so this past weekend it was fucking hot in boston. again. and what do we do when it’s hot? well, i rewatch jaws. not obsessively, mind you, about once or twice every summer season but still. it has to be done and i’m the woman to do it.
but it occurred to me that i’d never seen any of the jaws sequels — quite a few, weren’t there? and when i was on netflix looking for something else — withnail & i, if you must know, which my acupuncturist informed me was my homework after he was done being appalled that i hadn’t seen it yet! but he hadn’t seen little britain, so i figure it’s all equal — what d’you think but netflix had put up all the jaws sequels in wonderful glorious pixellated starz-ness. (am i the only one who gets wicked pixellation on the starz movies?)
when it topped 90 before noon on saturday, it seemed as though those sequels were just callin’ my name.
and what i’m really interested in here is the fact that the second one — poetically called jaws 2 — is such crap and i say this as a dedicated fan of the bad movie: i buy them; i rent them; i seek them out — i’m a particular fan of the bad ’50s and early ’60s sci-fi movie — particularly japanese or british. true incomprehensibility isn’t fun — i’m not after something that’s gnomic in its badness. i’m more after the gamera/the day of the triffids/journey to the center of the earth (the one with james mason) badness. i’ll take worse — i do own doom, after all! — but i love bad creature effects, guys in rubber suits, obvious model shots, awkward acting, and plots that take random turns in the last 5 minutes because the screenwriters just figured out what had to happen and had no time to rewrite!
and jaws 2 was worse than all of that put in one movie, blended, frothed to a tasty goodness, and mixed with cesar romero, john agar, hugh beaumont, and a random little japanese boy.
it was slow; it was boring; it was practically a sleeping pill in movie form. about the only good thing you could say about it was that roy scheider tried (and he tried well) and john williams clearly didn’t waste too much time on the soundtrack.
part of the reason for my puzzlement here is that jaws 2 isn’t so much an homage to spielberg’s original film as it is a total hash-job of it. the story’s the same — great white cruises into waters off amity island; starts chowing down on holiday-goers; sheriff brody struggles to convince commercially minded city council; gets in trouble; shark goes ballistic in large public way; everyone goes, “oh, brody! we’re so sorry! save our sorry asses!”; and he does. tah-dah — end of story.
but whereas jaws has you munching your fingernails when you run out of popcorn, this one nearly put me to sleep. there was no character development; the plot was okay but nothing to write home about and barely advanced from minute 1 to minute 119; and the tension? where was it? you have a giant. killer. man-eater. white. shark. and i’m bored, movie! wtf! i spent the last 20 minutes of the movie desperately hoping that the shark would scoff the terribly annoying teenagers and save the human race from their potential contribution to the gene pool.
jaws 2 seems to ricochet back and forth between a slavish adherence to the first movie and a deeply 1950s sensibibility that them darn teens what with their tight pants and their rock n’ roll music and their kissing with tongues must be punished. and what better way to punish them than by stranding them in mid-ocean with a homicidal shark circling in? oh, and lets just pander to pretty much every bad horror movie chick stereotype while we’re at it, shall we? lorraine gary — who played mrs. brody with some guts, intelligence, and sensibility in the first movie — is reduced to running around after her men in a way i really hope the actress was ashamed of; and as for the interchangeable teenage girls? the first sign of stress and they become either a) hysterical (what was with that girl who wouldn’t shut up with the screaming?); b) shock-ridden (thanks for helping me while the shark was nibbling on my toes, hun! really — you don’t need to try and save me or anything!); c) or completely silent (really, the best option of the three). it’s pathetic.
it’s just a bad sequel is what i’m saying. bad bad bad. really really awful. all the sins which a bad action movie can commit, this one does, being absolutely mindnumbingly dull right from the get-go. and the worst thing about it is how hard it tries to piggyback on the original, down to ripping scenes — the long, loving shots of beach-goers, anyone? yeah, but spielberg didn’t use them in the original to make fun of the overweight bathers! — straight from the first movie. if you’re going to be bad, at least have the courage to be bad in an original way; don’t haul someone else down with you!
i tried to find scenes here to compare to give you a sense of the crap that is committed on screen here. i managed to find a perfectly reasonable rip of the closing scene of jaws — just as impressive to watch if you haven’t seen the movie — but all i could find from jaws 2 was a video someone clearly made off their tv on their phone. and after some deliberation, i decided that was just fine.
but sadly, believe it or not, that’s all i could find for the ending of the original movie, too! also — wtf? i’m really going to have to up my technical competence one of these days so i can rip my own damn scenes; youtube is letting me down once too often!
i can say that, in comparison to this two hours of boring pain, jaws 3 seemed quite charming. 🙂