Jaws 2 (1978)

jaws 2 poster 1978 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Better shark, more jumps

Not up to the quality of the original, too horror and less of a thriller

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Jaws 2

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  June 16, 1978

MPAA Rating:  PG

jaws 2 ending shark

Man, you kids think you’re having a bad day…look at me!

Amity Island is trying to get back to normal years after the shark attacks that rocked the quiet community.  Sheriff Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) and his wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary) are raising their two sons Michael (Mark Gruner) and Sean (Marc Gilpin) while Ellen works to open a big resort run by Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo).  When two divers disappear near the wreck of the Orca and a water skiing accident immediately follows, Sheriff Brody worries that the old danger has returned.  A shark is patrolling the waters of Amity, and Brody learns that his sons and their friends could become the next victims.

Directed by Jeannot Szwarc, Jaws 2 is a man-vs-nature horror movie.  A sequel to Jaws from 1975, the film faced production problems and mixed reviews, but a strong box office return.

jaws gasoline explosion

Nothing is more refreshing than a gasoline bath…I’m glad I managed to completely coat myself

I think I actually saw Jaws 2 before I saw Jaws and as a result I have a soft spot for the movie.  When I finally did see Jaws, I expected a more Jaws 2 type horror movie (instead of a thinking horror movie).  Jaws 2 is what you’d want from a shark movie…if you weren’t going to watch Jaws.

The movie sets up a lot more shark-human encounters than the first film.  You have water-skiers, scuba divers, and sailors all facing off against the massive shark (which just happens to attack the same lazy New England town of Amity).  The movie ends in a showdown with the shark between the sailing teens and feels more like a traditional horror movie in this sense (and surprisingly more of the teens aren’t killed).  It doesn’t have as much intense drama as the first movie, nor does it have much heart…but it still does possess a little (unlike later sequels).

jaws shark attacks helicopter

Shark vs Helicopter…Winner: Shark

Roy Scheider returns as Chief Brody in the film and like the previous film, no one believes him or listens to him.  It is pretty telling that after a massive shark feeding frenzy that Murray Hamilton returns as mayor (instead of losing the job from incompetence), and the movie does some work to boost Lorrain Gary’s character.  Days of Our Lives villain Stefano aka Joseph Mascolo is kind of shoehorned in as the new heavy who wants Amity to remain open, and the film brings in a lot of fresh faces for the teens being menaced by the shark…I particularly admire that goofy, chubby (by 1978 standards) best friend played by Gary Springer doesn’t end up shark food like most of the parallel characters in horror movies are quickly dispatched (nerds and heavy guys always seem to die).

jaws ending chief brody roy scheider

Bite It!

The one improvement in Jaws 2 is potentially the shark.  It still has a lot of work to do but I feel like you see more of the shark and that it doesn’t take away from the “realism” of the shark (I’d argue that the sharks in the Jaws franchise often don’t seem to move like real sharks due to now multiple videos of sharks you can see every day).  Like other criticisms of the movie, the style of the film just doesn’t match Spielberg’s look and direction.

Jaws 2 may not be the best movie, but it is a fun movie.  For me a lot of that is nostalgia.  The film had tons of production problems (including Szwarc being brought in to replace John D. Hancock after Spielberg refused and issues with Scheider’s contract after he got dropped from The Deer Hunter), and that never bodes well for a movie’s final product.  Despite that, Jaws 2 has some fun, and it moves relatively quickly as the shark slices through the water and its victims.  Jaws 2 was followed by Jaws 3-D in 1983.

Related Links:

Jaws (1975)

Jaws 3-D (1983)

Jaws:  The Revenge (1987)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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