Steven Spielberg in often credited for invention of modern Hollywood summer blockbuster with *Jaws. However, it took some time for the concept to be perfected and take its final form as a sequel or remake of summer blockbuster. It happened in 1978 with Jaws 2, horror adventure film directed by Jeannot Szwarc.
The plot is set on the New England resort island of Amity few years after the events depicted in the first film. Martin Brody (played by Roy Scheider) still serves as the chief of local police, only this time his dedication to protect the public from man-eating sharks is strengthened by the personal experience. So, when scuba divers and water skiing enthusiasts go missing and hideously mauled carcass of a large orca ends up on a beach, he becomes convinced that another great white shark has chosen waters around of Amity as its favourite feeding ground. Unfortunately for Brody, Larry Vaughn (played by Murray Hamilton) is still a mayor and, just as few years ago, meets Brody’s concerns with scepticism and wants beaches to remain open in order to provide community with desperately needed tourism revenues. Brody’s warnings are ignored even by his sons Mike (played by Mark Gruner) and Sean (played by Marc Gilpin) who join group friends on a sailing trip, unaware that their tiny boats will be stalked by huge man-eating fish.
Jaws 2 was box-office success, which is often explained with audience expecting the same levels of entertainment as the first film, as well Universal Studios effective publicity campaign best embodied in famous slogan “Just as you thought it was safe to go back in the water”. Inevitable comparison with previous film, however, point to Jaws 2 being vastly and disappointingly inferior to Spielberg’s masterpiece. Many elements that made previous film work are missing here. Spielberg refused to direct, Richard Dreyfuss refused to star (with iconic character of Hooper being only mentioned once) and even Scheider didn’t want to star and had to appear in the film only due to contractual obligations. Although his displeasure and frustration manifested on the set and escalated into physical altercations with director Szwarc, he actually did a very good job. Character of Brody is the only that has some sort of depth in the film and Scheider displays his fears and psychological traumas well. Director Szwarc, on the other hand, does take some advantage of the increased budget and creates few interesting scenes, especially in the beginning, which includes shark’s attack on a waterskier.
Unfortunately, all this doesn’t mean that much because uninspired script by Carl Gottlieb is nothing more than rehash of the one used in the first film. While there were interesting characters in the first film, here they are reduced to cardboard figures and irritating teenagers who serve some cannon fodder function as in 1980s slasher films. Furthermore, with monster shark being revealed early in the film, there is little mystery and suspense that was so effectively used in the first film. Although satisfying in strictly technical sense, Jaws 2 can’t rise over its repetitive and derivative nature. This film is even more disappointing when we consider that it provided template that will be used in other countless Hollywood films that were commercially successful only to be justifiably forgotten.
RATING: 4/10 (++)
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