Director: Jeannot Szwarc (Somewhere in Time, Supergirl)
After the wild success of Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece Jaws, a slew of sequels was inevitable. But the real question about these sequels is whether they maintain the suspense and high stakes action of the original summer blockbuster. The film in question today is the original sequel, Jaws 2.
Jaws 2 starts off rather slowly, with the reintroduction to the main character, Chief Martin Brody (portrayed once again by Roy Scheider) This second film puts a much larger focus on his family life and his growing paranoia. After the events of the first film, Brody’s fear of sharks begins to weigh heavy on him, especially after a series of mysterious disappearances at sea. As Brody becomes more avid about his suspicion, the more foolishly he acts. Scheider delivers another strong, believable performance that leads the film quite well.
All the while, Brody’s disobedient, 17 year old son Michael repeatedly goes out sailing on the ocean without his father’s permission and continually refuses to attempt to get a job. Right off the bat, this establishes this character in a negative tone that later in the film, reduces the mercy and pity the average watcher would have on him which is a problem because the entire tone of the 3rd act depends on the viewer liking this character. Thankfully, his youngest son joins on the deep sea adventure as well and helps create a sense of mercy for the entourage of teenagers that ship out.
While attempting to understand the disappearances, Brody begins to lose his marbles a little, which results in him firing 6 shots blindly into the water on a public beach and he loses his job. Shortly after, when Brody finds out about the secret sailing trip the teenagers decided to take, he steals a police boat and gallantly takes to the sea.
As predicted, the entire mood of this film is set by two major factors. The incredibly chilling score composed by musical legend John Williams, and the scenes where the shark is actually attacking civilians. While the score seems to heavily tote on the first film, it does still give an air of danger that follows you throughout the film. The shark attacks are much more visual in this film (Showing the shark itself in it’s entirety many times) which I think takes away from the experience a little, but overall, it does feel like a choice to distance the film from it’s original.
That’s honestly the biggest problem in the film. It bares so much resemblance to the original movie but the stakes don’t seem to be as high. In the first movie, the entire island is in a fuss about their personal safety, where in the second film, the people who are in danger seem to belong to a select group of about 15 or 20.
Overall, Jaws 2 is certainly one of the best Shark movies I’ve ever seen, but it pails in comparison to the original, which is unfair to assess seeing as the original was a masterpiece. The pacing is a little off and the script tends to waver in it’s points but the shark attack scenes are visually gripping and they find an exciting new way to finish off the sucker. If you love shark movies, I’d recommend this movie but don’t expect it to be as good as the original
Overall Rating: 4 / 5