1978 - PG - 116 Mins.
|Director: Jeannot Szwarc|
|Producer: Richard D Zanuck, David Brown|
|Written By: Carl Gottlieb, Michael Butler|
|Starring: Roy Scheider, Murray Hamilton, Lorraine Gary, Joseph Mascalo, Keith Gordon |
|Review by: John Ulmer
A film like "Jaws 2" proves that we can, indeed, get too much of a good thing. Action and shark over substance and character development. Somewhere along the way "Jaws" went from being about deep, intelligent characters in intense situations to shallow teenagers in B-monster-movie moments.
"Jaws 2," or "Jaws2" (no space in between "s" and "2"), takes place four years after the horrid events in Amity, seen in the first film. Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider, commonly mistaken for Rob Schneider with today's audience) is a veteran of a shark attack, of course. And like most sequels involving characters who once battled a beast of some sort and survived, Brody is now the official expert on sharks. When a boat blows up off shore, Brody suspects a shark. When a killer whale is found dead with chomp marks, Brody suspects a shark. Heck, you could blow up the state of Arkansas and Brody would probably think it's a shark.
Soon Brody loses his job because the town mayor (Murray Hamilton, reprising his role shortly in this film because he had to stop filming to attend to his sick wife) doesn't like poor Brody, even after the events of the first film. Then Brody's seventeen-year-old son goes out on a sail boat and before you can go, "Duh-duh-duh-duh" JAWS is coming at him and his friends. Brody goes, tries to save them, and you can guess what the outcome is.
Okay, here are some things I noticed that hindered this film:
1. The first thing that hits you over the head here is how this film is painfully a copy in every way of the first film, only about ten times worse. There is no suspense--they show the shark from the beginning on. In a documentary made just for the "Jaws2" DVD, the director says that "The shark has already been seen, so there's no suspense--you might as well show it." Well, this is a bit true--I hate when horror sequels wait till the end to show the creature ("Predator 2") even though we've seen them in the first. But the way they do it here is painfully un-suspenseful. The film really contains no sense of suspense.
2. You'd think that everyone in the town would have learned their lesson last time: Brody was right about a shark, and he saved the day. Here we see everyone turning back to their old ways and ignoring Brody. You could give excuses for this, but the fact of the matter remains: It's just another retread of the first film, done on a much lesser scale.
3. The shark here is shown too much--he looks like a rubber ducky in a bathtub. Kids scream as it attacks boats and helicopters--yes, helicopters (that looks strange on paper)--and the shark comes out of the water head first to swim forward. Now, unlike the first film where the shark was never shown very well--because of mechanical problems or not, they still didn't show it--they show the shark many, many times here. And unlike the first when they DID show the shark, in "Jaws2" they make the shark look utterly unrealistic. In the first the rubber shark swam like a shark--this thing swims like a giant piece of rubber in an ocean.
4. The director obviously went for action over story: Steven Spielberg masterfully crafted an instense and scary film, yet at the same time provided a very interesting character study. Here, we just see blood, guts, and big rubber sharks--something that might look good in a B-horror-movie, but not in a "Jaws" film.
5. What are the remote chances that another 25-foot Great White Shark (capitalized for effect) would be off the coast off the small town Amity twice? Perhaps this will answer that question:
After finding a killer whale, Brody asks a marine biologist (filling in Richard Dreyfuss' most-missed shoes), "You don't think if one shark dies, another shark could come and"--he gets cut off by the marine biologist, who says, "Sharks don't take things personally, Mr. Brody." Well, that's funny, according to the tagline for the forth film they do. Perhaps that is one of the confusing elements of this film. Is the shark attacking because Brody killed the other one four years ago? Or is it just an odd coincedence? We may never know.
Steven Spielberg had the smarts to move on after the first project, as did Richard Dreyfuss, and Roy Scheider should have said "no," too, because you can't flog a dead fish and expect people to jump. (Did that make sense? Sorry, I had a good catch-phrase in my head but it didn't come out right.) The first film should have been a stand alone, but in the case that they should make a sequel to one of the most cherished films of all time, for heaven's sake, make it good!