Jaws 2 (1978)

(Netflix Streaming, April 2017) It would be easy to be too hard on Jaws 2 for not being as good as its predecessor. But given that the predecessor was one of the most famous movies of its era, helmed by a young and hungry Steven Spileberg, it’s not a dishonor to say that Jaws 2 is merely a competent blockbuster film. It doesn’t mess with the formula set by the first movie, what with its sadistic shark steadily cranking up the death count, and a third act largely set on water. There’s a nearly-interesting bit about Roy Scheider’s character being driven mad by the same situation happening all over again, but that’s largely avoided in the last third of the film. Less interesting is the film’s insistence on featuring teenage characters as protagonists and shark chum—part of the first film’s appeal was its adult nature, and targeting it to teenagers does smack of commercialism. Even as a step down, though, Jaws 2 holds up decently today. Cut away some of the dumbest, most overdone sequences (including the final shark fry, but also the shark-versus-helicopter moment) and it’s still a reasonably good blockbuster film. Ultimately, though, it avoid greatness, and that’s part of the game in coming up with a sequel.

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