I was surfing around the TV channels, the other night, and ITV 4 was halfway through Jaws 2. I was virtually asleep, but I saw the scene when the water skier is killed, and it immediately had me hooked. On Sunday, I dug the DVD out of my DVD Collection, and watched it in its entirety.
As I’ve said in previous post, Jaws is still my favorite film of all time, but the sequel would certainly make my top 50 of all-time greats. Fuck The Godfather Pt II, I’m going for Jaws 2.
I’m just surprised that it isn’t more celebrated, it deserves to be mentioned in great sequel lists. What is most surprising is that it’s not Spielberg directed, because it really feels like it is. It was actually directed by Jeannot Szwarc, who is far from celebrated. Szwarc’s other films include Supergirl (which I have a guilty fondness for, with Helen Slater being an early boyhood crush) and the cult sci-fi romance Somewhere In Time. So why is Jaws 2 so good?
I think the main reason is that it really captures the mood of the first film, its set in Amity again, and features Roy Scheider, once more as chief Brody, and Lorraine Gary returns as his wife. It also features Murray Hamilton as The Mayor, who seems to have had a memory bypass, or a lobotomy, and is just as obstinate as he was in the original. A lot of the original islanders cast also return, apart from the evil face-slap woman, who were non actors, and obviously enjoyed having a second bite of the cherry.
Obviously Robert Shaw could not appear as his character Quint was dead, (and sadly died in real life, in August 1978, a month after Jaws 2 opened) and Richard Dreyfuss, declined to appear as he was filming a little movie (hee hee) Close Encounters, with Spielberg. I think Jaws 2 could have been even more perfect if Dreyfuss character Hooper had been seen, when he is on the phone talking to Ellen Brody, or had a conversation with Martin. “What!..another shark..You have got to be kidding Martin…wish I could be there” said in Dreyfuss excited tone of voice would have been great.
The Island settings are instantly recognizable, and you get a palpable chill, as another shark decides to treat Amity Island as a floating restaurant. There’s a great scene when you just saw the fin going through the Amity boatyards at night/or dawn.. A shot Spielberg would have been proud of. Szwarc’s direction throughout is top notch.
In the film’s opening, diver photographers are exploring the wreck of the Orca boat, from the first film, and are attacked by an unseen monster. Of course, it’s another shark….
There’s a great scene later on in the film when Brody raises his fear that the shark is a vengeful family member, and he is told by a marine expert, that sharks don’t take things personally!
Later, sent up in the ludicrous Jaws IV: The Revenge’s advertising campaign, and lampooned brilliantly in Back To The Future II
This new menace has soon killed a water-skiing girl and the boat’s driver in a spectacular explosion when the woman driver fights the shark with a petrol can. Sheriff Brody is then convinced that his worst nightmare as come true, he has another shark to face down.
Due to a property tycoon’s interest in Amity, Chief Brody is not believed again by the Mayor, Larry Vaughan, and the odious tycoon who controls the council (In a subplot, Ellen Brody is his PA).
The late and much missed Roy Scheider is really great in this film, Brody has unsurprisingly developed an Ahab complex and is determined it won’t happen again…. He patrols the beach himself, and causes a panic when he opens fire at the sea during a false alarm. The council then has it’s excuse and fires the Chief from his job. Are they stark staring mad?
Murray Hamilton excellent again, with the same- look on his face that he knows he is in the wrong. What a complete B**tard!
The film’s main focus is the sailing mad teenagers of Amity (including the Brody’s son Mike), who will obviously become the Shark’s meal ticket. Friday The 13th and Halloween had been big horror hits, so it is not surprising that the film decides to target this demographic again with an increased focus on “Teens In Peril”. Although there are the usual stereotypes such as the bonking mad couple, they are a surprisingly likeable bunch.
Interested in having fun, and not just hedonism. There is a scene when they all have a water fight on their boats which has a nice realism to it. There’s crude language, and some angst but they are more likeable victims than those in most Slasher films.
Despite, his Father unfairly (or obviously wisely) forbidding him from anymore sailing with his mates, due to his shark fears, Michael Brody (an excellent Mark Gruner) sneaks out and is blackmailed by his younger brother Sean (An excellent Marc Gilpin) into taking him with him for a day sail- “I’ll tell Dad unless you take me”. Wonderfully acted. Remember, that Sean is his father’s pride and joy, as explored in the original film’s poignant dinner table scene.
The teenagers set sail for the ocean, in their colourful but flimsy boats, with the shark following them, and both Brody sons in extreme jeopardy. Who can save them? Surely not ex police chief Brody again!!
All of this is terrifically exciting, with The shark laying siege to the boats and getting a fair few victims. I actually think the second half of Jaws 2, is nearly as good as the original Jaws. There is palpable tension as the teenagers end up lashing all of their boats together as the shark circles, having already picked off several. When news of another shark attack reaches Brody, he learns that his son has set sail, and follows in an Orca-esque i.e crap Amity Police boat. The Look on Scheider’s face, a mixture of unease, anger and true grit. What an actor he was.
Jaws 2 is just terrific, it has the brilliant John Williams score again, set pieces galore, A shark taking down a coast guard helicopter!! explosions, boat crashes. Great FX, with the shark as good (or as bad as some morons say) as it was in Jaws. Gruesome dead bodies, and a beached killer whale with shark bite. Top make up FX with a real yuk factor.
It is also as well acted, Roy Scheider truly impressive as discussed, but all the teens put in good performances – Witness the scene when the teens try to get Sean Brody to safety when he becomes stranded during the attack. Memorable acting from all concerned.
There are also plenty of bikini clad girls to look at, and Donna Wilkes is memorable as the main screaming girl victim, who Mike Brody has his eye on. She doesn’t half shriek!
The other Jaws sequels are B Movies, not in the same league,nowhere near, but Jaws 2 is a rare beast, a sequel nearly as good as its masterpiece predecessor.
Jaws legacy maybe to have created lots of baby sharks, but this one was welcome – A suspense classic in its own right.