Jaws 2 (1978)

*. After Jaws rewrote the rules and the record books for box office a sequel was assured. Producer David Brown admits it’s a cliché, but called it “obligatory.” His co-producer Richard Zanuck, however, says that sequels weren’t yet a thing in Hollywood, with the only example he could think of being the Planet of the Apes movies. So maybe, as they had with Jaws, they were still blazing a trail for everyone else to follow.
*. However obligatory, inevitable, or groundbreaking a sequel was, the fact is it was ordered up as soon as Universal knew they had a hit property. Filming began two years after the release of Jaws, in Florida this time (though the setting is still Amity; in Jaws 3 they would relocate). The initial director didn’t work out and Jeannot Szwarc came in on short notice as a replacement. Roy Scheider was brought back almost literally kicking and screaming, joined by Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, and Jeffrey Kramer (he’s Brody’s deputy). “Bruce” had rotted away in storage so a few new shark models were made that apparently didn’t work much better than the original.
*. I said in my notes on Jaws that evidence of its greatness was how many times I’d seen it. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t gone back to watch Jaws 2 again since I first saw it on TV many years ago. But I can’t be entirely sure because only a week after seeing it and going back to type up my thoughts on it I found I had to refer to my notes to jog my memory as to what it had been about. It’s that forgettable.
*. Probably the best known thing about it is the ad campaign. The poster art (and cover of the paperback novel adaptation, which I actually read as a kid before I first saw the movie) is almost as good as the iconic original, with the same giant shark’s head this time looming behind a waterskier. And of course they knocked it out of the park with the tag line “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.” That’s still with us, even if most people today probably don’t know where it comes from.
*. The plot is mainly a rehash of the first film. A new shark has arrived off the shores of Amity. The mayor and his council of local business boosters is still in denial, even as the bodies pile up (or wash ashore). Instead of doing away with the shark by way of an exploding oxygen tank Brody gets it to chomp on an electrical cable.
*. There were some interesting ideas. The waterskiing scene is actually pretty neat, and not badly done. The shark taking out the helicopter was too much, but has a wacky charm to it (it was still pretty silly twenty years later in Deep Blue Sea). And is that Napoleon Dynamite playing Timmy? Surely he was the model for that later character’s appearance anyway.
*. Not terribly suspenseful or scary. Szwarc figured that since the audience had already seen the shark in the first film there was no point keeping it hidden underwater here. Which makes it more of a monster movie. Given how much trouble they were still having with the shark, going a different route might have been easier.
*. Well, they did try. But Scheider was all that was left of the original trio who really made the first movie work, and he wasn’t getting along with Szwarc at all. The script was a mess and was constantly being reworked. The storyboards must have seemed promising, but given the limitations of what they had to work with at the time the big scenes didn’t translate on screen. So I’d just call it forgettable, and well forgotten. Far superior though to what was to come.

46 thoughts on “Jaws 2 (1978)

      1. Alex Good Post author

        I didn’t figure you’d pick up on my homage to Arshile Gorky. High culture is lost to you. Like cinema pre-1970. Like grammar and spelling.

      2. tensecondsfromnow

        Film with Jon Voight and Barbara Streisand. You won’t catch me out. So, Mr high culture, Jaws 3 and 4 on the slate this week? I’ll check whether Cahiers du Cinema want a tie in…

      3. Alex Good Post author

        *sigh* Here I am talking about the Reformation, the Odyssey, Gorky, and Duchamp and you want Jaws 3-D and Jaws: The Revenge. Well, I guess I can squeeze some lowbrow stuff in.

      4. tensecondsfromnow

        Sigh. So that is your idea of high culture? Sharknado? You’re Otis to my Lex Luthor. An imbecile in my way. By the way, did you enjoy F9 or Black Widow? No, cause you’re banned from public places. Haha!

      1. Alex Good Post author

        Just sitting here rewatching Trainspotting. How does it feel seeing Kelly Macdonald going from working in a Glasgow bar in the ’90s to all that she’s gone on to accomplish, while you . . . well, I guess the bars are still there.

      2. tensecondsfromnow

        The Volcano nightclub used for the film, has long been demolished and turned into flats. Met Kelly in The Social two years ago, she didn’t seemed overawed to meet an Academy Award winner like myself. We heavy hitters tend to stick together.

        You ever win anything? Parking fines? Public ruination citations?

      3. Alex Good Post author

        I only saw a bit of the TMZ video. Just you being rushed to the door and screaming out “But Kelly, remember when we were mates?”

      4. tensecondsfromnow

        Johnny Lee Miller the only one I don’t know. And it’s only pondlife like you that get flung out the door.

        So you really haven’t won an Academy award ? Or are you busy copying and pasting the IMDb trivia section on Jaws 3?

      5. Alex Good Post author

        You must have some wonderful parties. In your head.
        Correct title is Jaws 3-D. Drop by tomorrow and you might learn even more.

      6. tensecondsfromnow

        Ewan’s mum bought my gran’s house in Crieff decades ago. Have interviewed Bobby Carlyle three times. Met Kelly after Hail Caesar! Peter and I have sunk many pints. Apple hosted my discussion with Irvine Welsh. Last interview with Danny was in Edinburgh for Yesterday.

        Who exactly are you again?

      7. Alex Good Post author

        Wow. So Ewan is practically family. Sounds like you’re almost Scottish royalty. Does that even get you a free drink these days?

      8. tensecondsfromnow

        I am Scottish royalty, and don’t you forget it. Edward Stuart as in Charles, Bonnie Prince Charlie himself. Having the common touch is why I suffer knobular bobulars like you.

        Haven’t you got stuff to do? That Jaws The Revenge Wikipedia entry isn’t going to cut and paste itself…

      9. tensecondsfromnow

        This will be your first original piece, and as someone who has been following your derivative hack work for what seems like decades, it will be refreshing to read words that you haven’t just found somewhere else.

    1. Alex Good

      He was made an offer too good to refuse (lots of money and the studio let him out of a contract). Even so, he apparently tried to feign insanity, going crazy in a hotel room, to get out of doing it. That’s what I meant by “kicking and screaming.”

      Reply
      1. Bookstooge

        There are a LOT of movies I haven’t seen. Didn’t grow up in a movie watching household, Mrs B only likes a select few movies now and if I have the time, I’d rather read a book 😀

      2. Bookstooge

        Dont get me wrong, I watch lots of “stuff”. It is just relegated as background noise while I’m online.
        The last time I sat down and paid attention to a movie was Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Before that it was the Infinity War duology from the MCU when they both hit bluray.

        Even one of my favorite movies, Megamind, which I’ve watched into the double digits, I tend to just background it and look up every now and then.

        All of that is just to say that I don’t view movies the same as you, or Dix or even Otsy. So my statements are going to be a little bit different 😀

      3. Bookstooge

        I am a HUGE Superman fan, so it is a given that I like the Zack Snyder superman trilogy. Not sure how well it worked for non-fans though.

        As for Megamind, once again, being a Superman fan really helped me enjoy it to the fullest. Even it being a cartoon doesn’t hurt it in my opinion.

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