Wednesday, October 2, 2013

JAWS 2 (1978)

Quick, think of a scenario for JAWS 2!  NOW STOP!  No matter what you came up with, it was better than the actual scenario for JAWS 2, which is basically that JAWS happens again in almost exactly the same way.  For the record, my JAWS 2 would involve the original exploding shark creating a giant cloud of chum and attracting a slew of sharks to Amity Island.  One gets Hooper on the swim back, but Brody manages to make it out and must assemble a shark-killing team to stop sharks from killing everyone.  Anyway, the reality is:

SYNOPSIS: Sheriff Brody is still the sheriff of Amity, which has returned to its dull doldrums after the excitement of the first JAWS.  Focus has shifted back to summer tourism and a new developer named Len Peterson has hired Ellen Brody to assist him in selling condos and such.  Amity is full of teens.  Soon, the great white who comes to town is also full of teens.  But no one believes crazy paranoid chief Brody that a shark might be cruising their waters because, after all, it's been a whole 3 years since that happened.  Circumstances occur and a bunch of teens stupidly sail out to a lighthouse and Brody must come to the rescue and battle another monster shark.

The continuity was enjoyable, sometimes.  JAWS 2 includes callbacks to the original JAWS, so fans can enjoy the aquatic return of the Orca or the phone call from Hooper on his Antarctic expedition.  Fan-intended references are just fine!  Recycling things, not so much, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Plenty of the original cast return, so the acting in many scenes is solid, even if the script doesn't really have the kick of the original.  Don't be foolish and expect anything on the level of Quint's Indianapolis speech from JAWS 2.  When one of the teens said, "She's got tits like a sparrow", I felt like Roy Schneider looks here.  But, yeah, Schneider, Murray Hamilton, Lorraine Gary, all of them bring this up a notch.

Even minor characters make a return!  Glad you didn't let that craziness with the last shark run you off the island, lady!

Some of the recycled elements work and are arguably improved.  There's a brutal callback to the first kill in JAWS that results in the movie's cringiest moment.  The shark here seems even more pissed and hyper-aggressive.  To its credit, JAWS 2 manages to gin up some suspenseful scenes, even though everyone knows the deal with the shark and such after the original film.

Lots of the callbacks.  JAWS 2 seems like it's attempting the EVIL DEAD 2 routine of turning a sequel into a semi-remake.  Shark comes to Amity, Brody tries to warn people, but nobody will listen because they need the beaches open because tourists are money.  None of the townspeople, INCLUDING THE MAYOR, will listen, even after they find another shark-attacked corpse on the beach!  This is not an upgrade from Susan Backlinie.  Lots of movies ripped off JAWS and JAWS 2 is just another one of them.

Too much shark.  The shark in JAWS didn't really look great when you saw it, but the movie wisely kept it hidden until you were too invested to care.  JAWS 2 forces you to examine the shark for flaws in great detail, almost like the shark has entered a modeling contest with mean judges with laser pointers.  

Seriously, is that a guy inside piloting the shark???

Even the fin gets overused, to the point that it loses a lot of its currency.  Great whites in JAWS 2 are constantly just under the surface, forsaking large fish and other deep-water prey, so that they can chase water-skiers for miles.

Realistic teen characters are all over this.  Meaning we get to enjoy teen banter and whining and oily skin and blemishes.  I'm sure the actors are great people in non-movie life, but the script doesn't do enough to get us to care about their characters AND devotes way too much time to them hanging out on beaches and in the Peach Pit.

Ordinarily, I like outlandish BS in my horror movies, but the shark helicopter attack, I just can't even.

Maybe this would have been better if they'd pushed the envelope and made it more outrageous (more helicopter attacks?).  As it stands, it feels too safe and staid, from the storyline to the much less adventurous camerawork.  As a movie, it's adequate, but a big letdown as a follow-up to JAWS.


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