A giant great white shark arrives on the shores of a New England beach resort and wreaks havoc with bloody attacks on swimmers, until a local sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and an old seafarer to hunt the monster down.
Two parallel stories are told. In the first, a group of research scientists from a variety of backgrounds are investigating the strange appearance of items in remote locations, primarily desert regions. In continuing their investigation, one of the lead scientists, a Frenchman named Claude Lacombe, incorporates the Kodály method of music education as a means of communication in their work. The response, in turn, at first baffles the researchers, until American cartographer David Laughlin deciphers the meaning of the response. In the second, electric company lineman and family man Roy Neary and single mother Jillian Guiler are among some individuals in Muncie, Indiana who experience some paranormal activity before some flashes of bright lights in the sky, which they believe to be a UFO. Roy becomes obsessed with what he saw, unlike some others, especially in some form of authority, who refuse to acknowledge their belief that it was a UFO in not wanting to appear crazy. That obsession ... Written by
The scene where Jillian grabs Roy's hand while he is hanging onto the side of the mountain right before they see the landing site resembles that of Cary Grant's hanging on Mount Rushmore before he is helped up in the film North by Northwest (1959). Mount Rushmore is only about 90 miles away from the Devil's Tower. See more »
When the UFOs go through the toll booth and the guard stands up, in the close up shot of his reaction the clock behind him on the wall is flipped, so the entire shot must be a "mirror image" for some reason or other. See more »
[checking the paper]
Hey, you know what's playing tonight? Pinocchio! You guys have never seen Pinocchio, you're in luck!
Aw, who wants to see some dumb cartoon rated 'G' for kids?
How old are you?
You wanna be nine?
Then you're going to go see Pinocchio tomorrow night.
[Brad makes a disgusted gesture, but shuts up]
Roy, that is a terrific way to win over your children.
I'm not serious, I'm just saying that I grew up with Pinocchio, and if kids are still kids, they're going to eat it...
[...] See more »
In the 1980s special edition, the new musical edition features the end credits different, then the fades into well after the end credits to the black screen. See more »
While I do respect Spielberg's talent in certain (but not all) of his later films, he had a rough start in his directing career.
The cinematography is mediocre at best. It is filmed in a very plain and standard fashion. The camera rarely moves except for the most basic following takes. Most of the takes are framed in the same bland manner. The camera is never used in a creative way. You get the impression Spielberg just set up a camera, about head height, said 'go', and let the actors do their thing, rather than paying attention to how he was portraying his scenes.
The acting nothing special. Emotionless government workers, unconvincing family tension, weakly portrayed feelings of wonder and amazement. The motivation of the characters is rarely visible through their expressions or voices.
The plot was thread-bare and predictable. I never once felt that the main characters' would fail on their mission, or wondered what I would see at the end. Rarely have I seen a movie take so long to tell so little. The movie has an annoying habit of constantly pretending as if it were building up to something, and leaving you wondering whether anything dramatic will actually happen. There are few explanations of the events, apparently for the failed goal of making the film 'mysterious'.
The dialog was stiff and agonizingly cliche. The scripting bears the shallow markings of the other films which Spielberg helped write.
The effect were embarrassing. Nearly every effect relied on simple red and blue lights. In some scenes the only effect was a red light shining through a window or a grate. The UFOs were nothing more than red, blue and sometimes white (how alien) light bulbs dangling on strings. Sometimes two at a time, sometimes in threes. The grand finale involves lots of these little light bulbs and something that looked like an upside down christmas tree without the tree (just the light bulbs). The large 'spaceship' (a painfully obvious model) then engages in a tacky game of Simon says with the Earth scientists. The 'alien' reminds you of an arthritic, anorexic muppet. The ending is no different than any other Sci-Fi B-movie. Pitifully predictable ending, and laughable effects. For anyone who ignorantly claims that the effects were good for their time, I would like to point out that this came out the same year as Star Wars.
Overall the film had a feel of pretending to be epic, while really telling a superficial and unconvincing tale. The only reason anyone even remembers this film is the popularity of it's topic (frequently the case for Spielberg), not for the films ability to impact the viewer. It was neither visually nor emotionally engaging. It lacked any signs of creativity or talent. A failure in every aspect.
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