On America’s annual Fourth of July this month, I lazily tuned into a late-night cable broadcast of the ultimate Independence Day movie: Jaws, which haunted my visits to the beach – and that of countless others – long after it was released in 1975. This time around, adrenaline-fueled insomnia kept me glued to the TV for the film’s next two sequels, which I’d never seen before. But I was too pooped by 2:45 a.m. to keep my eyes open for Jaws: The Revenge. I can only assume that a franchise getting sillier by the year had reached an apex of silliness by its fourth go-round.
This guilty-pleasure marathon came despite the fact that Steven Spielberg’s career-making hit (he only directed the first one) and George Lucas’ 1977 Star Wars forever altered the landscape of cinema in my country. (Or should I say the seascape and galaxyscape?) The more introspective narratives with gravitas of the early 1970s gave way to action and adventure, a scenario that bombards us with one mindless summer blockbuster after another, few of them ever as original as their lower-tech antecedents of three decades ago.