A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 524 – Jaws: The Revenge

Jaws: The Revenge – August 6th, 2011

I had heard things about this movie. Not good things, I assure you. Just, things. Andy explained to me that it actually bore the tagline “This time, it’s personal.” Which has to be a joke. It’s a joke, right? This whole movie is a joke? I can’t think that it could possibly have been made seriously. The people responsible had to have known they were making something thoroughly ridiculous. It’s a movie about a shark hunting down members of the Brody family and attacking them, from Amity Island in New England to the Bahamas. How can anyone involved have looked at that plot idea and looked at the prior movies and not realized they were making a joke? They can’t have. It’s impossible.

While talking about the movie with Andy, I mentioned that it’s possible to read this movie semi-seriously if one assumes it’s all happening inside the head of Ellen Brody, Chief Brody’s wife. The movie starts out on Amity Island, where Sean Brody has taken his late father’s place on the island’s tiny police force. It’s Christmastime and he’s about to spend the evening with his mother and his fiancee when he gets called out to deal with a log that’s stuck on one of the channel markers. Apparently this was a trap set by the shark, which snaps his arm off as he reaches out to move the log, then gobbles him up. Overcome with grief, Ellen is convinced to join her elder son, Michael, and his family down in the Bahamas for the holiday. Where the shark again appears, this time coming after Michael, his daughter Thea and Ellen herself before Ellen kills it.

Throughout the movie Ellen has nightmares and frequently obsesses over her remaining son and his family living near and working in and around the ocean. She begs Michael to give up his research on conchs and take a teaching job somewhere safely inland. And when the shark shows up near the boat Michael and his research team are working on, ignoring the rest of the team in favor of going after Michael alone, Ellen knows something has happened even though she’s not at all nearby. She tells Michael that the shark’s killed both his father and his brother, to which Michael responds that his father died of a heart attack. Ellen claims that it was fear of the shark that gave him that heart attack. So this is my theory: While this movie could well be just poorly plotted and ill-conceived, cashing in on the franchise and trying for cheese but falling just short of it, it’s also possible that someone had some sort of purpose and was going for a psychological thriller concept.

Oh, I’m not saying it’s well done. I mean, if the psychological thriller aspect was intentional, then it was very poorly executed. It almost makes me wish that it had been intentional and that someone had managed to pull it off. After all, even though this movie is clearly ignoring Jaws 3 in its timeline, we’re still talking about a family that’s had more than its share of close calls with sharks. I can easily see Chief Brody camped out up in his shark watch tower, year round, thermos of coffee and a shotgun close at hand, obsessing over the shark for the rest of his life. I can see that sort of obsession taking its toll on him and on his marriage. On his wife. On his children. So his wife obsessing to the point of fantasizing that her entire family is in danger from the shark? That she’s the one who ultimately saves the day? Toss in the burgeoning romance between her and the pilot who brings them to the Bahamas and I could buy that. I want to buy that.

Unfortunately, even if someone involved with the movie did have that idea at some point in the making of it, it wasn’t really incorporated into what ended up on the screen. According to some reading I’ve done on the movie, apparently the whole revenge thing and the shark’s obsession with the Brody family was supposed to be due to a witch doctor using voodoo to kill them all off. I like my version better. It’s at least less culturally offensive. It does rely on the old “it was all a dream” trope, but that’s the least of this movie’s problems, to be honest.

I won’t say that the performances are bad. They’re adequate. Same for pretty much everything here. It’s all just adequate. Which means that there’s nothing to elevate the absolutely laughable plot to something other than bad. And they’re not self-aware enough about what sort of movie they’re in to take it to cheese levels. I mean, this movie has Michael Caine in it as the pilot who flirts with Ellen Brody. This movie has Michael Caine! And the best I can say about it is that the scenery is pretty and the performances don’t suck. And that it has Michael Caine, whom I do adore no matter what. I hope he made decent money from this and I wish it had been a better movie. I wish it had tried to go in one way or another, fantastically bad or chillingly good, because bobbing along in between just makes for a mess that nothing – not even Ellen Brody’s gigantic shoulder pads – can save.

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August 6, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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