Few movies feel absolutely perfect from beginning to end quite like Steven Spielberg’s first blockbuster. Taking the source novel by Peter Benchley and trimming the fat (like Ellen’s affair with Hooper and the ineffectual mafia angle), Spielberg manages to deliver a sensational, terrifying gut-punch of a movie that surpasses its literary origin. With a wonderful cast that shares remarkable chemistry (in particular Roy Scheider and Lorraine Gary, who are palpably believable as a married couple) and a strong, crowd-pleasing screenplay, there’s not a single scene, development or interaction that feels insincere or unnecessary. Spielberg manages to work around the technical limitations he faced while shooting the movie, which famously led to the shark POV attack scenes that are furiously fueled by the oppressive score by John Williams, and remain downright horrifying even more than 40 years later.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)