Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
Release Date: July 17th, 1987 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Joseph Sargent Actors: Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, Karen Young, Michael Caine, Judith Barsi, Mitchell Anderson, Lynn Whitfield, Melvin Van Peebles, Edna Billotto
he use of the original theme music (in all its glory, not just the primary notes) during the opening credits is a welcome return to form (here, it’s composed by Michael Small, save for the pieces taken from John Williams). But the continued use of the Brody family as protagonists is virtually unbearable, even when actress Lorraine Gary makes a reappearance. Strangely, both Michael and Sean are also in this third and final sequel, though they’re played by different actors, which makes the use of their names largely pointless. It’s almost as if producer/director Joseph Sargent was hoping that audiences would forget about the existence of “Jaws 3-D.”
Sean Brody (Mitchell Anderson) is now an officer for the Amity Police Department (his father’s picture hangs prominently on the wall at the station), which puts him, once again, directly in the path of an ever-hungry Great White Shark. When it rips off his arm, takes a bite out of his boat, and then finishes off the boy, Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) is traumatized and distraught. How could this family possibly be so unlucky? “It waited all this time and it came for him…” she insists to her other son, Michael (Lance Guest), who comes to visit after his brother’s tragic demise. But sharks aren’t calculating murderers – they don’t pick out their targets based on revenge. Or do they?
No, they don’t. But in the world of “Jaws: The Revenge,” things don’t always make sense. Indeed, the previous film didn’t do much for the sake of realism and shark facts. On the way to the warm waters of the Bahamas for some much-needed recreation, Ellen, Michael, his wife Carla (Karen Young), their daughter Thea (Judith Barsi), and their trusty pilot pal Hoagie (Michael Caine) get caught up in further shark misadventures, along with Michael’s scientist coworker Jake (Mario Van Peebles). Although this film plays out much more like a typical horror movie – with nightmarish visions of lunging sharks, musical cues to warn of stalking antagonists, and sudden movements or noises to signify paranoia – the actual thrills feel less intense. This is, in part, because the character interactions are so tepid and strained, with prattling small talk between Michael and Jake, and a harmless romance between Ellen and Hoagie – both of which are annoying at best.
“I’ve always wanted to make love to an angry welder.” Amidst all the mild comic relief, the snail-tagging and collecting, and the speeches about misusing grant money or writing reports to earn doctorates, many minutes are wasted to merely pad the time between shark attacks. Yet when those attacks do arrive, the monster is shown with such clarity and in full-body view that, despite this being the most modern of the series, the shark has never looked so fake. Plus, everyone has the most reckless of plans – from spontaneously sacrificing oneself to the beast, to conducting a water landing with a plane for absolutely no reason, to going back into the water as an act of defiance. At least, the onslaughts are a bit bloodier than before, and this 1987 production doesn’t resort to unsophisticated computer graphics; the shark is an amusingly tangible model/puppet.
– Mike Massie