Face-Off: Jaws vs. Jurassic Park

Welcome back, film fans of all stripes! We've been tackling some big blockbuster battles of the last few sessions, stopping last week to focus on some little slasher movies. But now its time to get back to the big stuff because the big stuff is the most fun stuff! For this week, we will look at two of the biggest, most iconic blockbusters of all time from one the greatest to ever sit in the chair. Prepare yourselves for JAWS vs. JURASSIC PARK!

This bout comes in celebration of the new Steven Spielberg blockbuster, READY PLAYER ONE, which hits theaters this weekend. The man is a hit maker of the highest order, and these are among his most beloved films that put billions of dollars worth of asses in the seats. On the left side, we have JAWS, the movie that launched him into the stratosphere, forever changing that landscape of film. On the right side, we have PARK, the movie that stands as the filmmaker's second biggest hit (after, E.T. and before inflation), and reaffirmed that no one does spectacle like Spielberg.

Which movie is the best of the Spielberg blockbusters? Which has the most ferocious beasts? Scroll down to see the bloodbath!

Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody
Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper
Robert Shaw as Quint
Murray Hamilton as Mayor Larry Vaughn
Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody
Carl Gottlieb as Meadows
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler
Richard Attenborough as John Hammond
Bob Peck as Robert Muldoon
Samuel L. Jackson as Ray Arnold
Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry
Martin Ferrero as Donald Gennaro
Joseph Mazzello as Timothy "Tim" Murphy
Ariana Richards as Alexis "Lex" Murphy
B.D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
It's hard to imagine a time when Spielberg was not the most recognizable director to ever walk the earth. But the early-mid seventies was that time, and nobody knew what to expect from this kid who so desperately wanted to make movies. With JAWS he showed the world what he could do, and movies haven't been the same way since. Even after all his hits, JAWS remains a masterclass of pitch-perfect directing from Spielberg. Everything about his work here is absolutely perfect, from his work with the actors in establishing a natural sense of comradery to, most famously, how he concocted and the intense, thrilling atmosphere that scared audiences to death. Showing as little of the shark as possible was a genius move that has gone on to influence countless other horror movies, and has proven to be timelessly effective. No frame is wasted, and you always know where everything is and everything you see has a reason to be seen. With JAWS, Spielberg proves why he was always the master.
PARK and JAWS have a lot in common with each other, especially how Spielberg utilized techniques he used on the latter and on PARK. He established a nail-biting tone by keeping the dinosaurs off-camera for a long time, only to let them own the screen when they finally show up and using every frame to enhance the emotion of the scene. This can be used to either terrifying, wondrous or even hilarious effect, and Spielberg crafts tons and tons of classic, memorable moments that add up to a rousing film and one of the best summer blockbusters ever. As well, he brought out the best performances from his cast, creating a relaxed, natural vibe that has come to be a hallmark of Spielberg film, establishing a band of characters you care to see survive...and some you must see eaten.

Amity Island is a vacation community where folks from both inside and outside the town spend the summers basking on the beach and swimming in the ocean. But soon, terror comes from the depths of the ocean as a monstrous Great White shark begins to terrorize the island town. Several people are devoured before Chief Brody is allowed to assemble a rag-tag group and venture to take down the deep sea devil before it strikes again.

There were a lot of hands in the JAWS script. Author of the book, Peter Benchley, wrote the initial draft of the script, before writers like Howard Sackler, Carl Gottlieb, John Millius and even actor Robert Shaw rewrote and tinkered with parts. In the end, Gottlieb and Benchley got the main credits (Sackler asked for uncredited work, and lots has been discussed regarding the big Quint speech), and the end result is a fantastic script filled with rich characters, memorable one-liners and a thrilling story that glides between tense horror and exciting adventure like a shark in the water. Despite all the terror and shark chomping the themes and conflicts are clear as day. Considering everything that went into writing this script it is astoundingly focused and lean, mixing pathos, fear, adventure and humor.

Thanks to a revolutionary breakthrough in genetic technology, dinosaurs are able to walk the earth yet again. They do so on the Isla Nublar, which is home to the soon-to-be massive theme park, Jurassic Park. Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ellie Sattler, and Dr. Ian Malcolm are brought in to check out the park and give it their blessing when all of a sudden everything goes wrong and the dinosaurs go loose, and the gang must fight for their lives before they're devoured by prehistoric beasties

Like JAWS, a lot of paws were on the script, starting with the book's author, Michael Crichton. Eventually, a rewrite went to Malia Scotch Marmo, all before David Koepp turned in the work that became the film. Like Gottlieb on JAWS, Koepp gave the script some levity between the characters that made them feel more natural, making you care more when shit hits the fan. There's plenty of humor (thank you, Goldblum) and, also like JAWS, the greater themes are not lost in the chaos, creating something as smart as it is mesmerizing.


A Deadly Swim

Chief Brody and the Family

Finding the Girl

The Big Wigs Step In

Vaughn: "Martin, it's all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July."

A Day at the Beach

Brody: “That’s some bad hat, Harry.”

The Shark Arrives

Alex Devoured/The Zoom In

Nails On a Chalkboard

Quint: "Y'all know me. Know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down the pond chasin' bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow you whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', an' down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back your tourists, put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's just too many captains on this island. $10,000 for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Mayhem on the Docks

Meet Matt Hooper

Hooper's Investigations

Hooper: "This was no boat accident."

The Wrong Shark

A Slap in the Face

Father and Son

Brody: “Give us a kiss.”

Sean: “Why?”

Brody: “Because I need it.”

Cutting Open the Shark

Nighttime Hunt

Mayor's Failure to Act

Hooper: "Mr. Vaughn, what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that's all. "

Panic on the Beach

Shark in the Pond

First Shark Visual

Hiring Quint

Quint: "Here's to swimmin' with bow-legged women."

Quint: "Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark."

Shipping Off

Ellen: "What am I going to tell the kids?"

Brody: "Tell them I'm going fishing."

Reeling in Something Big

The Big Reveal

Brody: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Harpooning the Shark

Quints Story

Quint: "Sometimes that shark, he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. Y'know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'... until he bites ya. And those black eyes roll over white, and then... oh, then you hear that terrible high-pitch screamin', the ocean turns red, and spite of all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they... rip you to pieces."

Round Two

Cage Goes in the Water

Shark on the Boat

Down Goes Quint

Brody’s Last Stand

Brody: “Smile you son of a —“

Swimming Home

Brody: "I used to hate the water..."

Hooper: "I can't imagine why."

First Dino Attack

“Shoot her!”

The Golden Insect

The Excavation Site

Dr. Grant Takes the Kid to School

Grant: "A turkey, huh? OK, try to imagine yourself in the Cretaceous Period. You get your first look at this "six foot turkey" as you enter a clearing. He moves like a bird, lightly, bobbing his head. And you keep still because you think that maybe his visual acuity is based on movement like T-Rex - he'll lose you if you don't move. But no, not Velociraptor. You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that's when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side..."

A Shady Deal

Meet Dr. Ian Malcolm

Isla Nublar

Hammond: “In 48 hours I will be accepting your apology.”

Gazing Upon the Dinosaurs

Hammond: “We have a T-Rex.”

Hammond: “Welcome...to Jurassic Park!”

The Presentation

Hammond: "We spared no expense."

Birth of a Dinosaur

Malcolm: “Life, um, finds a way.”

Feeding Time

Muldoon: "That one... when she looks at you, you can see she's working things out."

Discussing the Implications

Malcolm: "If I may, um, I'll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you're using here, it didn't require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now..."

Entering the Park

Malcolm: “What do they got in there, King Kong?”

Dino No Show

Grant: "T-Rex doesn't want to be fed. He wants to hunt. Can't just suppress 65 million years of gut instinct."

Malcolm: "Ah, now eventually you do plan to have dinosaurs on your, on your dinosaur tour, right?"

Malcolm: "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs."

Sattler: "Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth."

The Triceratops

Malcolm: “That is one big pile of shit.”

The Heist

Grant: "You're married?"

Malcolm: "Occasionally. Yeah, I'm always on the lookout for a future ex-Mrs. Malcolm."

The T-Rex

A Distraction

Bathroom Buffet

Grant: “Don't move! He can't see us if we don't move."

Escaping the T-Rex

Dennis and His Little Friend

Escaping the Tree

Vibrations in the Water

Malcolm: "Anybody hear that? It's a, um... It's an impact tremor, that's what it is... I'm fairly alarmed here."

T-Rex Chase

Malcolm: “Must go faster!”

A Moment of Peace in the Tree

Dino Wake Up Call

Ray: “Hold on to your butts.”


The Plan

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

Sattler: "Look... We can discuss sexism in survival situations when I get back."

Turning on the Fence

The Raptor and Ray's Arm

Muldoon: “Clever girl.”

Raptor Attack!

Raptors in the Kitchen

Outrunning the Raptors

T-Rex Saves the Day

Mighty T-Rex Roar

Grant: "Hammond, after careful consideration, I've decided, not to endorse your park."

Hammond: "So have I."

Flying Home

Oh, John Williams, what more can we say about you? With JAWS the musical master created one of the most iconic film scores in history, containing possibly the most recognizable themes ever in film, only behind STAR WARS. The score can be lively and adventurous when it needs to be, just like all Willaims films, but what is so tremendous about the music here is how well it influences the horror. Mixing Spielberg's work of keeping the shark hidden with the recurring, memorable theme is a monumental example of when music and action influence each other and their effect on the audience. When the score kicks in during a tense scene, our hearts beat with the music and score hits its peak as we're just starting to jump out of our seats. And then, we get the biggest scare when the shark emerges as Brody is throwing chum out, and a big reason for that is because the music we've become accustomed to is gone. Dissertations on musical theory and psychology can be written about this amazing, brilliant score, and there's no reason to doubt why it's as legendary as it is.
With PARK Williams turns in yet another breathtaking score fit with a classic theme that is sure to spark the fire of wonder and amazement in the belly of anyone with a human soul. Who can forget the crescendoing of the score when they are first flying to the island, or when we get that full shot of the Brachiosaurus? No one, because it's f**king magical! The work belongs in the pantheon of Williams' best work with Spielberg, including RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, E.T., SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and yes, even JAWS.
Spielberg got a chance to do JAWS before he was the household name he is now, which means he didn't get the budget and the toys to play with that he eventually would. Still, the master director uses the ocean itself as the marvelous set piece it is, giving the visual aesthetic some scope. As for effects, Bruce the animatronic shark is still a sight to behold even nowadays, looking as frightening as ever. It's hard to think of practical, animatronic work as iconic as the shark in JAWS. Well, let's check in next door before I really stand by that comment.
Even watching the movie today, 25 years later, JURASSIC PARK is a marvel of visual effects, thanks to a mixture of practical and digital work. When close up the animatronics are stunning, massive and entirely lifelike, and when we take a step back for wide shots, the digital work takes over stupendously. We can thank the tremendous advancement in digital visual effects to this movie right here, while also look back on it fondly for its use of real, practical effects. It's...just always going to be so beautiful. I'm not crying!
When I was in high school our psychology teacher wanted to show the class JAWS to teach us about some sort of cognitive functions or something or other. A girl who sat next to me, near hyperventilating, called the teacher over. She said she had to leave the room if we were going to watch the movie because she was terrified of sharks, and this movie, and this shark, were the reasons why. That is the effect this ocean-dwelling villain still posses all these years later. The shark in JAWS can rank on the list of the best movie villains of all time, all because of its terrifying presence. We go almost the whole movie without seeing the beast, but we get a sense of how its thinking and moving based on first-person (first-fish?) views of kicking, swimming, delicious human legs under the water. Spielberg gave this character a mind of his own, choosing to stay hidden and when to be seen. We get a sense of how it moves and thinks thanks to scenes where harpoons are lodged in him, with attached barrels moving as he does. Because of this shark, the world became terrified of the ocean and sharks (despite how not murderous and evil they are in real life) after this movie, and that fear has no doubt been passed down to newer generations.
The visual effects departments on PARK outdid themselves on the creature work, as stated above. Even with all the CGI of today, dinosaurs have never felt so real than they do in PARK. In the case of the T-Rex, he is mean, quick and about as terrifying as it needs to be, especially when it's chasing down a speeding Jeep. But the big dino, though iconic as it is, doesn't have the same effect as the shark in JAWS does. The dinos that do have that capacity to terrorize are the Raptors, who are as smart as they are deadly. They certainly elevate the scarier scenes to something akin to a slasher movie, which is always awesome.
Okay, we all know this movie launched the career of Spielberg to a level he has yet to come down from, but this movie is iconic for so many reasons. You got the style, the score, the shark, and we must not forget the impact this movie has had on the current landscape. This movie essentially invented summer movie season, delivering the biggest ever movie at the time during a season that was normally the dumping ground for mediocre affairs (the holiday season was the big ticket time for movies then). We can thank this movie, and later STAR WARS, for the rise of blockbusters, which may be good or bad depending on your view. On top of changing the movie world forever, this is simply an unforgettable masterpiece of American filmmaking that remains timeless and iconic because it is just so f**king perfect.
Like JAWS, PARK changed the landscape of filmmaking forever, in this case, because of the groundbreaking visual effects. Future visual spectacles owe a lot to this movie, and a ton of them don't look nearly as good. As for it's effect on the public, the movie spawned a franchise that has proven lucrative, even if the sequels are a big bowl of meh. Still, the movie stands as a triumphant entry in the Spielberg canon, with it being one of his most fondly remembered, often quoted, and cited by anyone who even has even the tiniest love of dinosaurs.
Spielberg was a young filmmaker when he made this movie, with only three smaller movies under his belt (AMBLIN', DUEL and THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS). He proved to be a master with this massive movie, and many of the soon-to-be common Spielberg touches are in this movie. However, he was still finding his voice as a filmmaker, and the style, tone and general magnificence that comes to mind when we think of Spielberg at his most, well, Spielberg, is not quite all there yet. Does that diminish this movie's legacy? Not one bit, sirs and ladies, not one bit.
With JURASSIC PARK we see Spielberg pulling out the stops as a veteran filmmaker with movies like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and E.T. under his ballcap. Without those movies, he could not have made PARK, end of story. This movie utilizes all the sensibilities and skills of the director, combining huge effects, large scope, thrilling adventure, a tender heart and relatable characters all on a large, magnificent tapestry.
    Best Sound
    Best Film Editing
    Best Original Score
    Best Picture
Golden Globes:
    Best Original Score
    Best Picture
    Best Director
    Best Screenplay
    **10 Wins & 18 Nominations (per IMDB)**


    IMDB: 8.0 (Top Rated Movie #236)
    $260 million domestic ($470 million global)
    Best Sound
    Best Sound Effects/Editing
    Best Visual Effects

    **32 Wins & 25 Nominations (per IMDB)**


    IMDB: 8.1 (Top Rated Movie #196)
    $402 million domestic ($1.029 billion global)

There's no denying both of these movies are peak Spielberg, with both representing the best of the director's talents and sensibilities. Both were game changers and have earned their places as icons in the history of film. But, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, JAWS is that much more perfect. There is not a wasted character, frame or moment in the movie, and as I said before, it is an absolute masterclass in filmmaking. The use of music, editing, sound, and everything else are perfect examples of how to make a movie, and in JAWS, add up to a thrilling, exhilarating, scary and endearing classic that deserves to be called one of the greatest movies of all time.



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