Starring Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary
Scott’s Review #1,307
Reviewed October 13, 2022
Because of the enormous critical and commercial success of Jaws in 1975 a sequel was created. Important to keep in mind is that in the mid-1970s it was not yet common to produce sequels especially if the director, Steven Spielberg, had no interest in participating.
Jaws 2 (1978) was an enormous box-office success but the reviews were only mixed. I adore the film which mixes thrills with the horror genre and wisely sets up the kills like a slasher film.
The mostly teenagers are savagely attacked and killed by the Great White shark, one by one style, using a lurking and effective musical score.
The film’s tagline, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…” has become one of the most famous in film history and has been parodied and homaged several times. I’d like to assume it led to a healthy almost now mandatory helping of subsequent sequels of other successful films.
Unfortunately, Jaws 2 also spawned a couple more sequels of its own which were piss-poor and laughable but we won’t get into that here.
Fun fact-Jaws 2 was nearly as troubled as Jaws was. The first director for the film, John D. Hancock, was deemed incompetent and was replaced by Jeannot Szwarc. Star Roy Scheider, who only reprised his role to end a contractual issue with Universal, was also unhappy during production and had several heated exchanges with Szwarc.
Maybe that should have been a sign not to make any more Jaws films.
Years after the shark attacks that left Amity Island reeling, Sheriff Martin Brody (Scheider) finds new trouble lurking in the waters and must rise to the occasion.
To add conflict, Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) wants to end the beach town’s poor reputation. But the sudden disappearance of a pair of divers suggests that something is up. When Sheriff Brody voices his warnings about holding an exciting sailing competition, everyone thinks he is suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress.
That is until a shark fin is spotted in the water sending the town into panic mode.
There’s no logical plot reason to make Jaws 2 but somehow I’m okay with that. The film entertains with enough frights and jumps to satisfy and the formulaic approach works well.
Besides the enthralling final sequence when Brody must rescue his sons Mike and Sean (Mark Gruner and Marc Gilpin), the opening sequence involving scuba divers and a female water skier is quite enticing and the best part of the film.
The musical score by John Williams who fortunately returned to the fold is fabulous and enhances any peril the characters face. The slick and clever approach gives the audience a clue that danger lurks nearby but we don’t know when or where the shark will strike.
I mentioned slasher films earlier and this formula is used in Jaws 2. As the teens set sail for the competition it is good fun to wonder who will get killed and who will live to see another sunny beach day.
Despite Scheider not wanting to do the film, you’d never know it by his terrific acting. He doesn’t phone in his performance and provides macho swagger and muscle. He’s everyone’s favorite dad who only wants to save and protect.
Jaws 2 (1978) attempts to scare and entertain and it succeeds. There is little character development but it’s not the type of film that needs deep texture.
The reason to watch is to see folks who intend to enjoy the water get attacked and ripped to shreds.