JAWS: The Game

JAWS: The Game

Ravensburger’s Jaws board game

Horror movies are a great source of inspiration for games. The bigger the horror movie, the more potential for success the game has, and when you take something like Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and make it into a game, provided it’s a fun game, you can pretty much well guarantee you are onto a winner.

Jaws is the blockbuster film from the 70s, based on a book by Peter Benchley, that launched Spielberg’s career and has had several video games based upon it, such as Jaws Unleashed on the Playstation 2 and PC and Jaws: Ultimate Predator on the Nintendo 3DS, not to mention a Super Nintendo game called simply Jaws, that came out in 1987, but more recently several board game companies have swam up to the licence and eaten it with much ferocity. We have had the inevitable Jaws Monopoly, the Funkoverse Strategy Game: Jaws (which comes with two smaller sized Funko Pops to appease the worldwide cult of Pop fans), and this game, from Ravensburger, titled simply Jaws.

Ravensburger make some amazingly thematic board game (if you haven’t tried Villainous, give it a go. It is Disney themed but lots of fun), and Jaws is one of those games that follows the basic plot of the film. This game is a three versus one game, with three players playing Quint, Brody and Hooper as they attempt to destroy the fourth player, who plays the big shark. This game is right in fashion of the current video game trend of have one vs many games like Dead by Daylight (also coming soon as a board game) and Evil Dead the Game.

This gameplay is divided into two halves. This first half of the game, on one side of the board, has a map of Amity Island and sees the human players attempting to stop Jaws from eating swimmers and at the same time attempt to locate the shark with location barrels. Each player has a series of things they can do in their turn which is thematic to the character, as is their extra special abilities, like Hooper’s fish finder for example.

Act 1 – from the shark players POV

Quint and Hooper spend their time searching for the shark by placing location barrels in the water, which the shark attempts to avoid, whilst Brody shuts beaches and delivers more barrels to the docks for them to use… Brody’s piece doesn’t go in the water because you know, Brody doesn’t like the water.

You might be asking yourself,’ but how does the shark avoid being located? Doesn’t the player have a piece on the boards?’ The answer to that is no, the shark player uses a separate notebook to record where on the map, signified by map locations, and doesn’t place their piece on the board until they have been spotted. They move around eating swimmers secretly, only revealing where they are if they go through a space with a barrel, or if they are spotted from the beach by Brody, or when they chow down on a beach goer.

Each turn, an Amity Event phase card is revealed which shows a special ability one of the players may have in that turn, but also deposits more swimmers in the water!

This first part of the game is finished when one of two things happen: either the shark ends up with two barrels attached and their position fully revealed, or they eat nine swimmers. How the Act Two of the game plays out is decided by how successful either team have been. If the shark eats more swimmers, it gets a higher amount of special ability cards in the second act, but if the humans stop them early enough, they get extra gear to stop the shark.

For the second act sees the board turn over to reveal a sunken version of the shop The Orca, where undamaged images of the ship overlays are placed on top. Cards are issues to either team regarding their success in the previous act. For example, if the shark ate five swimmers before having two barrels attached, they would receive six shark ability cards, and the crew would get seven pieces of crew gear.

Act 2 – from the shark players POV

Each turn the shark attacks the boat and the crew prepare themselves for the attack. The shark player reveals each turn where they MIGHT attack, giving the crew an opportunity to be ready to defend, and play continues as the shark either slowly sinks the boat, attacking the crew and having them lose their life points, or the crew are able to kill the shark with lucky dice rolls in combination with their gear.

Obviously there is a lot more to this than my summary here, and I suggest you take a look at Becca Scott’s How to play Jaws YouTube Video ( How to Play Jaws – YouTube ) before purchase if you want a better idea of how to play.

The Jaws board game instruction manual

Thematically, this game is amazing. The pieces all represent their characters well, and the dividing of the two acts is a clever way to play the game. The instructions are clear and concise and well-illustrated, with some great examples of play.

The player cards from Jaws

The game is lots of fun and that to be expected from designers Prospero Hall, who gave us the previously mentioned Villainous, as well as other thematically on-point games like Horrified, Fast and Furious: Highway Heist and Godzilla: Tokyo Clash.

 I do have to say I have one problem with it and that is the player count. This is a three vs one game, and whilst I appreciated that the instructions say that it can be played with one player playing all the crew, or two players sharing one crew member, but it is much less fun. When three players are the crew there is a lot of discussion as to what to do next, where with one player, they sit studiously in silence for several minutes while they decide what each crew member will do. As the shark player, knowing where you are in act one and watching as three people talk about how they are NO WHERE near you is a great deal of joy, and that’s what games are all about, right? Fun and interaction!

Score: ***1/2

Deep Blue Sea (1999)

One from the rewatch pile…

Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Film: You have just got to love a good monster movie, and it’s especially great when that film has a monster that is either based in reality, or is reality tweaked to some tiny degree to make it even more fearsome, or in the case of a film like, say Zombeavers or Night of the Lepus, a tiny bit fearsome.

So, of course everyone loves a good shark movie; hell, if the Sharknado films are anything to go by, everyone loves even a BAD shark movie! Deep Blue Sea came along at just the right time: The 90s, in general, was a wasteland of bad horror being made as studios tried to tap into what made the 80s franchises so great, but missed either the point, or the boat.

Sure this decade gave us Scream, which in itself was a parody of Craven’s own work, and The Blair Witch Project, which was more about clever marketing than good filmmaking or storytelling but in general, horror had temporarily gone the way of the western.

Deep Blue Sea was somewhat of a surprise. Written by Valentine’s Donna and Wayne Power, and Bait’s Duncan Kennedy, one thing from the 80s this film did utilise was Renny Harlin as director, who is probably best know for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, and a whole bunch of action films from the 90s, including Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2.

Deep Blue Sea tells of a scientific facility in the ocean known as Aquatica, where scientists, including Dr. McAlester (Saffron Burrows), Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgård) and other are attempting to show off to a potential investor, Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) their research into getting proteins from genetically altered shark’s brains and using them to repair the broken pathways in the brains of sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease.

The problem is the sharks have gotten smarter, and even though shark wrangler Carter Blake (Thomas Jane) has suspicions, even he isn’t aware of just how smart, and very soon the sharks have figured out how to flood the facility, and using the staff as their very own human smorgasbord…

This film honestly could have been called ‘Deep Blue Trope’ as it took generic formulas from 80s slasher films and turned them into a monster movie. This is basically Friday the 13th, with the stereotypical teens (the cool black guy, the oversexed couple, the frigid final girl and the cool tough guy… and some throwaway characters you would never care about) in an abandoned area with no way out and something stalking them, which is a shark instead of a serial killer: it even does the killer POV camera shots! Maybe the juxtaposition of these two horror tropes is what makes the film kind of interesting.

The movie, yes, is generic, but I have to admit that I have a big problem with just how smart the sharks became. An animal working out that a gun is something that can hurt you is one thing, but figuring what video cameras do and then disabling them, with no context, is quite another, and ultimately, Jane’s character’s realisation as to the shark’s motivation, we’ll, even for a monster movie is pretty far-fetched.

There is some nice early appearances of some actors who went on to the greater things. Samual L. Jackson was still an actor when this was made, and didn’t just play Samual L. Jackson, like he does these days.

The real tragedy of this film is the closing credits are choked with an awful rap by LL Cool J, who also plays the chef who works at the facility. I also must admit to feeling sorry for Saffron Burrows: Even though her character is possibly the most important one in the film, and is even the only human on the cover, she actually doesn’t get a cover credit, and instead Skarsgård and Michael Rapaport, who aren’t in it as often, do. That’s a pretty sad indictment on the film’s release.

Score: ***

Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian, region B Bluray release of the film which runs for approximately 105 minutes and is presented in a satisfactory 2.35:1 image with a pretty spectacular DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: There’s a couple of Ok extras on this disc.

First there is a commentary with Harlin and Jackson, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t recorded together. Jackson talks about the story of the film, and Harlin looks more at the making of the film and the processes.

When Sharks Attack is a selection of behind the scenes footage with an occasional sound byte from a cast or crew member, which, to summarise, comes together as ‘sharks are scary’.

Sharks of the Deep Blue Sea looks at all the various effects used to make the special effects sharks work.

There is a trailer for the film.

There’s a bunch of deleted scenes as well, and, as expected, the optionally accompanying commentary does little to convince otherwise.

Score: ***

WISIA: Deep Blue Sea is an amusing distraction that I have watched a couple of times, but realistically, if it weren’t for a sequel coming out, I probably would not have revisited it.

Summer Review: The Shallows (2016)

Welcome back to our next Summer holidays film, in this case, we have abandoned piranha and returned to the beach for more sharky goodness. This one is from the to watch pile…
The Shallows (2016)

The Cover of the Australian Bluray release of The Shallows

Film: I was pretty pumped when I first saw the trailer for this film at the cinema. There were three things that really piqued my interest. The first, was that it was a shark film mixed with a serial killer film: abandoned location and a girl trapped whilst a killer stalks her. All the comparisons made about Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers reversed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read comparisons made between the cinematic serial killer and the ‘dead eyes’ of a shark! Here we have that idea reversed and we see a shark acting with the same dead eyes and intentions!

The second is, believe it or not, even though I am a nerd through and through, I love watching surfing and I love the beach. I actually worked at an average job for far too long just because it was beside the sea, and I could go down to the beach whenever I wanted. The three months of summer made it all worthwhile. So I have seen almost every surf movie I can get my hands on, from the old Frankie and Annette things, to Blue Crush and then to docos like Riding Giants! Even though I am more an inside guy, I love looking at the seas and the sun.

Which brings me to the final, and possibly not quite as honourable reason: bikinis, and in this case Blake Lively in a bikini.

The Shallows: Blake Lively is not so tough on the eyes.

Let’s move on, shall we…

The Shallows tells of Nancy (Blake Lively) who, after the death of her mum, decides to take a break from medical school and travel for a while. She visits a beach in Mexico that her mum went to in 1991 when she was pregnant with her… just to get some kind of connection to her.

It’s an abandoned, secret, ‘locals only’ sort of a beach, with very few knowing of its existence.

She is dumped by her friend, who stays back at the motel, and finds herself on this beach that few know about, all by herself except for two locals having a surf.

She spends the day surfing and after the two locals leave, attempts to catch one last wave, when she is attacked by a shark.

The Shallows: blood fills the water!

The shark knocks her off her board and takes a decent bite into her leg, and leaves her stuck on a small rock that juts from the ocean… but how will she escape? Who knows she’s there?

… and what will happen to her when the tide comes in and covers the rock she’s on…

The first thing that strikes me about this film is how wonderfully it is shot. The seascapes are beautiful (it’s Lord Howe Island, what do you expect), but the director, Juame Collet-Serra, who directed The Orphan and Non-Stop, has utilised some amazing overlays to convey Facetime calls and the time. The story is told quite well through these overlays.

There are unfortunately some dodgy CGI effects. Not horrifyingly bad, but they stick out. When you see the film and see the dolphins and the jellyfish, you’ll know what I mean, that’s not to diminish how good the shark looks though, as it is pretty spectacular.

Considering the film is more or less Lively by herself for the entire film and is essentially a monologue of her survival, she does a great job, and is convincing in the role. 

What we have here is a decent thriller, with some great survival red herrings, a good lead and some cool set pieces, but it doesn’t set the world on fire. It strikes all the right chords, but still just isn’t quite the thriller it could be. There’s some X-factor that it seems to be missing, but that could just be that it’s not Jaws.

Score: ***

The Shallows bluray menu

Format: The release reviewed in the Australian multi-region bluray, which runs for about 86 minutes (I do like a short film now and again). It is presented in a super clear and vibrant 2.39:1 with a cracking DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with a trailer for the 2016 Ghostbusters film, before getting to the menu screen.

There are three deleted scenes, which as usual the film is better off without.

Shooting in the Shallows discusses the making of the film, and the difficulties of shooting a film in an aquatic environment, both at a beach, and in a tank.

When Sharks Attack looks at the scientific aspects of shark attacks, with an interview with a shark attack victim.

How to Build a Shark looks at the creation of the CGI shark, from drawing to maquette to actual effect.

Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island looks at the beauty of Lord Howe Island, and how it is an important part of the film.

There is also a preview for Ghostbusters.

Score: ****

WISIA: It will probably get watched again just because I like the scenery of the beach.

The Shallows: SHARK!!! (and some product placement of a GoPro)

First Day of Summer Review: Jaws (1975)

It’s the first day of summer, and what better way to celebrate than with a cinematic classic all about sun and fun. Here’s a corker from the re-watch pile…
Jaws (1975)

My unfortunately damaged cover of the bluray of Jaws

Film: Realistically, I shouldn’t have to write anything in this part of the review, because you’ve all seen Jaws. All I should have to write is ‘it’s Jaws, it’s good’.

If you haven’t seen Jaws, you need to go and see it. Now. Sure it’s not my favourite film in the world, but it’s an important film, it’s a well made film, it’s a well cast film. It’s fun, it’s horrifying, and if you live in Australia on the coast, it’s perpetually topical!   

I first saw Jaws on the big screen as a very young kid: God only knows what my parents were thinking, but i was both in awe of it, and scared to death by it. Actually, I have Jaws to thank for introducing me to ‘the shower’ because after I saw it, I didn’t want to be immersed in water again… even though I carried around a rubber shark for months afterwards, and that shark shared every shower with me!

Jaws was directed by legendary director Steven Spielberg, based on a novel, by Peter Benchley, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Carl Gottlieb.

Jaws: Roy Scheider as Chief Brody

So for those who haven’t seen it (which I have just discovered includes my wife!!!) here’s a brief synopsis: Amity Island is a beautiful, sleepy town which in summer is invaded by tourists who enjoy its beaches and sunny disposition.

This year, though, is different, as Police Chief Brady (Roy Scheider) finds his normally peaceful existence invaded by a shark… but not just any shark, a gigantic, hungry great white shark, which is killing again and again. He enlists the help of a marine biologist, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and an old shark hunter, Quint (Robert Shaw) to hunt the shark, but will all of them survive?
I can’t really criticise the film as it’s probably a perfect monster movie, even though it’s not one of my favourites (which is why I have only given it 4 stars), but it’s certainly a must watch, especially in this beautifully restored edition.

Score: ****

The Australian bluray menu of Jaws

Format: This Australian bluray release of Jaws runs for about 2 hours and 4 minutes and is presented in a beautifully restored widescreen 2.35:1 visual with a spectacular DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track. Possibly the best film restoration I’ve seen to date.

Score: *****

Extras: Extras, extras, extras? Boy oh boy, do we have extras!!

First, there’s a bunch of deleted scenes and outtakes that are interesting, but really don’t add much to the film and it is better off without them.

The Making of Jaws is a spectacular, 2 hour mainly retrospective documentary that really, if you have any questions about how this film was made or the origins of the story, they’ll be answered here!

Jaws: the iconic opening sequence

The Shark is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of Jaws is a series of ten small fan-made featurettes, exclusive to this bluray release, that are a passionate look at the making and perpetuity of the film. 
Jaws: the Restoration looks at how Jaws was restored for this bluray release and the 100th anniversary of Universal Pictures. As a fan of cinema, this is a pretty interesting watch.

From the Vaults is a look at the making of Jaws, but made in the 70s with some great archival footage.

Jaws Archives has 4 series of still galleries celebrating the making and international marketing of the film. Normally I’m not a huge fan of still galleries but this shows a hell of a lot of the posters and Day bills for the advertising of the movie, so it gets a pass.

Last, but not least, we have the original theatrical trailer for the film.

This edition also comes with a digital copy of the film.

Score: *****

WISIA: Its not just one of the greatest Monster movies ever made, it’s one of the best movies ever made, everyone should watch it multiple times!

Jaws: a little underwater head