The first Jaws was one of the first and select few horror movies to get actual critical acclaim and ushered in the idea of the summer blockbuster. It really is a no brainer that Universal would try to milk some more cash out of this giant monster. I know that a lot of people shit on the sequels for being terrible but since I had never actually watched anything but the original, I figured it was time to see if the return of the great white shark was as bad as everyone says.
Jaws 2 takes us back to the resort town of Amity Island, 3 years after the events of the first movie. Brody is still the town sheriff and things have mostly gone back to normal. The beginning of the movie closely follows in the footsteps of the original with some divers going missing and a possible shark attack causing a boating accident. Brody is dismissed as being paranoid due to his previous experiences and I honestly can’t believe that the Mayor from the first film is still in office. The second half of the film pivots to more of a survival at sea story as a group of teens, including Brody’s own kids, that go boating end up getting attacked by the shark and stranded on broken boats hoping for rescue while still being stalked by the aggressive great white.
I think the way that the movie shifts is a much better way to handle having a sequel. At first, it seemed like the movie was just going to be a complete rehash of the first film but missing a large chunk of the cast that made it so compelling. It’s so hard to recapture what makes an original great that it’s a much better idea to do something unique than try to make the same story all over again. The focus on the teens makes for a different dynamic that then plays up the feelings of helplessness and futility in fighting back against what is essentially a force of nature. I also appreciate that the number of deaths stayed pretty low since there is a tendency to up the body count when dealing with horror movie sequels.
One of the surprising things that I didn’t realize until I started up the movie was that this and the original Jaws were rated PG. You’d think that even without swearing or showing people getting eaten in gory detail that just the fact that people were being eaten would be enough to bump them up to PG-13 but apparently not. The suspense that comes from the stranded teens doesn’t require a lot of the things that might have made it get a higher rating and I think it’s great that they didn’t add it in just because they could. While it definitely doesn’t reach the same impact that a classic such as jaws has, I do think that this is a pretty well done sequel, all things considered.
I would give Jaws 2 a 3 out of 5. It takes a while for it to really get going and find its footing but once it does, it’s a solid film.
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Fun fact: PG-13 would not exist as a rating for another six years. Your options in 1978 were G, PG, R, and X.
Huh, that IS a fun fact.
It was, I think, early 80s Spielberg films (Indiana Jones, especially) and some others that got PG-13 created.