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Jaws 2 (1978)

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Score: 4/10

Genre: Horror and Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 56 min.

Release Date: June 16th, 1978 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Jeannot Szwarc Actors: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Joseph Mascolo, Jeffrey Kramer, Collin Wilcox, Ann Dusenberry, Mark Gruner, Barry Coe, Susan French, Donna Wilkes

W

hile surveying the wreckage of the Orca ship, two divers are attacked by what appears to be a shark. Miles away, on dry land, at the Amity Scholarship Fund Benefit, and the opening of a new hotel, Police Chief Martin C. Brody (Roy Scheider) and his wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary) listen to a speech by Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton). As the Amity High School band plays in the background and visitors partake in refreshments, the Brodys sneak away to fool around. And along the shoreline, where boats are docked all in a row, the dorsal fin of a Great White shark pierces the surface of the rippling waters.

This time around, there’s a preoccupation with teenaged kids getting wrapped up in juvenile romances. Two nerds strike out with the ladies; the 17-year-old Miss Amity Island (Ann Dusenberry) steals everyone’s hearts (and libidos); a bevy of crass boys speak frankly about newcomer Jackie Peters (Donna Wilkes), who is set to go on a blind date with Martin’s son Mike (Mark Gruner); and the possibility of summer jobs stifles the carefree revelry of tanned beachgoers. While this makes for some sympathetic fodder for the voracious shark, it also causes many of the interactions to be markedly adolescent – or lowbrow. Even after a killer whale washes up on shore with a sizable chunk bitten out of it, the youths can only concern themselves with how it might affect their dating routines.

But the primary focus here is on fresh new shark attacks (and the mutilated corpses that shock unsuspecting investigators), which still dwell on the suspense of near-misses, a resurgence of the original music by John Williams, and shark-cams that mimic the viewpoint of the oversized predator. In a not-so-surprising yet curious twist, the actual mechanical shark (or the real fake shark) makes an appearance around 20 minutes in. And this time, it isn’t as plagued by malfunctions as before. The problem is that the supporting players aren’t as interesting and the seafaring adventures (including the shark moments themselves) not nearly as exciting (though a sequence with a helicopter is nicely done).

Once again, no one wants to take the situation seriously, except for Brody, who is so agitated by the possibility of a second man-eating terrorizer that he can barely concentrate on the people around him. Additionally, he’s not afraid to incite a panic or frighten potential real estate investors. “I have had some experience with sharks,” he insists to Dr. Elkins (Collin Wilcox), who is called in to examine the dead orca. “Sharks don’t take things personally, Mr. Brody,” she retorts. Unfortunately, with the repetition of dying sailors, the public disorder caused by Brody’s false alarm hysterics, and town hall politicians annoyed over Brody’s involvement, it’s just too much to believe that this same police chief would be such an unlucky person. It’s only natural for Universal Pictures to want to exploit the success of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece (this sequel arrived almost exactly three years later), but it was already a nearly impossible feat to come anywhere close to the brilliance of the original. By telling the same story again (and with a weighty two-hour running time), it merely reinforces the notion that Spielberg’s vision was comprehensive and complete.

– Mike Massie

 

 



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