There really isn’t much to say about Jaws 2, from which I expected a little bit more, being the only other “Jaws” film said to be worth watching. I got the chance to finally catch it last night. (RunPee is on a bit of a Shark Movie Binge.)
The original Jaws gets an A+ for brilliance, originality, fabulous chemistry, deft writing…and serves as an early primer on how to construct a blockbuster around a solid narrative.
Jaws 2 is…not good. But it’s not complete trash, either. I’d give Jaws 2 a C+, which is a tad higher than average, but not by much. I can’t imagine how bad the sequel’s sequels are, and probably won’t bother with them. There’s so many better shark movies to watch, and I haven’t even tapped the campiness that is Sharknado yet.
I won’t belabor this. Jaws 2 had some good follow-up to Jaws, and also some glaring holes…and one big huge unforgivable sin. I’ll get to that in a moment.
What follows are spoilers for Jaws 2, even though you can probably guess how things go down.
The Good Stuff in Jaws 2
- The lookout tower. That’s some good continuity. It makes sense Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) would build such a structure and see it manned as a shark lookout. (I wish the stupid mayor would have framed it as a bonus for the visitors..increasing safety, etc, instead of the retread plot about tourism suffering.)
- Chief Brody had PTSD. They never actually say it, but it’s very clear and present. As it should be with his background. Brody started Jaws 1 with a fear of the water, and seems to have processed that, at least. But now Brody has to step up again, full of bad shark baggage, and even says to the mayor (and the mayor’s associated jerks) that HE CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN.
And he steps up anyway, still in need of a ‘bigger boat’.
That, my friends, is continuity.
- Having the kids’ boats raft up made logical sense. That’s what would happen in real life, and I was pleased to see boaters being sensible in a dangerous situation. (I used to be a boat guide, for like, ten years. So kudos there.)
- I liked Cable Junction, at least as a novel setting. I wanted to see a final showdown with everyone waiting for rescue on that lump of rock. I didn’t get that, but the idea using the “cable” worked for me, even though everyone in the water should have fried too.
- Brody is still bad-ass. I hope he moves off the island to a flyover state without sharks. He can worry about tornadoes or earthquakes, but will be safe from insane predator fish. Since I won’t bother watching Jaws 3 or 4 or 15, someone tell me what happens next.
The Stupid Stuff
- No characterization happens. I don’t remember anyone’s names except Brody’s and maybe his kiddos. One is Michael, right? Who was the wife? The Mayor? His lackies? It’s not like we cared — they were, as Drax The Destroyer once said, ‘paper people.’
- No direct reference at all to how Brody saved Amity Island a mere two years ago? He should be a local hero. Not dismissed as a lunatic seeing sharks on every beach, who then gets fired for doing his damn job.
- It would have been nice to see even a throwaway line about Richard Dryfuss’s character Matt Hooper, and how useful he’d be if he wasn’t off at Greenpeace (or something – I’m easy).
- Those teens were fungible: I didn’t care who lived or died. I liked the child and his brother (Brody’s kids) because they had actual plot development. But the rest were just…there. As bait.
This is bad script writing. See a movie like Aliens to learn how to make the audience care about everyone in very spare narrative. (For example: you know the relatively minor characters Frost, Vasquez, Bishop, Drake, Hicks, Hudson, Apone, Gorman, and Dietrich, right? Do you know even one of names of the
- The shark looked ridiculous in every scene, both under the water and above, like some floppy rubber…thing. For comparison, the only time Jaws looked silly in the original film was when he attacked the Orca. By Jaws 2 in 1978, the production studio clearly had no money left for decent effects. If they couldn’t afford to do this right, why bother? I’m guessing because they got Roy Scheider to reprise his role.
(Then they went on to make more Jaws movies with apparently less budget, and spawned an entire cash-cow movie sub-genre….so what do I know?)
The Really, Really Bad Thing in Jaws 2
Okay, W. T. F. ? This shark rams boats, chews metal gunnels, maws through wood beams, and drags a HELICOPTER underwater? Is this some evil nation’s drone shark with AI implants?
This isn’t how animals behave. Sharks don’t eat boats or ram ships to make the people fall overboard. They’re highly specialized predators, but don’t have sentience. Sharks are opportunists who will grab a leg or arm to see if they like it — but they aren’t planners, strategists, or remotely relentless about their prey. If it fights back, there’s plenty of other ‘fish in the sea.’
I allowed for Jaws in the original to attack the good ship Orca, mainly because the rest of the story was so good, and I was willing to accept that this particular Great White was…atypical.
In Jaws 2, this Great White was just bananas. It was like Die Hard: Shark Edition. Seriously, biting the helicopter pontoons was where I gave up. There’s no reason that would EVER happen: monsters and animals are not the same thing. If they wanted to go nuts like this, then the sharks should have been invading aliens from Rigel 4, or something.
At least in Deep Blue Sea there were….reasons for the deliberate, concerted pack attack. (Deep Blue Sea is worth watching, BTW, even if Jaws went off the rails rather quickly.)
For reference, this was posted at the bottom credits of 47 Meters Down 2: Uncaged: 10 people die from sharks each year. Ten million sharks die from humans each year. #MikeDrop
Conclusion: If you loved Jaws (and who doesn’t?), Jaws 2 is an average tier shark movie follow-up to Brody’s narrative.
Movie Grade: C+
Better Shark Movies, reviewed on RunPee (Except for 47MD Uncaged, which is just dreck…):
Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)