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Movie Name: Jaws 2
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date(s): June 16, 1978
MPAA Rating: PG
The waters of Amity once again are menaced by a shark. When suspicious deaths begin occurring around the island, Chief Marcus Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to shut down the beaches again, much to the dismay of Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) and realtor mogul Peterson (Joseph Mascolo). Brody’s worst fears are realized when he learns his sons have gone out on the water with a group of friends, and the shark will stop at nothing quench his endless hunger.
After the success of Jaws and the popularity of The Godfather Part II, Jaws 2 was an early entry into the sequel mania that swept the film world. When Steven Spielberg refused to direct the sequel, John D. Hancock was given the job but was then fired and replaced by Jeannot Szwarc. A number of different scripts and filming ideas exist for the sequel. The movie mostly received middle of the road reviews from critics (who compared it heavily to the first film) and it also spawn the famous catch tagline “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.”
Jaws 2 amps up the horror aspect of the story with more gore and more jumps. The movie also goes for the classic horror feel by having the shark menace a group of horny teens out for fun (and sex). This really diminishes the plot and look of the original Jaws which was highly inventive and more realistic. Here, Brody goes through the same problems he did before and ends up taking on the shark alone. It doesn’t even make much sense that a new shark has come to feast (they try to have it make sense in a couple throw away lines). I particularly like the scene where the lady goes to throw a gas can at the shark, practically showers herself in gasoline then decides to shoot the shark with a flare…good plan lady.
Despite plot and script flaws, the movie is kind of entertaining in its pacing and scares. It is not aided by a particularly stellar cast. The young actors are young and show it…it isn’t like Spielberg who always seems to get good performances out of his kid actors (or maybe he just does better casting). The kids aren’t awful, but it does feel like you are watching a basic Friday the 13th type of movie that didn’t try very hard (which is ironic since the film was one of the most expensive sequels ever made). The senior actors are good…The only reason Roy Scheider came back was that he got dropped from The Deer Hunter, and Lorraine Gary gets a more expanded role as his wife. Murray Hamilton returns for a small part, and Joseph Mascolo had most of his parts cut with the firing of Hancock. Dreyfuss’ character Hooper is mentioned and conveniently unable to respond.
There were a number of improvements made to the problematic Jaws shark (previously called Bruce…I don’t know if they named this shark). There are a number of scenes where it looks very real and it always is classic when the shark’s fin cuts above the water and the John Williams music starts pumping. Near the end of the movie when it becomes “attack heavy” however the shark looks as fake as ever. I just wish the attack on the water skier was as cool as the poster that has the shark rising up behind her.
Jaws 2 is fun but stupid. All the stuff you expect to happen happens, and all the bad decisions that could be made are made. Despite the bad clichés found in this film, the movie doesn’t even measure up to the horrible sequels Jaws 3-D (1983) and the ultimate bad film Jaws: The Revenge (1987).