Plot: What’s it about?
Back in the 1970’s, sequels were not what they are today. Today it seems that every sub-par movie that has some semblance of an audience can have another two or three installments (The Substitute, Leprachaun, Urban Legends and Mimic come to mind). But back then, there was only a “Part II” if there was really a demand for it. They mention in the documentary that Planet of the Apes was really the forerunner of the “sequel” thing. Jaws certainly had an audience, at the time, it was one of the top grossing movies ever. Stephen Spielberg had helped the original and wanted nothing to do with another installment, he felt that he had made the “defacto” movie and that it wasn’t to be messed with. Of course, the producers always seeing dollar signs, felt that if they didn’t make another part, then someone else would. And so, a few years after Jaws scared everyone out of the water, Jaws 2 opened up with the catch phrase “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”. I’ll bet the beach resorts just loved that! Jaws 2 is essentially the same thing as Jaws, minus Richard Dreyfuss. Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) is still doing his thing, though there have been some accidents that lead him to believe that the shark attacks might start up again. The town of Amity has tried to forget the terror that happened a few years back and all the local residents are planning for another long, hot Summer that will hopefully bring the tourists into town.
Jaws 2 does concentrate more on the Chief and his family more so than the original. It seems that the original was so intent on scaring the hell out of you, it didn’t have time for any other issues. Not in a bad way, of course, as the original Jaws is among my favorite movies of all time. Brody once again is convinced that another killer, great white shark is circling and waiting to snack on some islanders. His wife is now working with the town to try and increase visitors to the town and hopefully making life for everyone else all that better. The poster for Jaws 2, as you might remember, has Jaws getting ready to attack a water-skier who is out for a ride. This scene actually takes place in the movie, and aside from it, most of the attacks seem to concentrate on a group of kids that are out having a good time…sailing. Brody’s sons, Michael and Shawn, are among the group of kids who are out on the sound trying to get back to shore in one piece. As the attacks increase, it becomes clear to Brody that another shark is indeed in the water, though the town (in their single minded way) doesn’t want to believe it. I mean really…didn’t they learn anything from before?!? Brody makes a fool of himself, not wanting to repeat what happened before, and is soon fired from his job for making a scene at the beach.
Odds are that if you’ve seen the first Jaws, and not many people haven’t, then you’ll have seen this one. After this one, the other Jaws movies seemed to just not be as good. I seem to recall “Jaws 3” in 3-D. Wow. But Jaws 2, I felt, was a worthy sequel, even if topping the original was next to impossible. Though plagued with production problems from the get go, be prepared for more of the same (da da dum…) music and a more elaborate score from John Williams. The kids make up an ensemble cast that features Keith Gordon (Back to School and Christine as an actor and Waking the Dead as a Director) who also is featured in one of the featurettes. Odds are that if you’re a fan of the first movie, then you’ll want to add this to your collection as well. Universal has done a good job with the disc, and it’s worth a purchase or a rental at the very least.
Video: How does it look?
Jaws 2, like the original, is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic image. Something struck me as odd when I first viewed the disc. On my TV (a 16:9 TV), the bars seemed to be uneven. That is to say that the image was all there, but the bar at the top was much thinner than the bar at the bottom. It’s like you wanted to just physically “move” the image down about three inches. It’s the same thing that I noticed on the Heat Laserdisc. Odd, but don’t let it distract you from the movie. Aside from that, the image looks very good, many of the scenes appear very bright and vivid, and I have to say that I wasn’t expecting such a good, clean picture from this movie. Some indoor scenes appear to be murky and have some artifacting, but the print used appears to be clean and free of any major errors. Fleshtones seem to be accurate, but in some scenes the red tones appear to be pushed up a bit. That or the actors had spent too much time in the sun and had tans! On the whole, I have to say that I was impressed. While it doesn’t compare to the brand new films of today, I was expecting a whole lot worse.
Audio: How does it sound?
Unlike the original, which had a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a DTS track as well (two separate discs, by the way), Jaws 2 is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track. This, naturally, limits the range of sound, but you still hear the trademark score to let you know when Jaws will pop out of the water. Some of the dialogue has that “broken off” sound and you instantly know that it’s a movie at least twenty years old. But the screams sound great and everything else that’s associated with it as well. Though not the best soundtrack out there, this serves it’s purpose and I don’t think anyone will be disappointed with it. Though you might be surprised when you pop in a “new” movie and hear the 5.1 kick in…it’s then that you’ll hear what you’ve been missing. But do it after the movie!
Supplements: What are the extras?
While not labeled as such, Jaws 2 does contain more than it’s share of supplements, and more than a lot of titles labeled as “Special Edition” discs. The most interesting and abundant supplement is the 40+ minute documentary entitled (aptly enough), The Making of Jaws 2. With interviews with the cast and crew, this tells of the headaches it took to get the movie made as well as following a movie like Jaws. Essentially, it tells you everyhting you wanted to know about the movie and then some. A few featurettes are also included, the first with actor Keith Gordon who played Doug in the movie. It seems, other than Scheider, he was the only one to go onto other films both as a actor and director. Gordon is kind of goofy, but it’s nice to see this supplement included. About the same length as Gordon’s supplement is one focused on John Williams, who composed the score for the movie. Williams is an absolute marvel when it comes to music and I really liked watching this featurette on him…very interesting. Another little outtake entitled “The French Joke” is included, essentially it tells of how the title had to be changed in France to accomidate the translation. I suppose it was funny at the time, but if you like corny humor, then maybe this is up your alley. Also included are four deleted scenes, and while they didn’t add or detract from the movie, it’s nice to have them. Some production photos, cast and crew bios and production notes are also included as well as the usual slew (get it) of Universal extras. On the whole, not a bad disc and certainly worthy of any “Jaws” fan’s collection.