Which Is The Better Film: Jaws or Terminator?

Jaws (1975) or The Terminator (1984)?

The films compare easily to one another.  They are, in essence, the same sort of movie.  Each one features a preternaturally powerful predator, pitched against an everyman character who lacks resources but is very resourceful.  Both films make excellent use of the intimidating, otherworldly opponent to personify the struggles of the protagonist’s own life: Police Chief Brody’s loss of control in his life, and doomed marriage; the seeming meaningless of Sarah Connor’s dead-end life.

Culturally speaking, both the shark and the cyborg fulfill our need to find a justified target of our violence, and both are capable of absorbing many times more punishment than anyone we will meet in life.  It becomes a cultic activity to watch the film, act out our redemptive violence, and leave the theater justified and assured of our humanity, in contrast to shark, to the machine.

The films themselves are both masterpieces.  Both have unforgettable, identifiable soundtracks and visual cues.  Both contain brilliant one-liners.  (“I’ll be back” vs. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”)  Both spawned several inferior sequels.

So I leave you with the question.  Which is the better film?  And why?


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