Sunday, 12 February 2012

Jaws: The Revenge

Title: Jaws: The Revenge
Director: Joseph Sargent
Released: 1987
Staring: Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest. Mario Van Peebles, Michael Caine, Karen Young, Judith Barsi, Mitchell Anderson, Roy Scheider

Plot: Ellen Brody (Gary) is still living on Amity, despite her husband Martin (Scheider) being killed from a heart attack brought on by the two sharks he had battled previously. Now living with her son Sean (Anderson) who has since become a deputy sheriff, she is once again forced to face the horror when Sean is killed by a Giant shark. Wanting to take her away from Amity, Michael (Guest) returns from the Bahamas’s, were he has been working as a marine biologist, especially worried that Ellen is now convinced that her family are being targeted by another giant shark. To help her recover from Sean’s death he invites Ellen to come back with him to stay with his wife Carla (Young) and their young daughter Thea (Barsi). However the shark is following them closely behind intent on having its revenge.

Review: Frequently named as being one of the “worst movies of all time”, which is kind of an exaggeration. I mean have these people never seen any of Noel Clarke’s films? Or even “Wrecking Crew” which if I was still rating films here on the blog, it would still be one of the lowest rated films I have reviewed so far, next to “The Human Centipede”. Still it retains it’s 0% rating on rotten tomatoes the complete opposite of the 100% rating held by the classic original.

The plot from the start is completely insane, especially as last time I checked, sharks don’t usually take the death of other sharks that personally, so for one to suddenly develop an understandable grudge against the Brody’s is certainly an interesting take on the term “Creative freedom” as you generally get the idea that director Sargent doesn’t watch a lot of shark documentaries, especially as the shark even roars and while the first three films were hardly factually accurate either, they at least didn’t push things to the same levels of randomness we get here.

Despite being offered a cameo in the film Scheider declined to reprise the sheriff brody, perhaps being down to the fact it would have seen him being eaten by the shark in the opening, a fate which now falls to his son Sean and leaving Ellen to pick up the shark killing mantle, which is an interesting decision, especially seeing how she was more the provider of emotional support, with the shark killing being previous left to her husband and son’s, not that their success in “Jaws 3D” is noted atoll, especially with the film supposedly set in a timeline were those events never even happened, which really is such a minor problem compared to some of the films flaws it’s almost unnoticeable.

Still Gary makes for a surprisingly strong and believable lead for what would be her final role to date and it really sells her paranoia, without feeling the need to overact and it’s a funny turn of events which see her working with Sargent again after they first worked together on the TV movie “The Marcus-Nelson Murders” which Spielberg citing it as the motivation for him casting her originally for the role of Ellen, which of course also had nothing to do with the fact that she was also the wife of the studio’s chief executive at the time.

The main meat of the plot, outside of the crazy shark stalker, it's essentially just a rerun of the plots of the first three films, with the shark showing up and killing off a few disposable cast members, while our leads try to convince the rest of the cast about the shark being there, before the inevitable final showdown and once again the only thing which has changed is the setting as we now get the warmer setting of the Bahamas, which despite Michael stating that Great Whites don’t like the warmer waters, it would certainly seem that this shark doesn’t have too much of a qualm in the change of location either.

What has changed here though is the violence of the Shark Attacks which had always been largely gore free, outside of the occasional detached limb. Here the shark attacks are bloody and visceral, with Sean getting his arm torn off in the first 10 mins, while the few attacks we get are frequently shot in slow motion as the victims writhe in the sharks’ mouth, spraying crimson like a burst water pipe. The strangest thing though is the despatch method for the shark, which depending on which version you are watching differs greatly with the US release having the shark explode, while the European release has the shark impaled on the bow of the boat (something I questioned further in one of my “Random Film Moments” posts) which lack either of the impact of the previous films finale, though the European release does atleast get to show off the sheer size of the shark, while seeming slightly more plausible than the sloppy editing job used for the US death scene.

The Shark effects vary greatly throughout, with the pole moving the shark being clearly visible on more than one occasion and while it’s clearly just a giant rubbery looking shark, it still has more presence than any of the cheap CGI monstrosities currently showing up in creature features, though Sargent never seems to manage to make it as scary as Spielberg did, with the best shocks he can achieve usually being from the jump scares rather than any of the prolonged attacks.

Frustratingly this film also has the lowest body count of the series and while the original “Jaws” might have also have had a low body count, the action between attacks was enough to keep the audience interested, were as here we get a lot of boring interaction as Sargent seems to struggle to find anything interesting for the cast to be doing, leading to him ripping off the dinner table imitation scene between Brody and his son from the original film, while also tacking on a questionable romantic angle between Ellen and the carefree airplane pilot Hoagie (Caine) who would have been a much more clumsy and irritating character had it played by anyone other than Caine, who manages to charm his way through the film, machine gunning off tall tales and bizarre life philosophies, meanwhile the most irritating character award goes to Jake (Van Peebles) who I can’t help but believe that they originally expected to be a much more humorous character than he is, but here Van Peebles is one of the few established actors and as such manages to do a decent job on damage limitation caused by this character, while his father the legendry blaxploitation Melvin Van Peebles puts in a cameo appearance as the local mayor and proving that there really is no limit for what some people will appear in to get a free holiday.

While it might be light years from perfect, there is still something likable about this last official entry in the series which effectively killed the franchise, even though rumours still circulate regarding a prequel “Jaws: Deadly Seas” telling the story of Quinn on the USS Indianapolis and we also still have “Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws” courtesy of the Italian Maestro of the cash in Bruno Mattei (the same man who also gave the world his own take on “Terminator 2”) aswell as more recently “Jaws In Japan”. Still the meantime we still can get our giant shark fix with Steve Alten’s “Meg” series the first book of which still remains stuck in development hell, despite frequent positive articles regarding the production moving forward, but currently outside of the barmy giant creature antics of the “The Asylum” it could still help bring the creature feature back to the mainstream were it is still sorely missed.


  1. Totally non sensical film, I mean, all other sharks in previous movies died, so this one is trying to get revenge for them? This means we have to swallow the idea that this particular shark is related to those others that died and is seeking to avenge their deaths?? Puh-Lease!

    Hows about the idea of sharks roaring like dinasours? I watch this one only when I want to laugh, same as part three.

  2. I know it's almost as daft as the ending of the original "Jaws" novel, which still has me confused as to how it dies. Apparantly my idea that it dies of old age is just as nonsensical as this film.

    I can't but feel that if they hadn't written themselves into a corner, by having the shark on a revenge mission, it would have allowed a higher body count and intern improve the film, as nothing improves a mediocre movie like a decent bodycount :)

    In regards to Part 3 I would put this one above that, as apart from seeing what a shark looks like on the inside, it was pretty unspectacular.

    Still if "Meg" is done well, it will unquestionably be epic, for anyone who has read the book will tell you, it reads like what you'd expect the "Jaws" novel to be like, especially if you saw the film first, it came as a real surprise to find it completely different, especially as it's more a book about people than about a killer shark which is essentially more of background character, but worth a read if only to see the surprise differences between the film and book.


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