10. Open Water (2003)
The most realistic (which isn’t difficult, admittedly) entry on this list sees a couple go on a scuba trip while on holiday, only to surface and discover the boat has left them stranded in the ocean. As more and more sharks start to circle and their peril builds, their frustrations also bubble to the surface, leading to one majestically relatable argument about their predicament that ends with the brilliant, “Well, I wanted to go skiing!”
9. Sharks In Venice (2008)
It’s the movie in which Stephen Baldwin – by far the most rubbish Baldwin brother – tries to catch some terrible special effects splashing around the canals of the Italian idyll. Best bit? When we discover the reason the killer fish are there in the first place is because the mafia put them there to protect some sunken loot.
8. Thunderball (1965) 6. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Sharks and James Bond have had a long relationship over the years, but it’s never been as good as Thunderball’s epic, climactic fight, in which 007 and his MI6 pals have a mass scuba brawl with bad guy Largo’s wetsuited goons, all the while surrounded by deadly sharks. Top fact: with no special effects to play with, the production would catch tiger sharks at night, put ropes around their tails to wear them out, and then point them in the direction of Sean Connery, with two divers in between, to supposedly catch them if they got a bit too close.
7. Mega-shark Versus Giant Octopus (2009)
You can make as many Sharknados as you want, but you’re never going to get a more marvellously daft moment in a shark movie as the one in this, where our Mega-fish of the title jumps out of the water and eats a plane. Yes, an actual plane.
Aka Mike Myers’ brilliant Bond spoof that reaches its satirical peak with the following exchange, as Dr. Evil is frustrated that his plans for Powers’ demise have hit a bump. Dr. Evil: “You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with laser beams attached to their heads! Now, evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that cannot be done. Would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?” Number Two: “Sea bass.” Dr. Evil: “Right…” Number Two: “They’re mutated sea bass.” Dr. Evil: “Are they ill-tempered?” Number Two: “Absolutely.” Dr. Evil: “Oh well, that’s a start.”
5. Despicable Me 2 (2013)
One of the animated smash’s most stunningly realised sequences actually happens in flashback, as Steve Carell’s Gru is shocked to realise that Benjamin Bratt’s evil, perfectly named, El Macho is still alive. Mainly because the last time anyone saw him was when he was flying a Great White shark covered in dynamite into an exploding volcano. Because that’s just how El Macho he is.
4. Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
When one of your stars will later admit he only did the movie to pay for a new extension on his house, you know you’re on shaky ground. But Jaws 4’s problem isn’t Michael Caine phoning it in. It’s that it posits a world in which a shark descendant of the three the Brody family killed in the first three movies has now “taken it personally” and is out to eat Lorraine Gary’s widowed Ellen Brody, whatever the cost. This idea reaches its stupendous nadir as we cut to Ellen on a plane, flying away from Amity to the safety of the Bahamas, to escape the malicious beast. Only to then slow-zoom down to the ocean 30,000 feet below, in which the shark is swimming like the clappers to keep up.
6. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
3. Jurassic World (2015)
Director Colin Trevorrow got a whole lot right when it came to his rebooting of the previously dormant dinosaur franchise. But most smart of all was the dead shark he used to killer effect. The moment he dangles a deceased Great White from a rope, for a massive mososaurus to jump out and eat for his lunch, he not only set out his stall to the audience – that this is going to be movie-making on a scale you’ve never seen before – he laid down a gauntlet at the feet of the critics. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws famously created the notion of a Summer Blockbuster when it took over the world in the summer of 1975, and here, Trevorrow was sending a message to the cynics in a single image: the blockbuster, appropriately, has evolved.
2. Deep Blue Sea (1999)
In a movie packed with amazing shark moments (not least LL Cool J blowing one up in an oven), the pinnacle can only be this: Samuel L. Jackson in overblown monologue mode, is cut short in his tale of how a previous trip to the Andes ended in him eating his fallen comrades by – irony alert! – a mako with a mutant brain leaping out of a hatch placed conveniently behind him, chomping him around the middle and dragging him down into the depths.
1. Jaws (1975)
The winning entry could only ever have been Steven Spielberg’s perfect ’70s classic. You could pick a million iconic scenes, but for us, it’s the one that starts the whole thing: Susan Backlinie’s Chrissie taking a late-night dip and being wrenched from underneath, thrown this way and that (Spielberg had ropes around her, and crew under the water yanking her about), until the inky-black waters consume her. So powerful it has haunted the dreams of so many for so long – and you never even see a shark.
The Shallows is in cinemas across Dubai from Thursday August 11.