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Stacie Ponder – Spielberg Under Siege? Mega-Shark Takes a Bite out of Jaws

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Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) is widely considered not only one of the great horror movies of all time, but one of the best motion pictures ever, period. The direct-to-DVD Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009) is not. But both feature super sharks making with the homicidal chomp chomp, so clearly I have only one course of action available to me, and that’s to pit the sea beasts against each other and find out which deserves to be crowned Toothy King of the Sea. Horror fans, place your bets!

Species and Size:
Jaws: Great White Shark, 25 feet in length
Mega Shark: Megalodon, up to 100 feet in length (estimated)
The Facts: Jaws is large enough to take a nice bite out of a fishing vessel, but Mega Shark is able to take down the Golden Gate Bridge.
Decision Mega Shark, by a landslide. Size counts. 

Territory Terrorized:
Jaws: The waters surrounding resort-location Amity Island
Mega Shark: The entire world
The Facts: Not content to simply cause panic off the shores of a sleepy beach community, Mega Shark is out to put the fear of shark into everyone, everywhere. Witness his attack on a commercial airliner in mid-air.
Decision: Mega Shark…. come on: It’s one thing to pluck swimmers out of the sea, but planes out of the air? No contest

Nemesis, Human:
Jaws: Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider)
Mega-Shark: Oceanographer Emma MacNeil (Debbie Gibson)
The Facts: Brody is a flawed family man whose overriding concern is keeping the citizens of Amity safe. MacNeil is an oceanographer whose overall concern is watching da fishies do neat fishy things.
Decision: Jaws. The stunt casting of former teen singing sensation Gibson is delightful, but Scheider is a real actor. 

Nemesis, Other:
Jaws: N/A
Mega Shark: Giant Octopus
The Facts: There’s no love lost between the great white people eater and the populace of Amity Island, but it’s nothing personal. It’s his nature to eat folks, and it’s theirs to resist being eaten. Mega-Shark, however, has been locked in battle with the giant octopus for millions of years, resting only when the onset of the ice age forced him to take a cryogenic time out. 
Decision: Mega Shark. Talk about holding a grudge!

Special Effects:
Jaws: Full-scale mechanical shark models supplemented with footage of real great whites
Mega Shark: CGI, CGI and more CGI
The Facts: Bringing Jaws to life was an epic battle between man and recalcitrant mechanical shark, fought on the open water. The threat of carpal tunnel syndrome hung over Mega Shark‘s landlocked computer animators.
Decision: Jaws. Practical trumps pixel, baby.

Classic dialogue:
Jaws: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” (Chief Brody to salty old sea dog Quint) 
Mega Shark: “Those guys have been frozen in ice for millions of years. Wouldn’t you be a little horny?” (Dr. Lamar Sanders to shady black ops type Allan Baxter)
The Facts: Many hands helped transform Peter Benchley’s novel into a screenplay, including Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Howard Sackler. Mega Shark was written by Jack Perez, of America’s Deadliest Home Video non-fame.This might have something to do with, you know, the relative quality of the scripts.
Decision: Jaws. Sorry, Mega Shark, but you’re gonna need a better writer.

Victims:
Jaws: Various beachgoers.
Mega Shark: Various boat passengers, airplane passengers, bridge crossers, etc.
The Facts: From the opening sequence, in which a young woman is pulled under the black water during a late-night skinny dip, to the moment a child’s mangled water toy washes ashore, the familiarity of the great white’s victims have made audiences afraid to go in the water for decades. Mega Shark is all about size; while attacking a 747 is undeniably spectacular, the ridiculousness of “shark vs. plane” hasn’t made anyone afraid to fly.
Decision: Jaws, because it did for swimming what Psycho did for showers. 

Sequels:
Jaws: Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D, Jaws: The Revenge.
Mega Shark: N/A.
The Facts: Subsequent adventures involving the Jaws family are mediocre at best (and let’s face it, the less said about Jaws: The Revenge, the better), but at least the movies are available should you find yourself hankering for some brand-familiar great white action. Mega Shark has yet to spawn any Mega Sequels, but the ending of the film leaves the door open. Who will the deep-sea behemoth battle next? Only time will tell.
Decision: Jaws — you can’t argue with numbers

The End:
Jaws: Jaws goes one-on-one with Chief Brody.
Mega Shark: Meg and the plus-size cephalopod duke it out one last time.
The Facts: Brody throws a tank of pressurized air into the great white’s mouth, and then shoots it just to be sure. This causes the shark’s head to go boom and make a big mess. After a confusing CGI tangle with the giant octopus, Mega Shark quietly sinks back into the murky depths of the sea.
Decision: Jaws. Exploding heads always win.

Overall Winner: Jaws.
I think horror fans (and probably the moviegoing populace at large) would have my head if Jaws didn’t come out on top in this battle of the fins. I mean, it is one of the greatest movies of all time. That said, for a while I thought it was gonna be close: I mean, Mega Shark takes down the Golden Gate Bridge and a freakin’ airplane! In the end, though, the outcome of this match proves that style can’t overcome substance and that Jaws is a classic for many reasons, one of which is the exploding head. If there’s a Jaws 5 on the horizon, though, it wouldn’t hurt if he went after the Statue of Liberty. I’m just sayin’.

A fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl so she’d have a platform from which she could tell everyone that, say, Friday the 13th rules. She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.

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