Jaws 2 (1978)

Movie Title: Jaws 2

Year Released: 1978

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1h 56min

Genre: Adventure, Horror, Thriller

Director: Jeannot Szwarc

Writer: Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler (based upon characters created by Peter Benchley)

Starring: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Joseph Mascolo, Jeffrey Kramer, Collin Wilcox Paxton, Ann Dusenberry, Mark Gruner, Barry Coe, Gary Springer, Donna Wilkes, Gary Dubin, John Dukakis, G. Thomas Dunlop, David Elliott, Marc Gilpin, Keith Gordon, Cindy Grover, Ben Marley, Martha Swatek, Billy Van Zandt, Gigi Vorgan,

Review: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water... Amity Island finds itself terrorized by a second massive great white shark. Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) must once again battle the man-eating monster while desperately trying to deal with the trauma he experienced during his last shark encounter, and without the support of the community he's trying to protect. Can Brody keep his head above water and sink this shark before it's too late? Get ready to set sail and avoid this murderous shark and its Jaws 2.

Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster Jaws is motion picture masterpiece! As with most movies, if it's a hit the sequel, and subsequent sequels, are guaranteed to follow. And three years later we return to Amity Island and the Brody family for more surf, sand, and shocking shark attacks. Now, with Jaws 2 you cannot just redo the first film like most lazy franchises have a tendency to do. Here, director Jeannot Szwarc and screenwriters Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler keep the scary shark stuff that we would expect, and even presents the shark more prominently than the previous film, but what they cleverly add is interesting plot points, personality to the villain, and character development to expand this franchise, instead of just treading water.

Chief Brody has been deeply scarred by the events in Jaws and when a second shark seems to have bellied-up to the beach-front buffet he becomes obsessed and crazed by the thought, so much so that he begins to show the cracks of the trauma he endured a few summers prior. Usually sequels ignore the fact that the traumatic experience that was had was actually traumatic; not here! Scheider, who didn't want any part of this movie, does some great acting here and carries the story of a man trying to prove that he's not crazy while attempting to save his family, and his community, from the fiendish fish.

The other cool thing that the filmmakers came up with is that the shark has a distinct look that makes it more villainous and scary. At one point the sharks face is burned and turns it into more of a monster than it already is. And from that point the shark becomes more of a slasher villain than an aggressive animal on the hunt for swimmers, divers, sailors, even helicopters. And the movie does take on a slasher film feel once the shark begins to stalk and eliminate a group of teenagers, one-by-one, as they go on a sailing excursion.

However, the teen protagonists that face the shark on the open water aren't too interesting and are there more for the body count aspect. Scheider spends more time searching for them than dealing with the shark, but in the final act there's a rather shocking climax to this story. The editing helps to amp up the action and the scares, but the pacing is a little off as the story doesn't quite stay focused until the last act. One of the best parts is the return of Oscar-winning composer John Williams. He creates another wonderful score, which includes his classic theme for the shark. The score, much like in the first film, really propels the story, mood, and tension. It's definitely one of Williams' most underappreciated scores.

Jaws 2 is a great sequel, that knows it can't quite capture the magic of the original so it makes up for it by playing up the horror angle; Brody's psychological horror and the visceral horror of a monster shark attacking day-sailing teens. I love Jaws and I'm a big fan of Jaws 2! It's definitely worth a look and always a fun watch during the long, hot summer.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: 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. Andrew J. Kuehn, who developed the first film's trailer, is credited with coining the phrase. The blurb has frequently been spoofed and referenced in both social vernacular and in other movie promotions as well.


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