Jaws: The Revenge Movie Review
Written by ZigZag
A Universal Pictures Production
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Written by Michael De Guzman
1987, 90 minutes, Rated PG-13
Premiered on July 17th, 1987
Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody
Michael Caine as Hoagie
Lance Guest as Michael
Mario van Peebles as Jake
Christmas is coming and the friendly community of Amity couldn’t be merrier. All of the holiday preparations are underway, and the choir practices carols as lights and decorations are set in place. On this dark and snowy night, Deputy Sean Brody (Mitchell Anderson) is called out to the harbor on a routine complaint where he is summarily eaten by a shark. His mother Ellen (Lorraine Gary) is devastated, as she believes it is the same shark that killed her husband (although it was likely a bullshit script that kept Roy Scheider from returning).
Ellen’s elder son, Michael (Lance Guest) invites her to join him and his family in the Bahamas for the holiday. She agrees and is immediately being flown by a loveable rascal named Hoagie (Michael Caine) to a relaxing paradise that will soon be haunted by an unlikely tag-along. Michael Brody is a marine biologist studying conch life with his partner Jake (Mario van Peebles). The two spot the shark but decide it is best to keep secrets from everyone until after Christmas. Before too long the shark is menacing the locals and threatens Ellen’s granddaughter (Judith Barsi).
Ellen is certain above all else that the shark is chasing her family for revenge, although this raises the questions of who, how and why? Years ago, her husband killed two sharks that threatened the community, later her son Michael killed a shark (in 3D) that was attacking Sea World (this entire chapter is ignored here) and now her younger son is the latest victim. Three dead sharks and a son do not equal an ichthyologic conspiracy, but the casting of the studio executive’s wife in the lead of this embarrassingly unnecessary sequel is a bit fishy.
So, a random member of the shark community has taken offense and managed to travel down the Eastern seaboard in time to ruin the Brody family Christmas. Ellen refuses to stand for this and steals a boat in order to sacrifice herself to end the family curse once and for all. This choice is curious, but equally confusing is the idea that Hoagie, the pilot with a heart of gold, is willing to crash his plane into the water so that her son can swim to her rescue.
Luckily, Hoagie is a bit magical and in a bizarre turn of events manages to survive the attack of the shark and casually swims to Ellen’s boat where he climbs from the water wearing completely dry clothing. Sadly, this is not the last bit of magical mischief as Jake is soon eaten by the shark and faster than you can say “magical negro” he is seen bobbing in the water with minor injuries and cracking jokes.
The action comes to a heated climax as the rubber-faced shark challenges the leather-faced grandmother to a round of flashbacks that involve events neither was present for, as footage from the original Jaws finale is played out to the inept cluster-fuck that features a shark standing on its tail and growling like a mammal while being stabbed with the front of a boat that naturally makes the shark explode.
Joseph Sargent (The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3) drew the short straw and was assigned the task of directing this woefully inept TV movie of the week, before being banished back to the world of directing TV movies of the week. There is little in the way of style or substance on display as characters sleepwalk from one scenario to the next. The final battle is so poorly shot that even with repeat viewings it is difficult to explain.
Repeat viewings will reveal the shocking amount of material lifted from the original Jaws, inserted with quick edits among shots of the less convincing action of the current picture. Alternate footage prevails throughout television airings, and even the DVD ends differently than the theatrical release, but all versions are equally disappointing.
Lorraine Gary (1941) is determined not to appear embarrassed, and does a pretty solid job at fleshing out a character that was relevant in the original, but steadily erased over the following sequels. She displays the full range of emotions from angry to distraught and manages to throw in some creepy geriatric dance moves along the way.
The supporting cast makes the most of the material, but Michael De Guzman’s script isn’t granting any favors. Lance Guest (The Last Starfighter) plays it straight even after being pursued through a sunken vessel by what appears to be a man in a shark suit. Mario van Peebles (New Jack City) has the thankless role of comic relief and while sporting an accent that is only slightly more realistic than the rubber shark that will not stay off camera. Indeed, the goofy-looking shark appears more in this movie than any other in the franchise, yet manages to rack up the smallest body count.
Michael Caine was prevented from collecting his Academy Award (Hannah & Her Sisters) because he was working on Jaws IV: This Time… It’s Again. He manages to chew more scenery than the shark as this role draws the actor closer to his lowest cinematic moment, battling an infamous Steven Seagal in On Deadly Ground. Years later, Caine has bounced back to the world of quality material that will hopefully erase these memories.
Greed seems to be the driving force behind this picture, and with any luck fortune eluded those responsible for this travesty that killed the franchise. The shark that ate Christmas is as hollow as the motives for bringing it back to the big screen. This film is entertaining for all the wrong reasons and brings more laughter than terror and earns an extra half star for it. Had Jaws: The Revenge been made today, it would easily be a straight-to-video disappointment.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded.
Day four of ZigZag's "12 Days of Christmas".
Day 2: To All a Good Night
Day 4: Jaws: The Revenge
Day 5: Christmas Evil
Day 7: Santa Claws
Day 9: Elves
Day 10: Dead End
Day 11: Santa's Slay
Day 12: Black Christmas (1974)
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