Jaws 2 (1978)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Creature Film, Natural Horror  |   Run Time - 116 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Robert Firsching

It is easy to understand why Jaws 2 was seen as a disappointing follow-up to one of the most terrifying films ever made. The troubled production, which began with an inexplicable directorial choice -- John Hancock, best known for the surrealistic hippie vampire-ghost pastiche Let's Scare Jessica to Death -- and continued through Hancock's dismissal and the selection of Jeannot Szwarc, fresh off the fire-belching cockroach dud Bug, was doomed by unpromising word of mouth. Nearly a year later, the film was released to big initial box office, but generally unenthusiastic response. Gone was the mounting tension among the original's trio of well-drawn protagonists and the brilliant use of sound, editing, and photography that had combined to create a palpable sense of impending doom. In its place were really two separate films: a melancholy psychological drama concerning Chief Brody's struggles with the Amity Island political machine and his own self-doubt, and a supposed horror film about a group of annoying teenagers on rafts being picked off one by one as their parents bicker onshore. While the action scenes are well edited, sometimes interestingly filmed, and certainly very tight, the fact remains that Jaws 2 was expected to be a horror film. It is not. It is a sea adventure, and not a badly made one, but its problem is its shark. The fish in Jaws 2 is not the quasi-mythical, nightmarish leviathan of the first film. It's just a big, dumb, pesky beast waiting for Brody to get angry enough to buck Amity politics and kill it. Coming on the heels of a cultural phenomenon that made even lifelong beach dwellers think twice before going in the water, it simply wasn't enough.