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Jeannot Szwarc
Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Writing Credits:
Carl Gottlieb, Howard Sackler

Police chief Brody must protect the citizens of Amity after a second monstrous shark begins terrorizing the waters.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Opening Weekend
$9,866,023 on 640 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Portuguese Monaural
Spanish Monaural
French Monaural
Castillian Monaural
German Monaural
Japanese Monaural
French Canadian
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 117 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 6/14/2016

• Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Jaws 2” Documentary
• “Jaws 2: A Portrait by Keith Gordon” Featurette
• “John Williams: Jaws 2” Featurette
• “The ‘French’ Joke” Featurette
• Storyboards
• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Jaws 2 [Blu-Ray] (1978)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 24, 2016)

Let’s hear it for nostalgic pleasures, as we look at my introduction to the cinematic joys of killer sharks: 1978’s Jaws 2. The original film hit screens when I was eight years old, and frankly, I was too much of a wussy boy to see it.

By the age of eleven, however, I was fully prepared for some real screen-chomping, so my friend Kevin and I eagerly rushed to see Jaws 2 the day it appeared on local screens. Actually, it was a doubly-exciting time for us, since the movie came out on the last day of fifth grade. What better way to start the summer than with a little violent entertainment?

And make no mistake about it: Jaws 2 really captivated me. As a kid, I must admit that I changed allegiances fairly rapidly, and Jaws 2 was one in a line of my “all-time” favorite films.

Still, I loved it well enough that it briefly possessed that minor honor, and I eventually saw it six times during its theatrical run. I just couldn’t get enough of that shark!

I finally saw the original Jaws during a theatrical reissue in the summer of 1979. I thought it was really cool, though I continued to prefer the sequel. In time, I would change my mind; I can’t pin down the exact period during which I realized that 1975’s Jaws blew away the sequel, but when I finally appreciated the original over the sequel, I never looked back.

Though my critical appreciation of Jaws 2 faded over the years, its nostalgic appeal remains strong, so I periodically check it out again. Adult viewings of childhood favorites are dangerous, as theu can damage precious memories. As such, I’ve always gone into each new screening of Jaws 2 with trepidation.

That’s the case for one strong reason: Jaws 2 simply isn’t a very good movie. Of the first film’s three main characters, only one returns: Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), police chief of small vacation island Amity.

Although some supporting personnel come back for the second movie - including Brody’s wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary), his kids and Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) - we don’t find the other leads of Jaws. Anyone who’s seen the first flick knows why Quint (Robert Shaw) didn’t return, but the absence of Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfus) seems less logical.

In any case, Jaws 2 functions almost as a remake of the original film. Another great white shark menaces the shores of Amity, and only Brody seems concerned.

Actually, the presence of the shark is less clear-cut to the islanders in the sequel; there have been some mishaps, but no one can say for certain that it was a shark. Brody’s pretty positive a new beastie is responsible, but no one believes him.

Ultimately, Brody is proven correct, but not until many of the island’s young folk are put in danger. In Jaws, Brody, Hooper and Quint specifically went out after the shark to restore Amity’s diminishing commercial fortunes. In the sequel, however, the presence of the fish has not had any impact on the island; despite the place’s history, its tourist trade seems to thrive. However, when the shark attacks a group of teens - including Brody’s 17-year-old son Mike (Mark Gruner) and 11-year-old son Sean (Marc Gilpin) - it’s Brody to the rescue.

Both Jaws and the sequel show similar structues. In their first halves, the audience and Brody become aware of the threat, but it’s not until the second parts of the films that anyone really does anything about it. Of course, the crew in Jaws proactively went after the shark, whereas in the second film Brody works in a more reactive “rescue mode”.

At times, Jaws 2 can offer some fun moments. A few of the shark attacks are well-executed, with the best involving a rescue helicopter. The fish itself still doesn’t look terribly convincing, but the sequel’s beast was a better mechanical animal than the one we saw in the first movie.

Other than a smattering of good action bits, though, Jaws 2 is a bit of a dud. Perhaps it’s not fair to compare it to the classic original, but such viewpoints become inevitable, and the sequel comes up lacking in virtually every category.

My primary disappointment with Jaws 2 stems from character development. In the original, the roles all seem well-defined and rich. All three leads feel full-blooded and believable, and the supporting parts fit neatly into their niches; none of them come across like generic roles, and they mesh with the other personae well.

That doesn’t happen in the sequel. For one, we really feel the absence of strong actors like Shaw and Dreyfuss. In their absence, we get a roster of teens, none of whom show much presence.

Gary and Hamilton take over the co-lead billing once occupied by Shaw and Dreyfuss, but their roles aren’t nearly as important or well-developed. Actually, both Vaughn and Ellen seemed better-realized in the first movie; their roles receive no real expansion in the sequel, and they exist here mainly to fill space.

While Jaws brought us a taut psychological “man vs. beast” thriller, the sequel offers nothing more than popcorn fare. The teens go to sea just to be shark bait and to lure Brody after them - there’s nothing more substantial at work. It’s a simple scare ride in which some thin characters are put into dicey situations to draw a response from the audience.

As such, Jaws 2 acts as a missed opportunity. Throughout the movie, we see the underpinnings of psychological issues that affect Brody. After the nightmare he experienced with the first shark, he’s a guy ripe for a breakdown, and the “accidents” that start to occur look like they’ll push him over the edge.

That never happens, and it never almost happens. Although we see some small hints of self-doubt, the film never lets these take root for one debilitating reason: the audience knows that Brody’s right. The movie clearly shows us that a new shark patrols the Amity coast, so we’re in Brody’s corner from minute one.

This becomes a terrible mistake, as Jaws 2 could have been much more interesting if the audience saw things solely from Brody’s point of view. In that case, we’d be just as unsure as he may be, and we’d wonder about his sanity.

As it stands, we never have any concerns about his mental state, and we just hate the cardboard-cutout villains represented by the town council. They refuse to see the truth that we know exists, so we get no psychological nuance.

Because of this decision, the story of Jaws 2 becomes little more than an exercise in the inevitable. We know there’s a shark, and we know Brody will have to fight it. We know that a number of folks will be eaten along the way. We don’t know who, and we don’t know how Brody will stop the fish, but otherwise, the rest of the path feels predetermined.

Just because a film is predictable doesn’t mean that it has to be bad, and in truth, Jaws 2 isn’t a terrible flick. Director Jeannot Szwarc helmed some serious stinkers over the years - he made both Supergirl and Santa Claus: The Movie - but Jaws 2 doesn’t deserve to stand among those duds.

However, it remains a fairly unsatisfying sequel, one that strips the original to its barest elements. As Jaws 2 grabs the overt action of the first film, it loses that flick’s tension and drive.

Indeed, the lack of stress seems fairly astonishing – even with all the potential victims, it never feels like much is at stake. In Jaws, it was clear that the survival of a community depended on the actions of its chief, whereas in the sequel, nothing much ever seems to be at risk.

Without that threat or danger, the film becomes little more than a series of moderately-effective action sequences. If you want to see some decent shark attack scenes, Jaws 2 will probably make you happy. However, if you seek something with a little more meat on its bones, the original Jaws remains the only game in town.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Jaws 2 appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Much of the image looked very good, but it came with more flaws than I’d like.

Sharpness consistently seemed positive. Throughout the movie, the picture remained crisp and well-defined, with hardly any soft elements on display. No jagged edges or shimmering caused concerns, and I saw no edge haloes.

Jaws 2 maintained a naturalistic palette, and the disc replicated these colors well. Throughout the film, the hues appeared clear and accurate, with no signs of bleeding or noise. The variety of tones seen in the sailboats looked rich and vivid, and a few other scenes - such as the opening party at the resort - also provided colors that were fairly lively and vibrant.

Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark. Though some shadows could appear a little heavy, for the most part low level scenes came across as appropriately thick but not excessively opaque.

The transfer lost points due to print flaws, as I saw white specks occasionally throughout the movie. These seemed to arrive in batches during the movie, so they weren’t a constant distraction. The opening credits looked worst, and I briefly hoped the specks would vanish after the credits, but periodic recurrences marred the rest of the movie. These were infrequent enough to leave most of the film clean, but I thought the print flaws took away from the transfer and left this as a “B-“ image.

Given the film’s age, I felt relatively pleased with the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Jaws 2. Dialogue was consistently crisp and acceptably natural. I heard no problems related to edgy or brittle tones, and intelligibility seemed to be strong.

Effects lacked much dynamic range, and they could be a little dense, but they generally were reasonably clear and accurate, with no signs of distortion. The music also failed to convey a sense of strength or power, but the score was replicated with adequate fidelity. Ultimately, Jaws 2 provided a fairly good soundtrack for its era.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio seemed fairly similar – the lossless track showed a little more range, but not a lot. Visuals came across as tighter and more dynamic. Even with the print flaws, the Blu-ray gave us a clear upgrade in terms of picture.

The Blu-ray replicates most of the DVD’s extras, and we open with The Making of Jaws 2, a 45-minute, 22-second documentary. We hear from director Jeannot Szwarc, producers David Brown and Richard Zanuck, co-writer Carl Gottlieb, and associate producer/production designer Joe Alves.

While we find a decent report on background issues - such as the departure of the film’s original director - most of the show sticks with technical concerns. We discover a fair amount of information related to the production challenges that affected the shoot, and the program details these problems.

While I like “The Making of Jaws 2”, it suffers from two major deficits. For one, it includes far too many film clips. This show wasn’t created to promote the movie, and pretty much anyone who watches it already knows the flick.

As such, the preponderance of scenes from the film seems redundant and pointless. I don’t mind documentaries that use occasional movie snippets to illustrate thoughts, but sometimes they become excessive, and that occurs here.

The absence of actors also becomes a disappointment. Murray Hamilton had died by the time “Making” was created, but the other performers were still with us back then, so it’s too bad none of them appear. Even so, “Making” works fairly well – it falls short of greatness but it tells us a lot about the production.

Jaws 2: A Portrait By Actor Keith Gordon rectifies this a little. Although Gordon appears nowhere in the full documentary, he gets this eight-minute, 18-second piece all to himself. Here we find recent interviews with Gordon as he relates memories of his experiences on the film. I don’t know why these weren’t simply integrated with the documentary, but they add a nice perspective on the flick.

During the seven-minute, 12-second John Williams: The Music of Jaws 2, we hear from director Szwarc, producers Zanuck and Brown and composer Williams himself as they discuss the challenges created by the sequel.

Williams’ remarks lack specificity at times - as he admits at one point, he has trouble remembering what work he did for Jaws and what he performed for the sequel. Nonetheless, this piece still offers a good look at this aspect of filmmaking.

The “French” Joke features a brief one-minute, 18-second interview clip with Szwarc as he talks about his return to his native France to promote the film. The “Joke” aspect of the story discusses a mildly-witty pun that would have occurred if the movie had received its logical title in France.

More interesting are the four Deleted Scenes provided. We find “Martin, Ellen and Peterson” (2:06), “At Home with the Brodies” (1:25), “The Vote” (0:43) and “Underwater: The Shark Attacks the Helicopter Pilot” (0:25).

While the clips are brief, they still are fun to see, and at least one of them should have made the final film. “The Vote” shows an aspect of Mayor Vaughn’s personality that would have added a lot to the character; its absence from the finished cut makes him look more like an ingrate and a bad guy than was necessary.

Storyboards includes drawings for three scenes: “The Water-skiing Attack” (24 frames), “The Shark Attacks Doug’s Boat” (12 images) and “Underwater Concept Sequence” (18 shots). We also get two theatrical trailers for Jaws 2. One came for the movie’s original 1978 release, and the other promoted a 1979 re-issue of the film.

Oddly, the re-release clip appears first; shouldn’t it have been the other way? In any case, I do have to give credit to the publicists; with “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”, they came up with a brilliant tag line for the movie.

Although Jaws 2 will always maintain a fond spot in my memories, I must face facts: it’s not much of a movie. To be certain, parts of the film offer some reasonably well-executed action sequences, but the flick lacks tension or character and provides little more than a few moments of excitement. The Blu-ray offers mostly positive picture and audio with a reasonable array of supplements. As much as I want to love Jaws 2, it remains a lackluster movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3 Stars Number of Votes: 10
7 3:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main