A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 522 – Jaws 2

Jaws 2 – August 4th, 2011

After watching Jaws last year we decided we should perhaps buy the sequels for the next year’s Shark Week. And lo and behold, it’s the next year’s Shark Week now and so we’re watching the thoroughly pointless sequel to a movie that never really needed one (but ended up getting three). I admit, this is sort of my fault. I have some rather tame childhood memories of the third movie so we decided to get that but then it seemed silly not to get the second and fourth movies if we were getting the third. So now we’re watching this. And yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous.

I think my major issue with this movie isn’t really that it’s bad, it’s that it’s mediocre. There’s nothing revolutionary here. There’s no attempt to do anything different aside from have lots of teenagers involved. The plot is almost identical in shape to the first movie. Until the end, which is sadly lacking. You’ve got Chief Brody, again played by Roy Scheider, and you’ve got a great white shark snacking on people in the water just off the shores of Amity Island. You’ve got Brody warning the town’s authorities that there’s a shark and you’ve got the authorities deciding to err on the side of money and not warn the tourists. And you’ve got a climactic battle between man and shark. Without as much climax.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to say about this movie. The plot isn’t any more complicated than I just explained. Sure, there’s some drama because of the teens but ultimately the movie is a rehash. I don’t particularly mind the whole teenager subplot, it’s just not terribly engrossing. I’m certain it was added in order to try and attract a teenage audience. Whereas the first movie’s focus was on Chief Brody and Matt Hooper and the two of them being bound and determined to convince everyone of the danger, then to take out the shark. The people in danger weren’t the people we were paying attention to. So the introduction of Brody’s kids and the group of teens makes sense on two fronts. I just don’t think it did much in the end.

To make the movie’s shark attacks more personal, we spend a lot of time with elder son, Mike, who’s 17 and wants to go out sailing with his friends. When his father suspects there’s a shark in the area he grounds Mike, gets him a job and tells him to take his boat out of the water. Of course, being 17 and having a group of friends who’ve all grown up on an island, sailing and boating and whatnot, Mike eventually sneaks out, taking his little brother Sean with him. And it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen there, isn’t it? After several attacks on other people and all that ominous music, it’s just a matter of time before the shark goes after the group of teens out enjoying their summers.

There’s nothing really unpredictable about this movie. It’s going through the motions of the first one with a few nods to the timeline and no real innovation. Brody gets fired when he won’t back down from his convictions about the supposed shark attacks but he ends up taking the police boat out anyhow. It doesn’t end up mattering. Nothing that’s supposed to matter in this movie ends up having much effect on anything. There’s a scientist who shows up when a killer whale is beached with lots of injuries and Brody talks at her about great white shark bite radii and then she leaves and nothing ever comes of the conversation. He tries to reach his old pal but his old pal was busy filming another movie so nothing ever comes of him either. It’s a movie full of loose ends and aborted plot points.

It just feels like a nothing of a movie. I’m struggling to find more to say about it because this feels so short to me after several reviews of crappier movies were so much longer. But the crappier movies at least had things to talk about. Like I said, this is mediocre. It wasn’t trying to be as good as the first and it wasn’t trying to break free of it either. It was trying to cash in on the same market and pull in some teens at the same time. I will say that I rather like the teens in this movie. They’re a little rebellious, sure, but they’re not obnoxious or rude or mean. They’re teens. And they’re fairly savvy when it comes to how to handle themselves after they get attacked by the shark. I was pleased to see a few of them remaining relatively cool headed and getting the others to help lash their damaged boats and catamarans together for more stability. But that’s about all I have to say about them. A few of them are doomed, of course, because this is a shark attack movie. But there’s just no real terror here. The ending is distinctly anticlimactic and I found myself hoping that Chief Brody decided to retire somewhere inland where all he has to worry about is land sharks posing as Candygrams.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Jaws 2

placeholderAugust 4, 2011

Jaws 2

“Just when you thought it was safe to do a shark week project for your movie blog…”

For the last three days of shark week Amanda and I are going to watch all three of the completely unnecessary sequels to the granddaddy of all shark attack movies: Jaws. I’ve seen Jaws 3 before, and I’ve seen the laughable end of Jaws: The Revenge before, but I’ve never seen this movie. I kind of think that most people haven’t. It’s an unnecessary sequel that was inevitable after the blockbuster success of the first movie.

I was amused because right at the very beginning of the movie I thought the girl playing Tina Wilcox – “Miss Amity Island” looked extremely familiar to me. I just couldn’t figure out where I knew her from. I thought it was something less than great – maybe a MST movie. I just couldn’t place it, so I checked IMDB, and damned if it wasn’t Ann Dusenberry – the star of Lies, which was a very cool psychological thriller my uncles made in the mid Eighties. It blows my mind that after all these years I recognised her even if I couldn’t place her.

This movie is mired in the seventies. Far more so than the first Jaws film. For some reason, even though the first film takes place in 1975 and features all of the fashions thereof during the segments that take place on land once the three lead characters take to the sea to hunt down the shark it becomes fairly timeless. This movie stays closer to shore – pretty much reprising the first half of Jaws but with more kids in peril. And oh, are the fashions displayed by this cast of teenage characters heavily dated, from hair to clothes. It’s impressive.

Amanda complained as we watched this, and I have to agree, that it brings nothing fresh to the Jaws world. Indeed this film is almost a re-make of the first movie except that it doesn’t feature the male bonding and adventure of the second half. Instead it concentrates on Police Chief Brodie and his attempts to convince the recalcitrant officials of Amity Island that there is a giant shark threatening the beaches. You may recall in the first movie the scene where Brodie’s son is riding a little boat in an estuary away from the beach and the shark threatens him? Well expand that single scene into a full length movie and you have this film.

Roy Scheider returns as Martin Brodie and his primary rival continues to be Murray Hamilton as Mayor Vaughn. When vacationers start to disappear and a killer whale with big chunks taken out of it washes up on a beach Brodie instantly knows what’s up: there’s another big shark out there. But there’s a big hotel development going up on the island and the pressure is on to show the place in the best possible light so naturally Mayor Vaughn resists any attempts to close the beaches. It ends up being a big show down and when Brodie causes a panic on the beach after thinking he’s spotted the shark (this scene was much cooler in the original Jaws with very cool cuts between Brodie’s POV and the dawning horror on his face – but what do you want with a lazy sequel like this) the local council fire Brodie for disturbing the peace.

Meanwhile all of the local teens are spending the summer taking day trips out in a variety of little boats and generally acting like teens (making out and stealing their fathers’ beer and such) so when everybody finally does become convinced that the new shark is real all the children are far away from the island and isolated on their little craft. Naturally it is up to Brodie, all alone with a little launch that somehow in the five years of being police chief for an isolated island town he has never learned how to drive, to defeat the monster and save any surviving children.

This was not directed by Stephen Spielberg, and it shows. Spielberg, in the first Jaws movie, very wisely gave as little screen time to the rubber shark as possible. This time around it is shown rather too much, and it is not at all convincing or horrifying. In an attempt (I assume) to make the monster more frightening or to give it character or something this shark becomes scarred and burned during one of its attacks, but the end result is that it looks even more fake than before. The “burned flesh” of the shark looks more rubbery and silly than ever before. It’s like people are being attacked by a poorly articulated singed muppet.

I said that this sequel was lazy and I meant it. It has nothing whatsoever new to contribute to the first film and re-treads the more tiresome parts of that movie. The first Jaws doesn’t really come to life until Quint, Brodie and Hooper set out to hunt the monster down – and this movie doesn’t seem to understand that at all. It’s more about the shark attacks than about the pitting of man against an unstoppable force of nature. Also, I have to say as a viewer jaded by years and years of monster attack movies the ending feels flimsy and unsatisfying. Perhaps in the day it worked, but now I am distinctly left wanting more.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment