The Shark Is Still Working

"Excellent"

The Shark Is Still Working Review


The title of Erik Hollander's detail-oriented Jaws documentary reminds me of Bill Murray's off-handed Ghostbusters line, "And the flowers are still standing."

The connection is deeper than you'd think. As Shark painstakingly illustrates, Steven Spielberg and his crew employed a fair share of magic tricks during the tumultuous filming of this eventual blockbuster, and they often felt like the proverbial tablecloth was being yanked out from beneath their feet as problem after problem rode in on the crests of each wave off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.

The notoriously reticent Spielberg joins Peter Benchley, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and almost every key Jaws contributor for this comprehensive recollection, and admits on camera that filming on the ocean -- as opposed to in Universal's backlot water tanks -- was the first of many mistakes made during the 1974 production. But it's hard to argue with his end result, which is thoroughly explored beginning with pre-production and ending at Jaws Fest, a 30th anniversary celebration held in 2005.

Shark leaves no fin unturned. The film's four producers -- all reported die-hard fans -- dig up spectacular archival footage taking us around Spielberg's waterlogged set, revealing previously unseen outtakes and capturing vintage (as well as modern) insights from the Jaws cast and crew. Jaws fanatics seeking a trivia-spewing keepsake of their beloved shark story will be overjoyed.

And Shark, like the beast that bears its name, moves ever forward, scoring footage you'd assume producer Richard D. Zanuck had locked away in a private vault. Watch Spielberg react to the announcement of the 1975 Academy Award nominations -- and (mildly) gripe about being left out of the Best Director race. Listen to John Williams conjure his chilling, two-note score. Hear Scheider fall back on the "contractually obligated" crutch when discussing Jaws 2... then somehow indirectly compare that film to The Godfather: Part II!

A good chunk of Shark is Hollywood folklore, yet even the stories you already know sound better coming from the men and women who got their feet (and everything else) wet making the movie. Going beyond the film itself, Shark explores the impact Jaws had on our culture, analyzing the merchandise frenzy, the copycat filmmaking, and the incessant marketing strategies lifted from the movie's brilliant campaign. Sure, Shark begins to swallow its own tail a little when it gets into similar making-of tools, from Jaws scribe Carl Gottlieb's "Jaws Log" to Laurent Bouzereau's groundbreaking documentaries. Isn't this enough making-of discussion for one sitting? Oh well. Fans likely won't mind sticking their toes back into these waters once again.

Working? Looks like he's on break.



The Shark Is Still Working

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 12

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Erik Hollander

Producer: Erik Hollander, Jake Gove, James Gelet, Michael Roddy

Starring: as Himself, as Himself, Gregory Nicotero as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself


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