Scheider's Shocking Shark Sequal Sans Spielberg
"Jaws" was such a great and popular movie that whilst it may have sounded right to make a sequel it was in fact very wrong. And the biggest problem is that "Jaws 2" tries to give us more of the same to the point that the storyline is pretty much a repeat of what we saw the first time around with Amity Chief of Police Martin Brody once more fighting bureaucrats as well as a shark. But that is just one of the problems which plague "Jaws 2" and without Steven Spielberg at the helm it also lacks his grasp on delivering atmosphere so rather than being a tense action thriller "Jaws 2" ends up rather dull except for the final big action scene. Although out of the 4 "Jaws" movies "Jaws 2" is most definitely not the worst and whilst not a patch on the original still manages to entertain in a very average sort of way.
4 years on from the shark horror which destroyed tourism on Amity Island they are finally starting to rebuild on its tarnished image. But when a couple of divers go missing and a mother and daughter mysterious die whilst water skiing Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) fears that a new shark has come to the Amity waters looking for food. Once more struggling with the Mayor who thinks Martin is just being paranoid it seems like no one will listen till it becomes very clear that a new shark has arrived and Martin must once more face his fears and battle the shark in order to save lives especially those of a group of teenagers and his son who have gone sailing.
So the biggest problem facing "Jaws 2" is how do you come up with a fresh storyline, well obviously it seems you don't as whilst we have the situation that 4 years on Amity is trying to get itself together after the horror of the shark in reality it is just a repeat of the first movie. So that means that we have Brody fearful of there being another shark in the waters which those in charge of the town trying to play it down partly because they are desperate to rebuild Amity's reputation but also because they feel Brody is paranoid. And so for the first half we have Brody battling the mayor once again which culminates with him losing his job before it becomes evident that yes there is a shark and so we get a protracted ending where Brody has to save a group of children out on their boats and battle the shark. The annoyance of it all is that the script has the potential to explore how Brody's fear of another shark affects his loved ones but it chooses not to in favour of basically recycling the story from the first movie.
It also doesn't help matters that with a change in director "Jaws 2" lacks that great atmosphere which made it a memorably scary movie. That build up to each attack, the flashes of the shark and the ferocity of the attacks are all missing and instead we get one rather dull in your face attack after another, none of which draw you to the edge of your seat. It's not until the final attack that "Jaws 2" comes close to the excitement of the first movie and whilst hugely over the top as Brody gives battle at least it's a memorable scene.
And whilst Spielberg didn't return nor did Richard Dreyfuss leaving Roy Scheider to pretty much make "Jaws 2" work on his own. Yes there are other returning characters and actors such as Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody and Murray Hamilton as Mayor Larry Vaughn but it is up to Scheider as Brody to be the hero. In one way Scheider does a good job and it is because he gives Brody a sense of paranoia that "Jaws 2" doesn't end up terrible but he sorely needed someone else to help him out to make it more believable and less one sided. And as with elements of the story being under explored so is the character of property developer Len Peterson whose feelings towards Ellen Brody could have made for another nice angle and given Joseph Mascolo more to do than look a touch menacing.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Jaws 2" is not the worst of the 4 "Jaws" movies it is not a patch on the first one. It suffers not only from basically recycling the story but lacking the atmosphere and horror which Spielberg delivered so magnificently the first time around. It is still entertaining especially the over the top climatic battle but it is also a case of a wasted opportunity to have built a new angle on the original story.
Tags: Shark Movies