Friday, June 18, 2010

Jaws Week: In Defense of Jaws 2

You will commonly hear people say regarding the Jaws sequels, "They all suck!"  In my opinion, this isn't true.  Yes, Jaws 3-D and The Revenge do indeed leave much to be desired. But Jaws 2, while not the landmark film like the original, is a fine film that is unfairly maligned.

Of course, accepting Jaws 2 does require accepting the preposterous idea that a second massive Great White would attack the same northeast Atlantic town from the first film, and I suppose that's a large pill to swallow.  But that fact aside, there are many thrills and nuances to enjoy here.

Take, for example, the acting.  The acting is just as good here as in the first.  Richard Dreyfuss' Matt Hooper is missed here, and of course you couldn't bring back Quint, but Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, and Murray Hamilton give compelling performances just as they did in the first film.  Their characters are consistent with the ones introduced in Jaws, and this is as much a credit to the writing team as to the actors themselves.  Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler appear to give as much care with the sequel as they did the original.  You can feel Brody's anger and sense of betrayel in the middle of the film when the foolish town council dismisses him.  Scheider in particular really gives it his all here.

There is also a great deal of chills in Jaws 2.  The opening sequence, as two divers discover both the shipwrecked Orca and the new shark, is a great scene with which to start the film.  The waterski scene and scene with two teens sailing have as much suspense and horror as anything you'll see in the first Jaws.  It's true that some of the horror seems more intent on shock value compared to the first, but with any sequel, you sometimes have to up the ante to keep things interesting, certainly with a thriller/horror film.

The use of teenagers as victims in Jaws 2 is often criticized as a way to attract the then-growing slasher film teen audience, and while I'm sure that's true, they still function as viable victims, and none of the situations they're put into seem terribly forced or contrived to me.  The execution of these scenes is so good, any such stretches of credibility are forgiven.

I couldn't find any usable clips to demonstrate my points, so please put Jaws 2 in your Netflix queue, purchase from the retailer of your choice, or do as I recently did, check the film out from your local library.  If you do, please leave a comment and let me know if you agree or disagree.  Thanks!


Erick said...

I haven't seen Jaws 2 in a while, but I always liked it. Maybe it was because I had the Marvel Comics adaption and the Topps cards. It was really cool when I was a kid.

Phillyradiogeek said...

I wanted to ask someone about the Marvel special, I had no idea one existed until I researched for Jaws Week. I'd love to see a copy!

Geof said...

It's about time someone defended because I like JAWS 2. You're right when you say the teens in pt. 2 have more character development and personality than most teen victims in horror flicks.

I SO want to read that Marvel Super Special!

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Well, I think you definitely deserve kudos for resurrecting this movie from sequel oblivion. Actually made me want to see it again, which I didn't think was possible - cheers! Swarcz is a decent director after all and I still arte SOMEWHERE IN TIME as a real favourite - now there's a film that really deserves the de-luxe Blu-ray treatment!

Phillyradiogeek said...

Thanks Sergio! Todd Mason helped me out this week by posting this article on a day I couldn't get to the PC. Glasd to know I'm not the only one who enjoys this film.

I didn't know Swarc directed SOMEWHERE, a movie I've wanted to see for awhile.

For those of you clamoring to see the Marvel Comics Super Special adaptation of the film, look no further:

Yvette said...

I don't have the guts. I couldn't even watch most of the first JAWS, just bits and pieces.

I am a CHICKEN!! I had trouble even watching the trailer.

But I enjoyed reading your post anyway. Made me think....Maybe. But probably not. :)

Phillyradiogeek said...

Yvette: it's funny--as much as I love these movies, they deeply scarred me. To this day, I can't see a picture of a great white shark without jumping. It's a reflex action, I can't help it! That's how strongly these movies affected me.

Anonymous said...

Hi, So glad I stumbled upon this have a photo posted that is near and dear to my heart. My bff with the shark right out his helicopter window. In the local (Pensacola) opening of the movie, everyone in the audience was shouting, "Jerry, look the OTHER way!!!" What a hoot!
Thanks for the memories.

Phillyradiogeek said...

Anon: welcome! I'm so glad you found this blog and enjoyed seeing your friend Jerry is his rise to stardom :)

I'd love to hear more about Jerry's involvement with the film. Leave another comment or email me at


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