When Jaws was released in 1975, both the literary and cinematic worlds were set ablaze by Benchley's novel and Spielberg's genius. The phenomenal success of Jaws essentially mandated a sequel. After all, it was the very first "summer blockbuster ",… ever! The prospective success of Jaws2 however, was dubious at best. Spielberg felt that his film was the best that could have been made on the subject and would not helm the second feature. Universal had to do the best it could with what it had and the scuffle for actors, storyline and most importantly a competent Director began. Roy Scheider made it no secret that his involvement was solely contractual. He didn't want to do a second film but was legally bound to film the sequel so he did. His absence from the film's documentary is heavily felt and underscored the tensions that almost sank the shark before the film even began. The end result is a pretty decent film that has moments of greatness but also some sorry aspects as well. The storyline is as follows. In the years since the loss of Quint and the Orca to the White Shark, Brody (Scheider) has remained the Chief of the Amity Police. All has been quiet and Amity has been restored to its peaceful seaside state. When the body of a half eaten Killer Whale shows up on one of Amity's beaches, Chief Brody knows that the terror he once fought and destroyed has now somehow resurfaced. You'd think given their previous experiences with the shark and Brody, the City Council would be more than willing to give Brody all the needed things to make this new shark disappear. Sadly, they aren't quick learners and their response is to fire Brody before he becomes a public nuisance and does away with another summer's profits with is "Giant-Killer-Shark" ravings. Anyway, the Shark is back and he's gnawing on anyone not swift enough to get out of his way. Instead of the Orca with three aboard, it's a sailing junket of horny teens and a very pissed Chief Brody in hot pursuit. Jaws2 is a great and entertaining watch but nothing will ever equal the successes of the first film.
The film's audio is something of a disappointment. The 2-channel mono platform does absolutely nothing for the film's presentation and actually detracts from the overall presence of the movie. The opening strains of John Williams' fabulous score is marred and muddied by the audio's inability to accurately reproduce the higher end of the audio spectrum needed to propel the intensity of the film's score. The end result is a muffled and empty presentation. While the dialogue is always clean and easily understood, there is no depth to the audio whatsoever. The surround usage is non-existent. And the whole of the film's aural information is maintained within the fronts solely.
The video portion of the disc actually fares a great deal better than that of the audio segment. The images are generally very clean. The only moments of muddiness come in the opening moments of Chapter 8. The water so murky it obscures the images even if only momentarily. For the most part the film is very nicely presented in a very clean widescreen anamorphic transfer. Sparkling, it is not however; it's a very good visual presentation. I did not notice any other transfer errors in the print.
The jewel of the extras on this disc came in a 45-minute documentary on the making of the film entitled "The Making of Jaws2". In it there are interviews with Producers, Zanuck and Brown as well as the Director and Screenwriter. In terms of exhaustive data, this documentary covers everything regarding the changes in Director to the ever-present problems with that pesky fish to the stalwart work and character of Murray Hamilton (The Mayor of Amity). It's a very nicely done documentary and the film's content and impetus are wonderfully explained and presented. The one thing missing was an interview with Roy Scheider on his feelings and direction for Brody in J2. However given the understanding that he never wanted to do J2, his absence is more a statement of his feelings than any "put-upon" "press junket" interview could present.
Jaws2: A Portrait by actor Keith Gordon
Roughly 8 minutes in length, Keith recounts his experiences and those of the other teens during the filming of the sequel and all that has happened to his career since then.
John Williams: The music of Jaws2
Here another 8 minute or so interview. This time with the maestro himself, John Williams. His is the "voice" of so many films and here he gives just a bit of information on the role the first film's theme played in the evolution of the score for the second.
The "French" Joke
Publicizing a film internationally can have it's own share of pitfalls. One such pitfall was the case with Jaws 2 in France. Evidently, the original ads featured in France essentially identified the film as "Jaws-The Shit" as opposed to merely Jaws 2. When the French got hold of the advance publicity materials, it became instantly obvious that a new Ad campaign would have to be mounted. After all, who wants their film titled "a return to Ca-Ca"? Unless of course you're John Waters!
There are a trio of deleted scenes that added little or nothing to the film's overall tone. The one that was most interesting was the scene involving the Copter crash in the ocean with the shark attacking the copter and the pilot. Pretty cool!
Storyboards, Shark Facts, Production notes, Cast & Filmmakers bios
All the normal fare. Nothing spectacular.
Quite long and very early 80's in schlock content and over the top. It's in remarkably bad shape and as usual, gives away too much information.
Jaws2. In the shadow of it's older brother, it can't hold a candle. On it's own, it's really not that bad and kinda cool actually. Of the four, these are the only two that are worth anything (IMHO) Just like Superman and Superman II, the rest of the series sucks. If you enjoyed Jaws, you'll enjoy Jaws2. It's full of some really neat camera tricks and the Direction for the film was great. Like most people I'm a big fan of the original and thoroughly enjoyed this entry. Not quite as much fun as the original, but it's great fun all the same. My gripes are with the way in which the disc was produced. The audio platform is pretty poor in its presentation and does not support the film in any way. How a film sounds is absolutely just as important as it looks. There was no mention of an effort to remaster the track for its DVD release within any of the "Bonus" materials. While JAWS received a remastered DD5.1 effort, JAWS2 was essentially left as it was. That in and of itself is a shame. Universal may pleasantly surprise us with an "Ultimate Edition" of JAWS2 but I'm not gonna hold my breath for that one. My gut tells me that we're going to have this film in its current presentation for some time to come.