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*** out of ****
As a sequel to an immensely popular classic, Jaws 2 had a lot to live up to, and while it doesn't reach the level of sheer terror of the original, it's still effective in creating thrills, some scares, and excitement. The biggest flaw is the pace, since the scenes on land drag on over and over. These moments hurt an otherwise entertaining and often fun motion picture.
The plot is mostly a re-hash of Jaws. It even takes place in the same town, Amity. It's been years since the first shark was killed and Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) begins to have his suspicions of another great white in the vicinity when two divers are reported missing, a boating accident that results in the mysterious disappearance of a mother and daughter, and a killer whale washed ashore with large bites all over it. Brody voices his beliefs to the mayor (Murray Hamilton), who, along with real estate developer Glenn Petersen (Joseph Mascolo), disregard this because of the current production of a hotel on the beach.
Brody's constant paranoia of the situation eventually gets him fired. Meanwhile, his two sons, Mike and Sean, sneak off to sail with a group of other teens. When another shark attack occurs and is confirmed, Brody sets off to find his sons before it's too late.
I've heard a lot of interesting things involving the making of this sequel. Apparently, Spielberg and Dreyfuss were interested in returning, but couldn't due to their filming of Close Encounters. The original story was supposed to be more character-oriented, without as much focus on the teens in peril, but when Spielberg had to back out the studio executives got nervous and went with Szwarc to make a more formulaic and "effective" sequel. Roy Scheider would be the only big star from the original who would return.
I'm a huge admirer of Steven Spielberg's film, and it would be hard for any other director to equal, much less surpass, his filmmaking techniques. Director Jeannot Szwarc does an overall solid job here. He knows what made the first film effective and holds off long camera shots of the shark for a while (in my opinion, maybe a little too long). The beginning of the film does a nice job of creating interest and a good set-up is appreciated. However, this set-up goes on a little too long. A half-hour would have been just fine, but Szwarc takes nearly 75 minutes for the film to focus on the shark hunting down the sailing teens.
You may wonder why I voice my complaint for this when in the original the shark didn't make it's first full appearance until near the end. Well, in that film's case there were three great characters (only one of whom returned) and some classic suspense sequences to crank up the tension (Dreyfuss and Scheider's exploration of the abandoned boat, anyone?). While Szwarc should be noted for trying to build up momentum, he slows down everything a little too much and thrill seekers looking for non-stop action may find it disappointing, and it might be more up their alley to look for Deep Blue Sea (which is considerably faster moving, though is an overall weaker film).
It is initially interesting to see how this sequel builds up its story with such scenes as the examination of a dead killer whale and a diver who runs into the shark, and it is quite entertaining to revisit Amity again, but Brody's constant back and forth debates with the town committee get tiresome after awhile. We know he's right and they're wrong and the film makers should have realized that these arguments get old quickly. To be fair, Scheider's performance does put in a bit more tension into these scenes, but it takes something more clever than that to keep things moving at a brisk pace.
The film does finally get moving in the last 35 or so minutes, and it's in those moments that make the film the overall effective sequel it is. The constant shark attacks deliver the goods. Szwarc knows how to milk tension into these scenes and doesn't disappoint. The finale is particularly an exercise in creating seat-gripping suspense. It's almost a match for the conclusion to Jaws. The final showdown between Brody and the shark is just as memorable and edge-of-the-seat as his final confrontation with the other great white in the original. John Williams' score is as effective as ever and serves to heighten the tension factor by a notch.
Admittedly, there are some implausibilities abound. Great whites aren't nearly that aggressive and for one that eats as much as it does, it's really quite hungry. The shark even pulls down a helicopter in one scene to presumably eat the pilot (In the TV version, there's an added scene of the shark trying to chomp the pilot). Brody's plan to kill the shark relies on quite a bit of luck, though I won't complain as much about this since it is the film's highlight sequence and is an example of masterful direction.
Most people tend to ridicule the visual effects in the Jaws series. In my opinion, they're more effective and significantly better than CGI renditions of animals seen in the more recent thrillers like Deep Blue Sea, Anaconda, and Lake Placid. Szwarc's high angle shots of the great white are the best, evoking a sense of terror by just looking at the top of this ferocious animal. With an animatronic shark, it's not nearly as mobile as what can be rendered by computer technology, but it beats having the animal look like a refugee from a video game. There are also other things that set this film above those aforementioned movies, such as restraint, seriousness, and no annoying over-reliance on mostly unfunny self-deprecating humor.
To mention how effective the script is would probably be a moot point. Anybody watching this movie wants to see it for the shark attacks. Howard Sackler and Carl Gottlieb do a reasonable job of repeating what was successful in the original story without completely ripping it off. This time around, there's no compelling monologue like Robert Shaw's retelling of the fate of the men on the U.S.S. Indianapolis, but the screenwriters can be credited for not writing any laughably ludicrous dialogue. When the stranded teens argue, everything they say is reasonable within the context of the situation they're in.
The film's performances are overall decent. Roy Scheider has always been one of my favorite actors; he's easily the best here and is very good as the man determined to save his sons. Martin Brody is still by all means a great character, and Scheider's portrayal of him as an everyman caught up in a terrifying situation makes it extremely easy to sympathize with him. Lorraine Gray is decent as his wife and though she gets more screen time than before she's still not given a chance to fully flesh out her character. And, boy, we all saw her character develop in Jaws the Revenge, but we all know how that turned out. Murray Hamilton and Joseph Mascolo are appropriately sneaky and sly as the town mayor and real estate developer. They're really not so much people as they are those who have to be wrong all the time. It's a cliche, and it's not as effective as it was in Jaws. I can't really say which actor who portrays the teens does the best job. They're all fairly equal and they are pretty good at not annoying us, which makes it easier to feel for them when the shark attacks begin.
It's basically like this: when the film takes place on land, it's sometimes slow-moving and not always interesting. When it's on water, it's often exciting and tense, with suspense that sometimes equals the original. It's definitely not as great a thriller as Jaws, but it is a worthy sequel and certainly is better than the likes of Deep Blue Sea, Anaconda, and Lake Placid.
It's strange, I wonder how this film would have been received if it was
directed by Spielberg instead of an unknown. Because this film is about
as intense as they come. Granted, it lacks in the personal
relationships and that is what made Jaws such the classic that it is.
We all know that there is no way a sequel to Jaws could ever live up to
what we experienced with Jaws, but this film is about as scary as they
Here, I must admit that the characters take a back seat to the shark. But is that necessarily wrong? We have already seen the shark in the first one so the mystery is gone, so now the only thing to do is make sure the audience is scared out of their minds. And that I can assure you is done with just as much perfection and attention to detail as the original.
Take for example the opening scene where two divers are looking in the Orca ( Quint's sunken ship from the first film ). They are playfully taking pictures in front of the sunken ship. Then suddenly, a shot from behind them, and the ominous music. You know they are going to be eaten, but the scene is done with so much tension and perfect pacing that you are scared all over again. And when the shark finally does strike, we experience that primal emotion all over again.
The story is a fairly simple one but affective at the same time. Brody ( Roy Scheider ) is convinced there is another shark in the waters off Amity and he is having a hard time convincing the town idiots that he is right. But this time his two sons are a little older and they will be involved in the final confrontation with the shark.
There is one other scene that I wanted to point out and that is a scene where a picture is being developed. Brody is given a camera of the missing divers from the beginning. The developer then tells him that the pictures are about to be processed. As he stands in the red room, waiting for the pictures to develop, he knows. He has that feeling. Something is going to show up on the picture. And sure enough we see it. The mouth. The black, doll-like lifeless eye appears in the corner of the frame and Brody knows. He knows what it is. This is such a powerful scene in the film and it is directed with such skill that it looks like it could have been directed by Spielberg.
I think Jaws 2 is a great film and it is just as scary if not a little scarier than the first, but what it lacks is that it's characters don't have time to develop. We don't care as much about these ones as we did about Hooper and Brody and Quint to some degree. But that is a small detail, because the film does it's job and that is to scare us. Look for one more scene where Tina and her boyfriend are boating by themselves. It will stay with you for quite some time.
Maybe if this was Spielberg's film he would have done something different. But the one thing he couldn't do is to make it more of a frightening experience than it is. So that is a compliment to Szwarc, I just wonder what happened to him. Because he has a vision and a style that is very reminiscent to Spielberg's original. If you haven't seen this by now, treat yourself to the first one and then watch this one right after. Especially to all the young people that are on the IMDb, Jaws is a classic piece of film making and I have said that it is the best film ever made, and it is. But if you want to be scared, Jaws 2 will fulfill that need just as well as the first and better than any film that has come out in the 90's.
And finally, has there ever been a better tagline in the history of motion pictures? Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...... Brilliant.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When Jaws was released in 1975, I don't think audiences knew what hit
them. People were scared to death to go into the waters and Jaws became
the very first summer blockbuster. As set by example by later
Hollywood, it made money, WE NEED A SEQUEL. Well, Jaws 2 was an actual
book, but why not capitalize on it's success? Jaws 2 actually is a
decent movie, I don't know why this film is so picked on. I think
because it does have a bit of a slow start, but the ending is
fantastic. This was one of the first times we saw good looking
teenagers terrorized. Arguably yes, it's silly to think the shark would
come back for a second bite, but why not just let go and have a good
time with this one? I went back for seconds and still like this movie.
Once again, Mayor Vaughn doesn't share Brody's belief that the town has another shark problem and warns him not to do something hasty. The following day, while Brody is in an observation tower, he sees a large shadow produced by a school of bluefish, which he mistakes for a shark. In his haste, Brody orders everyone out of the water and fires his gun, causing a panic. The town council fire Brody for the beach incident, with Mayor Vaughn being the only one to vote against dismissal. The next morning, Mike sneaks out and goes sailing with his friends, but has to take his young brother Sean along to stop him telling his parents about Mike's trip. But as they sail on the waters, the shark decides it's time for some afternoon lunch and terrorizes the teens. Martin realizes with his sons missing, they may be in trouble and goes to save them and their friends.
Does the movie have it's flaws; yes. The acting is alright and the plot is a bit silly. The beginning is a bit slow and the story isn't as interesting as the first film with intelligent adults as clearly this was made more for the scare and bringing back old characters for the fans. Not to mention that the boat scene was a bit sloppy where the dumb woman is grabbing a bottle of gasoline to light the shark on fire I'm assuming but looses her balance and dumps it on herself and proceeds to shoot a flare gun! Yeah, she had it coming. There is a really bad mistake caught on film when the shark reaches in to bite Michael, Jaws scraps it's mouth on the boat and the mouth bends as if it was plastic, lol. But one of the things I like about the film is that it still does give a good scare with the teenagers. Especially when Marge has to save Shawn out of the water and she can't get back up on the boat and keeps slipping, as you see Jaws going after her and it just breaks your heart when Shawn witnesses her death. Also I have a guilty pleasure for the actor Keith Gordon(Christine, All that Jazz, and Back to School), this was one of his first films and he does a very good job. The cast seemed to really click and did a good job working together. Plus you have to love how "marine" Martin Brody gets when he faces down Jaws for his last time and goes for that money shot. Jaws 2 is definitely flawed, but honestly a fun film that too many people judge harshly. I think it's just a fun popcorn flick that you need to let go and just have a good time when sequels had good intentions.
No, this wasn't as good as the original, but it wasn't bad, either. In
fairness, the audiences knew what to expect in this one and had already
been shocked by the killer Great White Shark. Thus, it was no way
audiences were going to react to the sequel as they did the first Jaws
It didn't have Steven Spielberg directing, but it did have the same locale with same principal characters on "Amity:" mainly Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), his wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary) and Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) so one didn't feel as if this was a completely new film. There was continuity to it, and we have the same problem (a big shark eating people). The main difference is that it is just a few years after the first horrifying incidents.
This story mainly involves Chief Brody's teenage kids and their friends. Overall, the film moves a little slowly the first hour, but picks up dramatically in the second half. In fact, it turns out quite intense, just like the first film. The main mistake the filmmakers made - which they wouldn't do today, was that it was too slow for too long. That, and the fact that the area residents apparently had a short memory; unrealistically short.
Anyway, the shark looks more realistic.....and if you can hang in there, you'll be rewarded with some good escapist entertainment in the second hour.
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
"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 coincidence? 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!
So now I come back to my original question. What should my header be for this review? And then I got it:
"This time it's kind of personal!"
2.5/5 stars -
It only figured that multiple sequels would be spawned from (at the
time) the most financially successful film in history. Jaws 2 was not
the least bit necessary in terms of story and character development.
It's merely an opportunity to put the lives of numerous young
characters in jeopardy before our hero from part one (Scheider) can
paddle to their rescue. The film is technically well-done, and the
action somewhat compelling. This film also made a fortune, but it had
nowhere near the commercial or critical success of the original.
First of all, the acting talent of Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss is sorely missed. They tried to write the Matt Hooper character back in, but Dreyfuss was in the midst of shooting Close Encounters with Spielberg, rendering his physical participation out of the question. Roy Scheider is back, though. And once again he proves that he is in fact a hell of a good actor. He's the kind of guy whose character you always end up rooting for. This time we see a darker side of his Chief Brody. Convinced there is a new shark in the waters off Amitty, he presses the point so vigorously that he is fired from his job. Keep in mind, the same mayor (Hamilton) is still in office, and he's not the kind of guy who wants his beaches closed for any reason.
Despite losing his job, Brody is once again forced to dispose of the killer great white before it devours his teenage son's friends and their sail boats. The film has some good stunt work, and some memorable shots of the killer fish. There is decidedly less blood shown in this one. The original barely escaped and R-rating, and they were obviously not going to chance that again. There are still plenty of frightening scenes, though. French director Jeannot Szwarc is no Spielberg, but he does a decent enough job with the material. John Williams' music still rings true.
Speaking of the material, that's the film's weak spot. Sharks do not behave like killers in a slasher movie. They don't use strategy to hunt down their victims like the sharks in these movies. A great white shark is a powerful and dangerous predator, but humans are generally not on its menu. Jaws 2 is however, miles above the next two sequels in the series. Part 3 had only the 3D gimmick to fall back on. Part 4 is hardly worth mentioning unless you like to laugh at really, really bad films.
7 of 10 stars for Jaws 2.
Added Feb 14, 2008: RIP Roy Scheider!
Was there ever a doubt that "Jaws 2" wouldn't stand a chance of equaling the
original film? One could only hope that on its own level it was a decent
film. And that is exactly what we get. To try and view this film and compare
it to the original is an impossible task. The original "Jaws" is one of the
great films of all time. Viewers need to approach "Jaws 2" with the first
film completely out of mind.
The sequel picks up a few years after the first film. The setting is the same (Amity Island) and Roy Scheider is back as Chief Brody. Also returning are Murray Hamilton as the Mayor, Lorraine Gary as Mrs. Brody, and Jeffery Kramer as deputy Hendricks. Gary and Kramer have bigger parts this time around while Hamilton still mills about not doing much of anything as he did in the original.
The story this time centers around the teenagers of Amity Island headed by the older Brody sons (who are amazingly quite older then just the few years passed), particularly older brother Mike and his friends. They all like parasailing and you know what that means right? Early on Brody starts getting indications of another shark problem and takes his concerns to the town board and mayor. One of the biggest flaws in the film is their attitude, which is the same as the mayor's in the first film. Wouldn't you think they might have a little concern considering what had happened a few years earlier? The movie moves at a snail's pace for the first hour but things pick up in the second half once the teenagers take the sailboats out and realize the trouble that awaits them.
On the positive side the shark looks as good, if not better, then in the first film. It is completely convincing. Scheider gives his usual solid performance despite playing second fiddle to a mechanical fish. And the second half of the film is quite suspenseful at times. There is one shot that has to be seen to be believed. An unconscience Mike Brody is in the water with the shark fast approaching. His friends are trying to lift him into the boat. The shark comes out of the water and.... well I won't tell you what happens but I think it is the best shark shot in the entire series of "Jaws" films.
On the negative side the characters of the teenagers are pretty one dimensional and we don't get to know many of them well enough to care if they end up as shark dinner or not. One of the teens played by Donna Wilkes spends the last half hour doing nothing but screaming. The screams are so annoying either you almost wish she would fall in the water and be done with it. A scene with a helicopter in the water is as ridiculous as things can get. The ending (not revealed here) is a touch silly but if you think about it the ending to the original was no more silly.
In the end "Jaws 2" is a decent but not great followup. For those that truly dislike the film I invite them to watch "Jaws 3" or "Jaws: The Revenge". Those films make part 2 look like the classic the first one is.
While Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" a dark, scary, and gripping thriller, "Jaws 2" is a scary movie for kids who don't really want to be scared. The imagination and unique style that Spielberg put into the original is sorely lacking here; this is merely a teenagers-in-jeopardy thriller as hordes of sailboating teens are terrorized by the giant killer shark. Spielberg did not expose us to the actual shark until much later in the film, which added to the heightened tension. We see the shark up close right away in this film, and it's no sense of terror. The shark chomps on water skiers, attacks boats, drags a helicopter out of the air and into the ocean, snacks on scuba divers, and the day is once again saved by Chief Brody (Roy Scheider.) With all this chomping and chewing going on, "Jaws 2" is oddly ineffective and unscary. While alot of kids were genuinely frightened and scared by the original "Jaws," this sequel is more like a carnival ride that provides a few thrills but is forgotten after it is over. The music by John Williams is absolutely fabulous and the atmosphere is sunnier this time around, but "Jaws 2" fails to satisfy. It's just alot of kids screaming and falling in the water. While the original is a horror masterpiece, this is an O.K. film for squeamish little children.
A lot of people come under the misconception that only Jaws is good
while all the sequels are bad but that's not entirely true. Of course
Jaws 3D and Jaws the Revenge are the ones you should definitely avoid
at all costs but Jaws 2 is the one that gets under-looked and unfairly
rated because of the bad rep the later sequels did. I assure you all,
Jaws 2 is nothing like those said bad sequels films, in fact this film
is actually as enjoyable as it's preceding film.
Like a proper sequel should do it directly continues from where the first film left off with most of the same characters returning including main protagonist Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), he is just an excellent main character, it wouldn't be a Jaws film without him who has the unfortunate task of dealing with another man eating shark that is terrorising the sea of this island resort town of Amity. Although the film starts off slow but as more of the film gets going the better it becomes. I loved the moments when the shark kills the victims like a horror villain should.
Now of course Jaws 2 may not match up to the original film but at least the people who made this film actually tried to make a good film with a decent story. I enjoyed it and I highly recommend it, it's one of the many underrated sequels that should be given a chance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is about as bad as a "teen scream" can get. A shark that can swim faster than a speed boat to catch water skiers. A shark that can eat a helicopter. Dumb teens who do little more than whine and scream. They took the premise of a mature thriller like Jaws and turned it into a mindless excuse for teens to act "cool" and then really, REALLY stupid. The latter 3/5 of the movie Roy Scheider is left twiddling his thumbs lost in the ocean just to give time for a bunch of teens who can't act their way out of a paper bag. Then Roy Scheider pops back in at the end for the most implausible way to kill a shark ever put a film that wasn't direct to video--which is what should have happened to this film. One word -- BAD!
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