WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Set four years after the original, Police Chief Brody (the great Roy Scheider) has finally gotten the chance to ease his troubled mind after the horror of the first Amity shark attacks. But just when things seem to be settling down, swimmers and water skiers start mysteriously disappearing without any explanations. At that point, it’s up to the Chief to try and track the down the monster shark before more people end up as human bait for ol’ Jawsie.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’m a huge fan of this series, so my review might be just a tad biased, but I sincerely think that this a really campy and fun follow-up which succeeds on several levels. First off, it’s a moot point to try and compare this one to the original simply because they’re such different films. The first one was built masterfully on solid foundations of terrifying suspense and psychological head games. The shark didn’t show up until the last quarter of the movie and much of the horror was all in our heads, wondering what the unseen beast looked like. This one, however, basically grabs the reigns and heads off in the exact opposite direction. They don’t waste any time letting the shark loose on an aquatic rampage and the sonofabitch spends half the movie jumping out of the water and grabbing people left and right! It’s much more an action genre film with plenty of great scenes, including fiery explosions and electrocutions. Forget the fact that the shark tends to look a little fake on certain angles, check your disbelief at the door and go along for the ride.
Another interesting aspect of this movie is the whole "teenager angle" as most of the second half focuses on their plight as they try and escape after their boats are attacked by the shark. It basically takes the slasher formula and applies it to a "Jaws" movie, with plenty of good kill scenes to satisfy most horror fans. Just when you think everyone’s going to be alright, the sneaky bastard manages to always return for a second helping. If there’s one thing I would’ve changed about the movie, it would be the placement of John Williams’ score. While it worked to perfection in the original, much of the suspense in this one is hurt by the music which badly telegraphs all the shark’s appearances. In terms of acting, the kids do a decent job of playing out their scenes (except for one girl, who gets the award for Best Overacting in a Screaming Role) but Roy Scheider basically carries the movie the whole way through. He picks up where he left off in the original and continues kicking ass all over the place as the misunderstood head of police. With campy action, great ocean shots and a big heaping of shark mayhem, Jaws 2 delivers the goods. Sure, it might be cheesy but it’s high grade cheese!
First up for the supplements is “The Making of Jaws 2”, a 46-minute documentary which highlights interviews from producers David Brown and Richard D. Zanuck, director Jeannot Szwarc, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and others. They explain their motives for creating the sequel, the difficulties they had in filming the shark as well as great productions stories. A tribute to the late Murray Hamilton was a really nice touch too (Cool tidbit: producers of the third movie wanted to create a spoof of the first two, calling it “Jaws 3, People 0”). While most fans have seen the making of the original, this great behind-the-scenes look has never been seen before and is a must look. “Jaws 2: A Portrait of Keith Gordon” is an 8-minute retrospective from one of the actors about his time spent on the film. We learn that the teenagers spent a lot of their time standing around while technicians tried to fix the mechanically error prone shark and brief touches on the sometimes tumultuous relationships between cast members.
“John Williams: The Music of Jaws 2” is a 7-minute look at the celebrated composer’s involvement with the sequel through a series of interviews. “The French Joke” is a quickie 90-second explanation on how the French release of Jaws 2 had to be renamed because of translation problems. (Translated literally, "Les Dents de La Mer" meant the “Teeth of the Sea” but the second one would have been called: “The Teeth of the Shit”). Great still photo galleries from filming, the two original trailers, production notes as well as storyboards are also included. Some cool shark facts also find their way onto the disc. Four very brief 1-minute deleted scenes round out the extras, with a cool extended kill scene of the helicopter pilot being one of them. The menus for the DVD are animated and feature the infamous Jaws score.
With a jam packed DVD of solid extras and one campy good time, Jaws 2 gets my seal of approval. While I would’ve liked to have had that kick ass Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the release manages to deliver on every other level. Granted, I’m a huge fan of the series so maybe I’m a little overexcited in my appreciation for this release. Realizing that, I think this one qualifies as a surefire rental which shouldn’t disappoint but don’t go in expecting Oscar quality material! Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the video store…