Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: watch all movies in the Jaws franchise.
That’s right, all of ‘em. The good, the bad, The Revenge. As a huge fan of all things shark-related, I jumped at this chance to review all the Jaws films for you fine people. Let’s dive right in. Yes, there are some spoilers here and there; I give fair warning. Just skim over those parts if need be.
Jaws, 1975 (rated PG)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Peter Benchley (screenplay and original novel) and Carl Gottlieb
What can be said about this beloved horror classic? Jaws is one of the first horror movies I can remember watching. I'll bet a lot of fans would say the same. One of the rare scary movies that breaks down barriers and is celebrated for being a feat of film making. It won three Oscars! Maybe you’ve heard of the film’s director, a fellow named Steven Spielberg? He’s done a few movies here and there over the years. Anyway, did you notice that back in ’75 they rated this movie PG? I somehow don’t think that would fly today.
Jaws is set on Amity Island, a vacation destination gearing up for their busiest weekend, the 4th of July celebration. Chief Martin Brody and his family are new in town. Following a shark attack, Brody is met with opposition from the town council when he tries to close the beach. They’re all worried about scaring away the tourists on the profitable summer weekend. Matt Hooper comes in as an Oceanographer to lend his expertise. He understands the dangers the island faces with the great white on the loose. Some local yahoos catch a tiger shark which Hooper determines couldn’t possibly be our culprit. The stupid and greedy council members eventually listen after another poor sucker dies.
Now, here is when the movie really gets cooking. Brody, Hooper, and shark hunter extraordinaire, Quint, set out on Quint’s boat, The Orca, to hunt down the beast. Quint is one of the best characters in cinematic history, horror or not. He is a snarky old salt who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the hellish five days it took for those men to be rescued. Many died, many were eaten by sharks. Ugly scene. Quint becomes impassioned and ultimately obsessed with killing the dastardly animal and he manages all this while being a complete badass. Don’t believe me? Just look at that steely gaze:
Should I spoil the ending to a 41-year-old movie? I sincerely hope everyone reading this has seen this masterpiece. If not, consider yourself warned. After some seriously intense action scenes of man vs. shark, Quint is the only one of our crew who gets eaten. And what a horribly slow shark munching death it is! Brody is ultimately the one who gets the job done by blowing the shark to pieces. Every time I watch the movie and see him do this, I cringe thinking that little pieces of partially digested Quint had to be in there. Sad. Brody and Martin swim back to shore, and thus ends one of the best horror movies ever. It is a WONDERFUL film and a great introduction to the genre for a new fan. Actually, it’s essential viewing.
Jaws 2, 1978 (rated PG)
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Writers: Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler (Peter Benchley gets credit for creating the characters)
A mere few years after the the realease of Jaws, audiences were graced with Jaws 2. The rating is the same, but we have a new director this time around. We meet up again with Chief Brody, his wife Ellen, and their two sons, little Sean and teen Mike. I feel like Mike aged rapidly between parts 1 & 2. It does seem important to the filmmakers to have had a much more “youthful” presence this time around. There are simply teens everywhere in this movie; teens boating, teens frolicking, teens flirting, and teens finding dead whales. An early scene shows two young women getting attacked by a great white while water skiing. Upon having her boat and friend compromised, the woman driving inexplicably coats herself in gasoline. I guess she was aiming solely for the shark and...um...missed? She then shoots a flare gun, lighting herself and the beast on fire. Now our antagonist has a nice “Two-Face” appearance from its burns.
This charred shark is really aggressive, almost vindictive. It really hates boats. And helicopters. The main action of the film takes place when the Brody boys sneak off with the other sea-faring teens to have a raging party at the lighthouse. The shark delights in this floating buffet! And Martin takes off to save the kids. God love him, he wears those absurd little short shorts for the whole final act.
* Brody gets the shark to bite a power line and fries the devil up extra crispy. I was especially fond of the black smoke pouring out of its eyes. He saves his sons and the majority of those groovy teens. I guess since Quint is dead, Amity Island needs a new resident bad ass. I totally missed the Matt Hooper character in this one! And while it was more “action-packed” than the first, it just doesn’t live up. It is fun and all, and I do recommend revisiting it if you haven’t seen it in a while.
Jaws 3-D, 1983 (rated PG-13)
Director: Joe Alves
Writers: Richard Matheson, Carl Gottlieb, story by Guerdon Trueblood, and, once again, Peter Benchley is given credit for "suggested by the novel."
Okay, let’s get right to the point here. This is less of a film and more of a really long and bizarre commercial for SeaWorld. Seriously. Shamu the famous killer whale even has a damn cameo. As the title suggests, this is a 3-D experience! Not the newfangled 3-D of today mind you, but the kind of yesteryear where things fly at the camera every once in a while.
Young Mike Brody is all grown up and off Amity Island. He has magically turned into a young Denis Quaid and is some kind of construction manager/builder of things for SeaWorld. Mike is dating Kathy, the sweet, senior marine biologist for the park. Eventually, little brother Sean comes to visit, get a job, and stay a while. However, this New England transplant, who has been living in Colorado, has become a water-phobic cowboy. We also welcome Louis Gossett Jr. to the cast as Calvin, the money-grubbing SeaWorld director. As to be expected, a sneaky shark finds its way inside the controlled lagoon. This time, it’s only a baby great white. By the end of the movie, three people manage to get eaten and we, the audience, are shown virtually no carnage or scares. Boring! The special effects in this movie are absolutely HORRIBLE. A personal favorite of mine is any shot with the "submersible" in it. Their attempts are simply embarrassing to behold. By the way, I hope you like dolphins. We get two of those giggly, click-y, little scene-stealers in Jaws 3-D. There are also waterskiers in obnoxious costumes doing tricks.
At one point, some weird British photographers/hunters arrive at the park. As Hollywood as shown us before, these Brits are portrayed with the same stereotypes as their fellow countrymen in almost any animal-themed movie. All they want is fame, fortune, and the thrill of the hunt. Poor baby shark dies in captivity. But the movie doesn’t end there. Aw hell, let’s jump right to the end.
* mama great white, who also managed to stealthly sneak her way into the lagoon, is out to avenge her child. Turns out she was the one killing all those people. What happens next?! Mostly a cheesy, faux shark ends up causing massive amounts of property damage.
This movie is an abomination. It’s not scary, it’s not thrilling, and the body count is depressingly low. Yes, it may be a fun watch for a few laughs, but I couldn’t wait for this deplorable thing to end.
Jaws: The Revenge, 1987 (rated PG-13)
Director: Joseph Sargent
Writers: Michael de Guzman and Peter Benchley (character creation)
The final instalment! Lorraine Gary reprises her role as matriarch Ellen Brody. Sean Brody is back living on Amity Island and is the new chief of police since papa Brody passed away. Within the first few minutes of the film, Sean gets eaten by a great white. Big brother Michael, along with his wife and little daughter, swoop in to take mom on a tropical vacay to their home in the Bahamas. Ellen has been through a lot; though Martin died of a heart attack, Ellen still blames the sharks for that. And with Sean now dead, she is convinced the vengeful animals have it out for the whole Brody clan. Perhaps needless to say, mom is right. The damn great white follows them and almost wipes out two more family members! Now it’s up to Ellen to kill the shark and end this feud.
Make no mistake, this is not a “good” movie by any means; but, it is kinda fun. Ellen is fierce and I love that. After all, this poor woman has been through so much. The filmmakers are clearly proceeding as if Jaws 3-D never happened, and thank God for that. Michael Caine comes on board as Hoagie, a foot-loose and fancy-free pilot who romances Ellen. The story of a family vendetta between the Brody tribe and the great white sharks is silly, this we know. The whole movie has this forced sentimentality vibe. I think they were trying to make audiences nostalgic for the original movie and how much they loved it when they first saw it. In the interest of completing the saga, and rooting for mama Brody, give it at least one viewing. In closing, please enjoy this image, from the film, of a woman being eaten alive whilst on a banana boat.
~ Sandra @LilMsMnstr