(Release Date: June 16, 1978)
Well, many will tell you that this is a vastly inferior sequel and a waste of time akin to the worst sequels ever made (insert Highlander 2 reference here). Others find this to be a very exciting film, and while not a "Cinematic Triumph" like the first one, many actually count this as their favorite of the series (though with subsequent fish filets like Jaws 3D and Jaws The Revenge still floating like fish food in the DVD Racks, Jaws 2 looks like a chip of golden brilliance!).
In truth, this is a very different film from the original Jaws, and, to be honest, it's really not as good. However it is a very solid sequel and truly delivers the scares and the action. Along the way, Jaws 2 sacrifices quite a lot of what made Jaws a Classic, and results in a much more overt and in-your-face experiment compared to the covert creepiness of the original. Further, the plot is really quite similar to the first film, and ultimately is somewhat predictable. On the other hand... let's face it... Jaws 2 is a hell of a lot of fun, it is scary, and it gives the feeling of a very realistic and technically proficient little film.
Sound familiar? Well, as John McClane said in Die Hard 2 "How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?"
Okay, so it's not the most original thing in the world, but it is surprisingly effective where it counts. The first film's mechanical Shark ("Bruce") was famously out of commission for much of the film, which worked to the film's ultimate advantage, creating an unseen stalker of the deep that only surfaced for the fast shocks! Here, the new-and-improved Sharkticon was working almost the whole time, and it showed! "Bruce 2" has so much screen time that Scheider should probably have taken second billing. This makes for a scary and startling series of scenes, but there's none of the real underlying creeping terror that the first film handled so effectively.
What we get instead is a lot of action and a lot of realistic shark attacks that shock a little and impress a lot. Sure it's the same story, but it's told in a vastly different way. This is a fun action film, where the laughter flows easily, not forced and nervous like the first film. And, while it's certainly not the artistic masterpiece the first one is, Jaws 2 never takes itself too seriously, so as never to truly compete with the original. It's a favorite because it's fun... but this ocean isn't that deep, Kemosabe!
Special recognition has to be given to director Jeannot Szwarc, who pulled this film off in spite of the potential mishaps herein. He's got a great eye for action and timing, even if he did go on to direct David Caruso in "CSI: MIAMI". I shudder to think what would have happened if Spielberg hadn't passed on this sequel.
A great film or not, Jaws 2 delivers and comes off as one hell of a sequel. It's not quite up to the water mark of Jaws, but it's no slouch either! Three and a Half Stars out of Five for Jaws 2... a good sequel to a great film! If at all possible, see it in the Wave Pool at your favorite Water Park... but please don't go "half-assed" and bring your portable TV into the Tub with you... I don't want to be on the news, kids!