Jaws 2 (1978) Directed by Jeannot Szwarc. With Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton.
Released 3-years after Steven Spielberg’s seminal shark thriller, this sequel, directed by Jeannot Szwarc, retains the suspenseful, B-movie feel of the first film, minus the nuanced character interplay. Jaws was the original blockbuster, the film that paved the way for so many others to thrive…a green-light for studios, signalling a treasure trove of celluloid gold to be mined from picture houses across America and beyond.
A sequel was inevitable, in-fact, Jaws was to spawn three sequels, each significantly inferior in quality and box office than its predecessor. Perhaps, it is for this reason that Jaws 2 has been idly buried under a mountain of cynicism, long forgotten and dismissed as a bland rehash of a treasured masterpiece.
What Jaws 2 actually is, is an underrated sequel that embraces B-movie staples, but with a degree of class to spare. Once again, the drama is set on the cosy-looking Amity Island. Roy Scheider reprises his role as Chief Brody, turning increasingly agitated with the local mayor’s reluctance to accept that Amity has another shark problem.
Indeed, many of the creative forces that made the original film such a treat return. Producers, Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown, legendary composer John Williams, with more new music to add to his famous score – Carl Cottlieb too, with a co-written script and actors Lorraine Gary and Murray Hamilton, to mention but a few.
Although it misses the magical Spielberg touch, the talent involved ensure thrills and spills alike. Perhaps a reason for the lack of appreciation is that we see a lot more of the shark this time, yet, never at the expense of detracting from time spent with characters, which is why the original Jaws continues to be so well loved.
I’m at a loss why Jaws 2 isn’t more fondly remembered. It scored massive success upon release both at the cinema and on video, and always drew huge television ratings whenever it was screened. The mechanics of bringing the shark to life, on tricky looking locations is impressive, and the ensuing action is well handled by Szwarc, who strikes an even balance between drama and thrills. 3.5/5