:11PM on 04/04/2013
Come on now. Jaws by a landslide.

What's up next, Godfather versus Police Academy?
Come on now. Jaws by a landslide.

What's up next, Godfather versus Police Academy?
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1:08PM on 04/04/2013
Jaws by far. I love Jurassic Park, but there's no comparison.
Jaws by far. I love Jurassic Park, but there's no comparison.
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12:32PM on 04/04/2013

JAWS

Easily, I do love me some Jurassic Park though.
Easily, I do love me some Jurassic Park though.
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12:27PM on 04/04/2013

Nope

Nope... Nope nope nope... Nope
Nope... Nope nope nope... Nope
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12:21PM on 04/04/2013

Shame on you, Joes

I don't know how you can compare these movies! (I know, Spielberg, effects, etc)
Jaws is literally one of the greatest movies of all-time. To quote Boromir, "One does not simply compare Jaws to other popcorn movies." Jaws is comparable to The Godfather or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Love JP, but it's a B-Movie.
I don't know how you can compare these movies! (I know, Spielberg, effects, etc)
Jaws is literally one of the greatest movies of all-time. To quote Boromir, "One does not simply compare Jaws to other popcorn movies." Jaws is comparable to The Godfather or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Love JP, but it's a B-Movie.
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-3
12:07PM on 04/04/2013
I like Jaws but Jurassic Park is way better for me.
I like Jaws but Jurassic Park is way better for me.
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12:00PM on 04/04/2013

Jurassic Park

I've probably seen Jurassic Park more times than any other film. And it was one of the first movies I saw in a theater, and Jurassic Park along with Land Before Time made me fascinated with Dinos. Both are great though, obviously. But...Dinosaurs trump Sharks for me. Also, Laura Dern is one of my favorites, can go from a blockbuster to an indie like its nothing. Hope the originals are in the 4th in some way.
I've probably seen Jurassic Park more times than any other film. And it was one of the first movies I saw in a theater, and Jurassic Park along with Land Before Time made me fascinated with Dinos. Both are great though, obviously. But...Dinosaurs trump Sharks for me. Also, Laura Dern is one of my favorites, can go from a blockbuster to an indie like its nothing. Hope the originals are in the 4th in some way.
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11:23AM on 04/04/2013

Jurassic Park for totally biased reasons!

JP was the first blockbuster I saw on the big screen as a kid. And I loved dinosaurs. That movie sparked the utmost love and respect I have for film to this day, and it'll always have a special place in my heart. So while Jaws may be awesome, for totally biased reasons I will dedicate this comment to Jurassic Park. The T-Rex was both the scariest and coolest thing I had ever seen as a kid.
JP was the first blockbuster I saw on the big screen as a kid. And I loved dinosaurs. That movie sparked the utmost love and respect I have for film to this day, and it'll always have a special place in my heart. So while Jaws may be awesome, for totally biased reasons I will dedicate this comment to Jurassic Park. The T-Rex was both the scariest and coolest thing I had ever seen as a kid.
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9:32AM on 04/04/2013

Jaws

I have to say no matter what I am doing I will watch the scene with Quint telling the story of the Indianapolis. And that song show me the way to go home..... JP was great but Jaws is epic.
I have to say no matter what I am doing I will watch the scene with Quint telling the story of the Indianapolis. And that song show me the way to go home..... JP was great but Jaws is epic.
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9:27AM on 04/04/2013

I agree

It's interesting that "story" isn't in here, especially in the context of the source material. The film Jaws greatly outshines the novel it's based on, whereas for all of the spectacle of Jurassic Park, the film failed to live up to what is a much more adult story. I understand that you couldn't make a movie like JP, and not have it geared for kids, but so much of the sinister elements of Crichton's book are lost (basically the moral darkness is dumped on Wayne "Newman" Knight) and everything
It's interesting that "story" isn't in here, especially in the context of the source material. The film Jaws greatly outshines the novel it's based on, whereas for all of the spectacle of Jurassic Park, the film failed to live up to what is a much more adult story. I understand that you couldn't make a movie like JP, and not have it geared for kids, but so much of the sinister elements of Crichton's book are lost (basically the moral darkness is dumped on Wayne "Newman" Knight) and everything gets re-framed into an overly simplified argument about control vs. chaos. Jaws on the other hand, seems to have a lot more moral gray area beyond the stupid Mayor not wanting to lose money on the tourist season. Jaws has about 10% action, and the rest is a great character piece. Jurassic Park is about 70% action and effects, and what's left are pretty one-dimensional characters. Don't get me wrong - it's a fun movie, and as a parent, it's good to find movies that everyone can enjoy, but it's not as classic as Jaws because the story and characters have been dumbed down.
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4:58AM on 04/04/2013
The only thing I really hate about JAWS is that it damaged the reputation of sharks even more and marked them as evil monsters. Now sharks face extinction everywhere. Not only JAWS' fault, but it certainly didn't help. But as a movie it's great.
The only thing I really hate about JAWS is that it damaged the reputation of sharks even more and marked them as evil monsters. Now sharks face extinction everywhere. Not only JAWS' fault, but it certainly didn't help. But as a movie it's great.
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4:07AM on 04/04/2013
This sure was a tough face-off because its like comparing a classic muscle car with its loud, brash engine and toughness with a lastest version wich comes with optional sport-mode, traction control and superior comfort. One is fun and other is mature.
Theres no doubt that Jaws left a pop culture legacy but JP was more than just suspense and scares. Off-course when i first watched it I was blown away by the special Fx but as I got older I began to appreciate the quasi-philosophical undertones
This sure was a tough face-off because its like comparing a classic muscle car with its loud, brash engine and toughness with a lastest version wich comes with optional sport-mode, traction control and superior comfort. One is fun and other is mature.
Theres no doubt that Jaws left a pop culture legacy but JP was more than just suspense and scares. Off-course when i first watched it I was blown away by the special Fx but as I got older I began to appreciate the quasi-philosophical undertones of "could humans and dinosaurs live together and what would be the impact on society, the eco-system, etc", "Should dinos be alive in the first place?" long story short: the board-room scene.
Jaws is still great to watch and the mechanical shark isn't too distracting and as a result its believable as a killer which is something thats very hard to sell with CGI (which JP managed to pull off).
Besides theres only so much you can do with a shark but with dinosaurs the possibilities are great because you have all sorts of killers and you always have to be on your guard.
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8:12AM on 04/04/2013
I like the way you think!
I like the way you think!
2:49AM on 04/04/2013
This is an interesting choice for a face-off. I was watching "The Shark Is Still Working" and really marvelling at the far-reaching legacy Jaws has, what an impact it's made on how movies are made and how audiences enjoy movies. Jaws is an excellent film in so many ways, and the arduous odyssey of its journey to the big-screen and the stories of its making told by Steven Spielberg, Carl Gottlieb, Peter Benchley, Richard Dreyfuss and many others make it even more compelling than it already is.
This is an interesting choice for a face-off. I was watching "The Shark Is Still Working" and really marvelling at the far-reaching legacy Jaws has, what an impact it's made on how movies are made and how audiences enjoy movies. Jaws is an excellent film in so many ways, and the arduous odyssey of its journey to the big-screen and the stories of its making told by Steven Spielberg, Carl Gottlieb, Peter Benchley, Richard Dreyfuss and many others make it even more compelling than it already is. Personally speaking though, "Jurassic Park" is my "Jaws". As a '90s kid, it probably had the same impact on me as Jaws had on a 70s kid. It's not to say Jurassic Park is better than Jaws (objectively Jaws probably wins out), but Jurassic Park is a little dearer to me. Looking at Jaws and how great a story it is (the same can be said of Jurassic Park too), it makes me wish more monster movies will be made that aren't intended as B-grade shlock, but have real characters and real emotions behind the spectacle and the mayhem.
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2:27AM on 04/04/2013
Jaws. Not even close. Its everything a movie ought to be.

I love Jurassic Park, it holds a special place in my heart, Stan Winston's animatronics will never not be awe-inspiring...but it can't compare to the characters, dialog, and sheer timelessness of Jaws.
Jaws. Not even close. Its everything a movie ought to be.

I love Jurassic Park, it holds a special place in my heart, Stan Winston's animatronics will never not be awe-inspiring...but it can't compare to the characters, dialog, and sheer timelessness of Jaws.
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1:09AM on 04/04/2013
Jaws for me as well. The final climax never feel old and outdated. It leaves you breathless.
Jaws for me as well. The final climax never feel old and outdated. It leaves you breathless.
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