Jaws 2 (1978)
By: Devon B. on October 17, 2012 | Comments
Universal | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 111 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Starring: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Screenplay: Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler
Country: USA
External Links
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I'm not much of a reader, but I used to be. Jaws was the first adult novel that I ever read, and a few years later I foolishly got it in my head that as a rule "the book is better than the movie." The thing that probably eventually helped me see the error of my ways is I thought that rule also applied to novelizations. I wanted to read all the Jaws books to heighten my appreciation of the stories, and searched in vain for years for the novelization of part three because some liar told me he'd seen it in a store once. But I did get to read the book versions of Jaws: The Revenge and Jaws 2. The added insight that I gained from this in regards to Jaws 2 is I think the shark was a female. And maybe a kitten got killed. I should point out I was reading Jaws 2 at the age of seven or eight, so really can't recall much about it and probably didn't understand a lot of it.

In the film the shark is meant to be a male, or at the very least I thought I spotted a pair of pelvic fins in one scene, but the shark's gender probably isn't that important. What is important is that it eats people, and this shark is much hungrier than its predecessor given it seems to keep wanting to eat and eat even after having a meal. Bewilderingly, it happened to stop for a bite off the coast of Amity Island, which astute viewers will recall was exactly where the events of Jaws occurred. Roy Scheider is back as Chief Brody, and he catches on real quick that there's a new shark, but the town's leaders think he's just being paranoid. He tries to keep his children out of the water, but they disobey him and go sailing and end up in great peril, so Brody once again finds himself on the water in a boat far too small for the task at hand.

I saw Jaws at a young age and loved it, but a few years later a local TV station broadcast Jaws and Jaws 2 one week, so I recorded both films (please don't dob me in for making an illegal copy!). I watched Jaws more off that tape than any of the other editions I owned later (all of which I bought, please don't dob me in!). Because I connected these two films in my mind as part of this "shark week" viewing, I would rarely watch Jaws without following it with Jaws 2, so I've seen Jaws 2 almost as much as I've seen Jaws. Which is a lot. The two movies virtually blurred into one long film in my mind, so I've always been fond of this sequel. In fact, I was far more scared by a moment in Jaws 2 than anything in the first film, so as a purely visceral experience, my younger self was more impacted by Jaws 2. Now when I look at the movie, I really wonder how this happened, because Jaws is a series that practically defines the law of diminishing returns. Admittedly the downward shark slope steepened vastly at Jaws 3(-D), and it's probably not fair to expect any film to live up to Jaws, but the sequel is a significant step down from the original.

One presence that is sorely missed is the great Robert Shaw, here replaced by a group of disposable teens. These teens do have some funny lines, and they're less grating than many disposable teens that would follow, but the whole lot of them do not equal one Robert Shaw. Another thing that could be considered a drop in quality is that Jaws 2 significantly ups the unrealistic shark related elements from the first. This shark seems willing to attack anything on the water, regardless of its size, even though it is shown to get heavily injured using this approach early on. Perhaps the shark's confidence does pay off, because there is one stunt it pulls that should've sliced it like sushi, and it swims away none the worse for wear. It's not just the shark stuff that's gotten sillier, as there are some head scratching plot points that are used to get Brody going mano-a-sharko again.

I actually like the silliness of Jaws 2, despite the loss of tension that happens as a result, because it makes the movie even more of a popcorn flick than its predecessor, which at least had a little depth here and there. The shark was working much more by this time, so Jaws 2 offers a lot more on screen fishy fun than the original. Footage of real sharks is integrated in the action better than in the first film, but the mechanical shark is still stiff, so the real sharks still stand out. The Jaws 2 shark is bigger than Bruce, and judging from the ridiculously entertaining water skier scene, a good deal faster, too.

The movie is mostly about the shark, but Scheider's still fantastic as Brody, and it's interesting seeing Brody's children stepping up as they transition into the series' leads. Once those characters took the reign the series jumped its star, but at least Jaws 2 made the change seem a bit more organic.

The year before Jaws 2's release, a novel called Orca was adapted for the screen. In both the book and the film, an orca makes quick work of a shark. To show what animal should really be feared, in Jaws 2 the shark has taken a few chomps out of a killer whale. Sadly, Orca did not spawn a sequel, so I'll be left to forever wonder where this feud would've led.

Jaws 2 is more ludicrous and less intense than the first movie, but it's still a lot of fun and deserves its place in the good half of the Jaws series.
Jaws 2 sports some spots and specks, so another clean up wouldn't hurt, but it still looks pretty good, especially considering the film's age. There's a little edge enhancement and there are some vertical lines in one scene, but overall the image is more than satisfactory.
The audio is available in English or German 2.0 mixes. The tracks seemed similar when I flipped between them. On the English track the sound was clear, and I always prefer the original audio over a half-assed remix.
Extra Features
The DVD has a making of; an interview with Keith Gordon, who played one of the teens and went on to fall in love with a car; a featurette on John Williams; deleted scenes; storyboards; production photographs; a joke about why the film's title had to be altered for the French market; and two trailers for the film plus trailers for the third and fourth film in the series. The making of is great and runs about 45 minutes, providing plenty of information about the sequel, why it went in the direction it did, and the shark itself. The format is similar to that of the original's making of, but this one is less comprehensive than that exemplary doco. Normally deleted scenes are best left deleted, but this film has two moments that I think should be reinstated. The first is a scene that shows the Mayor, already a much more sympathetic character than last time, is on Brody's side even if he doesn't believe there's a shark. The second is a scene cut because it was too scary, and has some cool underwater scenes with the shark. I can accept the first scene not making it into an extended cut, but I want this bit back in the movie, goddammit. The deleted scenes are not 16x9 enhanced.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I know Jaws 2 is a lesser film than Jaws, but I really like this one too. It's absurd, of course, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining. The DVD presents the film well and with some nifty extras, so, while I would undoubtedly double-dip for a Blu-ray edition, for the moment this disc will do nicely.

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