IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: JAWS 2 (1978)

1

jaws-2-movie-posterIN THE SPOOKLIGHT
BY
MICHAEL ARRUDA

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water—.”
As movie taglines go, this one from JAWS 2 (1978) is one of the best. It also just might be the most memorable part of the entire movie.
To be fair, no sequel was ever going to match Steven Spielberg’s original JAWS (1975).
That being said, I happen to like JAWS 2, although not as much as I did when I first saw it at the movies in 1978 when I was 14 years-old. Back then, I quickly declared it the best movie of the summer, and I liked it almost as much as the original. What can I say? I was young. I was also influenced by a sold-out crowd that was brimming with energy and enthusiasm. The audience cheered during the opening credits when Roy Scheider’s name appeared on screen, just as they had done when Scheider had destroyed the shark at the end of JAWS, and there were plenty of screams and shouts as the movie went on.
Of course, the reality is JAWS 2 is merely an adequate movie, paling in comparison to the original JAWS, and suffering from the repetitiveness from which so many movie sequels suffer. Still, JAWS 2 is far and away the best of the JAWS sequels, which isn’t saying much, since JAWS 3 (1983) and JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987) are both pretty awful.
JAWS 2 opens with a pair of divers discovering the sunken wreckage of the Orca, Quint’s boat from the first movie. Within minutes, the divers are attacked and killed by a shark in a surprisingly tame scene that is vastly inferior to the opening scene in JAWS, the vicious attack on young Chrissy.
JAWS 2 once again takes place on Amity Island, which now looks much bigger, since this sequel was filmed in Florida rather than on tiny Martha’s Vineyard. Four years have passed since the events of JAWS, and Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) is still police chief on the island.
When Brody learns of a possible shark attack, he tries to take action but his efforts are thwarted by Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) and local businessman Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo), whose priorities are keeping the tourist season open and making money. Things get so bad this time around that Brody is actually fired from his position as police chief.
But the shark problem is real, and this time the shark sets its teeth—er, sights— on a group of teenagers— including Brody’s two sons— out sailing. Once more, it’s up to Chief Brody to save the day, as he sets off alone in a boat to take on the shark and rescue the teens, which on its own is no easy task, but it’s even more daunting in this case because Brody lives in deathly fear of water.

JAWS 2 definitely suffers from “been there, done that.” You would think that Mayor Vaughn would have learned his lesson after the first movie, but no, he’s still not listening to Brody. He is slightly more sympathetic this time around, as businessman Len Peterson takes over the pain-in-the-ass heavy role. Peterson gets most of the aggravating lines, and Joseph Mascolo does a nice job making you hate the guy.
But the biggest problem with JAWS 2 is that the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The movie asks us to believe that a second great white shark returns to the same island where another shark had wreaked havoc just a few years earlier. What are the odds? To make matters worse, the film tries to imply that this shark has arrived to seek vengeance for the death of the first shark. Really? This is a theme which permeates the series, as subsequent sequels deal with sharks targeting Brody’s wife and adult sons.
If you’re going to throw something that outlandish into the story, you’d better back it up with some facts or some embellishments to get the audience to buy into it, but JAWS 2 doesn’t do this. It’s almost as the film couldn’t make up its mind if it wanted to go all in with its revenge plot. It’s mentioned, and then it’s forgotten.
The best part of JAWS 2 is the return of Roy Scheider as Martin Brody. He’s excellent once again, and he’s largely responsible for making this the best of the sequels, since he doesn’t appear in the next two movies. The film tries to shake things up by giving more screen time to Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) and Martin’s deputy from the first film, Jeff Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer), and while Gary and Kramer are both very good in these roles, they’re not Richard Dreyfuss or Robert Shaw, who are both greatly missed in this sequel.
While director Jeannot Szwarc does an adequate job at the helm, he’s no Steven Spielberg. The camera just never gets in close enough to really get under your skin. In JAWS, Spielberg’s camera always seemed to be hovering around water level, and with the shark lurking, the effect made you always want to turn away.
Szwarc also decides to show the shark much more than Spielberg did, and while the shark actually looks pretty good, it doesn’t always translate into scary scenes.
That being said, there are some very good scenes in JAWS 2. The attack on one of the teens, Eddie, is as intense as anything seen in the original, and the sequence with the water skier is exciting and suspenseful. Unfortunately, there’s also some not-so-good scenes, like the over-the-top sequence where the shark actually attacks a helicopter. But for the most part, the shark scenes in JAWS 2 are a lot of fun to watch.
The second half of JAWS 2 focuses on the teenagers in their sailboats fighting off the shark, and so the film almost follows the teen slasher formula, which got a boost the same year with the release of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978).
John Williams returns as the film’s music composer, and while it would be ludicrous to say this score is better than his original JAWS score, it is an excellent score. His JAWS theme is back, of course, and he also introduces other themes that were not present in the first movie.
The screenplay by Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler succeeds in telling an exciting story, even if its premise of a shark that attacks an island perhaps out of revenge doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. It also doesn’t feature anywhere near the slate of memorable lines that came out of the first JAWS— that screenplay was co-written by Gottlieb and JAWS author Peter Benchley.
JAWS 2 is not a cinematic classic like its predecessor, but it is a heck of a lot of fun and makes for perfect summer time horror viewing. Just slap on some sun tan lotion, flip on the shades, and settle back in your beach chair, and as you listen to the sounds of happy beach goers and crashing ocean waves, just wait, because soon you’ll hear the ominous notes of John Williams’ music score and then—.
Is that a shark fin I see?
—END—

Advertisements

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: JAWS 2 (1978)

0
Roy Scheider looks to the ocean and wonders, can it be happening to me again?--- in JAWS 2 (1978).  Other than Scheider, there's not much that's memorable about this JAWS sequel.

Roy Scheider looks to the ocean and wonders, can it be happening to me again?— in JAWS 2 (1978). Other than Scheider, there’s not much that’s memorable about this JAWS sequel.

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES:  JAWS 2 (1978)

by

Michael Arruda

 

Welcome to another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, that column where we look at memorable quotes from some pretty neat movies.

Up today, since we’re winding down summer and I’m not in a hurry to see it end, we look at quotes from JAWS 2 (1978).

I still remember seeing JAWS 2 at the movies on its opening night back in the summer of 1978.  I was fourteen, and I was incredibly excited to see this sequel, since I had seen JAWS at the movies on its first run in 1975, when I was just eleven, and it scared the stuffing out of me, and then some!  I wasn’t the only one who was excited to see JAWS 2.  The theater was packed and the audience was buzzing with energy, and I still remember when Roy Scheider’s name appeared in the opening credits, the audience cheered, just like they had done when he had finally destroyed the shark in the original JAWS.  The movie had been that intense.

I loved JAWS 2 when I first saw it on that opening night way back in 1978.  Of course, I was just fourteen years old.  Nowadays, I realize it pales in comparison to the first JAWS, but it remains the best of the three JAWS sequels, largely because Roy Scheider returned as Sheriff Martin Brody.

So, as you would imagine, most of the best lines in JAWS 2 belong to Scheider’s Brody.  Let’s take a look at some of these lines of dialogue from JAWS 2, screenplay by Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler, based on characters created by Peter Benchley.

Actually, my favorite quote from JAWS 2 isn’t a quote at all, but the tagline from the movie:

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water—

 This line proved so popular it actually became somewhat of a catchphrase for the movie.  This line might be the most memorable part of the entire movie, which really isn’t all that good.  But Roy Scheider is good, and he makes the most of his scenes in his reprisal of the role of Chief Martin Brody, the sheriff of Amity Island, once again faced with the prospect of a hungry great white shark on the prowl at his beaches.  This doesn’t really make much sense, which is the biggest problem JAWS 2 has, that its plot isn’t all that credible.  To make matters worse, there are hints in this film that perhaps the second shark has arrived at the island to seek revenge for the death of the first shark.  This might have been more interesting had this idea been better developed, but it’s not.  It’s hinted at here and there, but nothing really comes of it.

Anyway, Scheider’s Brody does get the best lines in the movie, like this one when he’s trying to once again convince the mayor and the town council to close the beaches, in a speech that was featured heavily in the film’s original trailers:

BRODY:  But I’m telling you, and I’m telling everybody at this table that that’s a shark!  And I know what a shark looks like, because I’ve seen one up close.  And you’d better do something about this one, because I don’t intend to go through that hell again!

 

Even though Murray Hamilton reprises his role as Mayor Vaughn in JAWS 2, he’s not the main thorn in Brody’s side, as he was in the first film. He seems to have learned his lesson and is much more sympathetic and understanding towards Brody this time around.  The pain in this movie is local businessman Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo) who wants no part of closing the beaches and refuses to listen to Brody.

Brody tries in vain to convince Peterson that the picture he is looking at shows a shark in their waters.

PETERSON:  Brody, this is nothing!  Seaweed, mud, something on the lens—.

BRODY:  Lens my ass!

PETERSON:  You’re damn right it’s your ass!

 

Also returning from the original JAWS is Jeffrey Kramer as Deputy Hendricks, Brody’s deputy, and once again he’s involved in some of the movie’s more comical scenes, such as in this scene where Brody wants to get out of an annoying conversation with one of the islanders:

BRODY:  Oh, Hendricks, good!  Right this way.  Excuse us, please.  I want you to come in here and er, check out this 908.

HENDRICKS:  What the hell’s a 908?  I’ve never heard of a 908!

BRODY:  908 means get me outta there!

 

In this scene, Hendricks is in the police launch with crusty fisherman Red as they drag the ocean looking for evidence.

RED:  We’ve been over this a dozen times.

HENDRICKS:  I know, I know!

RED:  How much longer?

HENDRICKS:  Until we find something!

RED:  But I’m cold, bored.

HENDRICKS:  You’re bored?

 

Later, when Brody and Hendricks are both on the water in search of the group of teens who had gone sailing and are now missing, Brody asks his deputy for directions.

BRODY:  Where the hell are they?

HENDRICKS:  About ten degrees off your starboard bow.  You take—.

BRODY:  Don’t give me that shit.  Point!

 

At one point, a dead killer whale washes up on the beach, with massive bite wounds prominently exposed all over its body.  Brody examines the dead whale with scientist Dr. Elkins.

BRODY:  Better check the bite radius.

ELKINS: The what?

BRODY:   The shape of the mouth.

ELKINS: The whale’s mouth?

BRODY:  Shark’s mouth.

ELKINS: What shark?

BRODY:  The shark that did this.

 

And moments later:

 

BRODY:  It’s obvious that a big fish took a bite out of— this big fish.

ELKINS: This is a mammal. Not a fish.

BRODY:  Don’t quibble with me!  Is it a shark bite or isn’t it?

ELKINS: Possibly. Again, this is a killer whale.  It would have to be a shark of considerable size.

 

And when Brody tries to insinuate that perhaps this shark might be there because another shark was killed in the local waters, Dr. Elkins replies:

ELKINS: Sharks don’t take things personally, Mr. Brody.

 

And we finish with Brody’s line to the Helicopter pilot, as Brody is in a boat all by himself searching for the missing teens, and of course this is an issue for Brody because not only is he fearful of the shark, but he’s afraid of water in general.  He’s speaking on the radio with the helicopter pilot, hoping that the pilot will find the teens before he does.

HELICOPTER PILOT:  That you, Brody?

BRODY:  Listen, did you have a fix on those kids yet?

HELICOPTER PILOT:  Negative.  I’m still down.

BRODY:  Well, you’d better get the hell up because I’m out here all alone!

 

JAWS 2 is an okay sequel, nowhere near as good as the original, yet it remains mildly entertaining in spite of its silly premise, mostly because of Roy Scheider’s performance as Sheriff Brody.  I still enjoy watching Scheider time and time again.

Well, that’s it for now.  Hope you enjoyed today’s column, and I’ll see you next time when we look at memorable quotes from another fun movie.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael