Monday, June 13, 2022

Five Favorite Shark Movies

1. Jaws (1975) - It's an obvious choice for the No. 1 spot, but it's also the only choice, isn't it? Time has improved this impeccably-made blockbuster that functions as two films. Its first half focuses on the political and financial implications of closing the Amity Island beaches on the busy Fourth of July weekend. The island's mayor doesn't want to believe there's a people-eating great white shark lurking in the waters, while police chief Brody desperately tries to convince the locals of the impending danger. The second half of Jaws is a masterful suspense "film" that finds an unlikely trio--Brody, oceanographer Matt Hooper, and local shark expert Quint--hunting the killer beast. There's humor (the stories about their scars), drama (Quint's retelling of the USS Indianapolis tragedy), and heavyweight thrills as the vicious shark attacks their boat. Jaws set the bar high in terms of shark movies, but, alas, its sequels ranged from mediocre (Jaws 2) to silly (Jaws 3D) to just plain bad (Jaws: The Revenge).

2. Deep Blue Sea (1999) - Scientists trying to invent a cure for Alzheimer's disease genetically alter the brains of three mako sharks at an isolated off-shore research station. When a tropical storm cuts off all communications with the coast, the super-intelligent sharks set about destroying the facility--and specifically the humans trapped inside. Director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) keeps the action going almost non-stop in a movie that successfully blends elements of The Poseidon Adventure and Alien. When one of Deep Blue Sea's best-known stars is suddenly devoured, it becomes apparent that no character is safe in this entertaining sharkfest.

3. The Shallows (2016) - Nancy (Blake Lively), a medical student coping with her mother's death from cancer, goes surfing at an isolated beach in Mexico. After noticing the carcass of a humpback whale, she is attacked by a great white shark lurking in the lagoon. Bleeding from a serious leg wound, she swims to a rock that provides temporary safety. Like the earlier, less successful Open Water (2003), The Shallows is part survivalist tale and part character study. As Nancy tries figure out how to travel the short--but potentially deadly--distance to shore, she rediscovers her own strength and will to survive.

4. Bait (2012) - A tsunami washes a great white shark into a coastal town's supermarket...yes, you read that sentence correctly. The survivors climb to temporary safety atop the grocery shelves as they strategize how to escape from the building without being eaten. With the catchy tagline "Cleanup on aisle 7," Bait (aka Bait 3D) mingles thrills and humor effectively to create a lively popcorn movie. The no-star cast works to the film's advantage, as the audience has no idea who will live or die. Bait's low budget limits the shark's appearances, which (as in Jaws) amplifies the creature's impact.

5. Sharknado (2013) - The most ridiculous of all shark movies became a pop culture phenomenon (thanks to social media) and produced five sequels. It's one of those rare films that's so silly that it's entertaining. Imagine sharks being propelled through the air courtesy of a's  such a wacky premise! The original film is played semi-straight with Ian Ziering as a beach bar owner hell bent on rescuing his estranged wife and kids during a flurry of sharknados. Sharknado wasn't the first outlandish shark movie shown on the SyFy channel. It was preceded by gems such as Sharktopus (2010), Dinoshark (2010), and Sand Sharks (2012). But none of them captured the zeitgeist of their time like Sharknado.


  1. Great picks, as always, Rick. Perhaps not to be added, but mentioned: Meg. It is pretty terrible. But, via modern CG featuring maybe the largest Shark ever to appear in a film. And Jason Statham.

    1. I read the book, which was slightly better than the movie. The sequels aren't very good, though.

  2. Save all the bad ones and play them during Shark Weak.

  3. Loved your post, Rick, even though the only film I've seen of these is Jaws. It scared me from ever going in the ocean again - maybe that's why it's the only one I've seen! I always thought that Sharknado must be a hoot, especially with Ian Ziering!