Thursday 13 April 2017

Movie Review: Jaws 2 (1978)

A sequel that was always going to be inevitable, Jaws 2 nevertheless lacks any reason to exist other than cashing in on the success of the original.

On Amity Island, Sheriff Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) is still emotionally scarred by his previous experience battling a great white shark. The community under Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) wants to move on, and Brody's wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary) has a job at the brand new Holiday Inn resort hotel. Brody's sense of unease is heightened when two scuba divers mysteriously disappear, and then an unexplained explosion destroys a small boat, killing two more people including a water skier.

Brody tries to convince the Mayor and the town council that another large shark may be feeding in the waters of Amity, but they ignore him. Brody's two boys also circumvent his pleas to stay out of the water, and they join other teenagers on a multi-boat sailing trip. The shark first attacks a group of student scuba divers and then turns its attention to the sailing boats, and Brody has to swing into action to try and save his kids and their friends.

With Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw steering clear, only Roy Scheider returned for the first sequel, and then only because he had contractual obligations to fulfill. First John D. Hancock and then Jeannot Szwarc were brought in to direct, but the production was beset by infighting, a lame script, and more troubles with mechanical sharks.

Jaws had toyed with the audience before revealing the enormity of the monster, and added an existential men-against-nature layer of depth. With no new ideas to offer, Jaws 2 resorts to lining up interchangeable teenaged victims as food offerings to a clunky shark. The film is devoid of any elements of tension or drama, and already resorts to some wild contrivances of the shark-versus-helicopter variety.

Back on shore Brody battles the Mayor and other men in suits who refuse to believe another large shark is on the loose. Scheider and Hamilton lose the fight against a witless script boxing them into the same emotions for close to two hours.

The final 30 minutes finally build up a head of steam. Not that anyone can care about a group of barely defined teens being targeted by the shark, but at least the film defines a mission, Brody sets out to sea in another boat that may not be big enough, and Szwarc finds a gritty-enough final showdown. But thrash as it might, Jaws 2 is best remembered for the Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water... tagline, a near perfect example of a poster being much better than the film it promotes.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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