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Jaws 2

By Tom Keogh

Ushering in the age of the inferior sequel, Jaws 2 was essentially a license to print money. Indeed, the film did very well despite blatantly replicating the plot of Steven Spielberg's original, though to lesser effect. Roy Scheider returns as Martin Brody, sheriff of the small island town of Amity. Just as the beachside resort is rebounding from the previous movie's shark attacks, another great white is snacking on divers and water-skiers. Naturally, the town fathers don't want to confront reality and choose to proceed with a lucrative sailing regatta, resulting in a grisly loss of life. Besides the fact that director Jeannot Szwarc takes an impersonal, workaday approach to the film, Jaws 2 manages to be both stylistically flat and openly cynical about its commercial intentions. Of chief interest here is Scheider's performance, which wisely reflects the emotional fallout from Brody's last trauma in his obsessive behavior here.

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"I grew up too young to see the original JAWS in the theatres, so when my dad took me to see JAWS 2, it gave me shocks that haven't left me to this day (the mark of a good movie). However, while the memories of seeing the "new" Great White terrorize Amity Island and Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) have remained, repeated watchings of this sequel have not stood up well.

For starters, we all know what's going to happen: a giant shark will attack unsuspecting swimmers and boaters in the waters of a peaceful little Hamlet. There's no question of it, so JAWS 2 becomes almost like a spectator sport, seeing how many people will be chewed up. In the original, while Brody, Quint (Robert Shaw) and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) appeared to be hunting the shark while in actuality, IT was hunting THEM, the sequel has the shark simply hunting. Brody's role has become relegated to life-saver (although his increasing paranoia and ineffective head-butting with town bureaucrats certainly increases the tension). The problem is, the tension can't be maintained, simply because everyone in the audience knows the shark is right there: we hear that haunting John Williams score and we KNOW the Great White is close at hand, so we watch to see which unwitting human winds up a dinner guest. In the original, no-one saw the shark for over half the film, increasing the tension; JAWS 2 shows it after approximately 15-20 minutes. Additionally, director Jeannot Szwarc has a number of aerial shots for a broader picture (as opposed to Steven Spielberg's water-level camerawork for the original) which serve to keep the viewer subconsciously away from the action, like an observer rather than a participant (or possible victim).

All this isn't meant to slam JAWS 2 as bad; on the contrary, it has a number of very good points to it that make it a solid thriller. The scene where Marge gets eaten after saving little Sean Brody is terrifying, simply because she never saw it coming and because you can hear the crunching of her bones, while Donna Wilkes' character is wonderful as the almost-always hysterical teenager. These moments make up for the silliness of watching the shark eat a helicopter, or Chief Brody learning to pilot a boat by himself after already admitting he doesn't have a clue how to.

JAWS 2 is solid, yet when placed against the near-perfect original, comparisons will leave it ultimately lacking."

--Rocker for Life

"I know a lot of people find sequels to be a drag, but Jaws 2 is one exception that I found rather enjoying. Based once again on the Long Island resort of Amity, which finds itself with the dilemma of another great white shark nearby. First signs of it's presence show up when a dead Killer Whale washes onto the beach with a huge bite out of it. Roy Scheider once again plays Chief Brody who attempts to warn the City Council about the shark, and then actually gets fired. The shark attacks again when Brody's sons are out sailing with friends. Returning to the cast are Murray Hamilton as (Mayor Larry Vaughn) and Lorraine Gary playing (Ellen Brody). (Jeannot Szwarc) directed the film, replacing Spielberg, but the sceenplay is done again by (Carl Gottlieb), produced by (Richard Zanuck) and (David Brown) who atributed to the first film. Composer (John Williams) creates the music atmosphere much like he did in (Jaws). I believe this film to be a worthy sequel to the original, I do recommend it for fans of the (Jaws) series, though it might lack the power of the first, it's very much watchable. One of the memorable scenes is the finale, where the shark bites on a power cable and is electricuted."

--Josh Mitchell

"Hello, was suprised to see so many sites about jaws 2. My father and I were both in the movie briefly and he worked behind the scenes also. He is seen on jet ski during beach scene and I am boy putting mustard on hot dog in same scene. Will look back later and see if any more people have visited the site."

--Chris

"This movie was the first remake of the original JAWS. After the first movie, the thought was to make the shark bigger and develop more charachters. Although this movie did not get as big a play as the first one, it did serve the purpose of delivering a bigger shark, more gore, and a healthy surplus of active teenages eager to go back in the water. The ending was a bit corny with frightened teens rolling all over catamarans in fear of The Great White Shark, but this movie does deliver the chills and lurky frights of the original."

--jrzarmy

"Bruce the shark still sucks and Spielberg's unnecessarily good direction are missed, but this sequel distinguishes itself from other sequels the way the original distinguished itself from other monster movies. Jaws 2 delivers some tension early on and Roy Scheider helps us suspend our disbelief, at least until Bruce eats a helicopter. The last twenty minutes or so are strictly predictable, but after the impact of the first movie on our national subconscious the famous theme music and an underwater POV shot are more than enough to generate the thrills we came for.

With some of the original cast, decent production values, and a few really scary set pieces, this sequel is better than it needed to be just to cash in on the success of Jaws. So much better, in fact, that it took not one but two subsequently dismal sequels to kill the franchise.

Worth a rent, just remember to squint when the shark surfaces."

--Seam

 

FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Jeannot Szwarc

Stars: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton

Released: June 16, 1978

Availability: DVD VHS CD


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