Quite how an impressively ordinary a movie Jaws 2 is quite a thing to behold.
Following up one of the greatest blockbusters of all time must have been comparable to inviting the We Wear Clogs fan club to line up and take turns booting you square in the scrotum – it’s going to be a thankless task, but SOMEONES gonna enjoy it – and yet here we are.
It’s not that Jaws 2 is badly made, heavens no, it’s a perfectly adequate movie with memorable bits and everything but basing your whole script around the basic concept of “oh shit, here’s ANOTHER giant shark eating our tourists” isn’t exactly a wellspring of creativity. Still, other sequels have been made with less, so off we go back to another holiday on Amity Island were if you hang around long enough, a very interested shark will make you his chum.
After a couple of divers get to the afterlife by way of a giant great white’s colon, Chief Brody’s sharky sense starts tingling but he’s dismayed to find out that the town’s people won’t believe him despite the EXACT SAME THING happening years before. On the edge, alone – Richard Dreyfuss couldn’t be fucked to return apparently – and with his job on the line, Brody desperately searches for proof, be it a chomped on killer whale or driftwood from a ruined boat, but the longer it takes the higher the huge undersea predator’s protein intake becomes. But worse is still yet on the horizon when Brody’s sons head out with their friends for a boating trip.
To give it it’s due, Jaws 2 is a solidly made movie, it’s just not a particularly inspired one. While there’s nothing here to match the haunting opening of the original, or any of it’s scenes for that matter, it can still pull a blinder out of it’s hat when it needs to. An almost iconic (it’s on the poster) shark vs. water skier chase quickens the pulse, as does the bafflingly awsome sight of the shark (now sporting the burn scars of a salt-water Harvey Dent) dragging a helicopter into the deep to feast upon one of the most upsetting beards in movie history. In fact the action stuff is nicely above average (bear in mind this was 1978) and smartly mirrors the original by have the last third take place way out to sea.
And this is where Jaws 2 starts to sink a little. The whole section of the kids on a boating trip is admirably lean and the threat of a monster shark on a teen binge busting through their flimsy rafts at any moment creates unbearable tension, it’s thwarted by the fact that every single morsel on that boat is annoying as fuck. An assorted rabble of whiners, screamers and the most prominent unibrow ever seen in movies that’s NOT used for comedic effect, you literally couldn’t give the faintest of shits if ANY of the bastards make it back to dry land undigested.
Thank Christ for Roy Schieder, almost single handedly holding this thing together (the aftermath where he mistakenly fires his gun at a shadow in the ocean on a crowded beach is a heart breaker) and John Williams turning in a subtlety different score that adds class to proceedings. And finally give thanks to the blonde who gives the single greatest line reading of “SH-SH-SH-SHAAAAAAAAARRRRRKKKKKK!!!!” you’ll ever hear and whomever thought up the frankly batshit way of vanquishing the voracious homicide fish in the finale. I tip my hat to you.
Better than it has any right to be, yet probably more boring than you remember Jaws 2 is still, by a country mile, the best Jaws sequel ever made and owns one of the best movie tag lines ever written.