“Jaws 2” is what you would describe as the proverbial sequel to Steven Spielberg’s classic, at least that is what you would say today. Appearing to be a survivor, “Jaws 2” appears to have outdone expectations, able to avoid bombing out like an expected sequel to a film such as “Jaws.” Unlike poor sequels such as “S. Darko” and “Ocean’s Twelve” which, alongside many other poor follow-ups, seem to miss the point of writing a new chapter into a story. This side effect of a story is neither a pretentious fumble nor is it a slacking rehash. Instead, “Jaws 2” is a film unbalanced between tones, debating between something dark and mature and teenage melodrama.
Three summers removed from the events of “Jaws,” we reacquaint ourselves with Brody (Roy Scheider) as a man dealing with traumatic stress, He's struggling to persuade anyone to trust him, as if he’s merely shooting blanks and looking for a shark in the midst of his boring tenure as Police chief, as Brody (Roy Scheider) finds himself in a similar spot as last time where he is attempting to persuade the town that the waters are no longer as safe as they used to be.
With a series of events that suggest another large great white, or a Carcharodon carcharias, has returned to the waters of Amity, we know that Brody (Roy Scheider) is telling the truth as we watch the first attack involving two divers discovering the Orca, a mediocre attempt at grasping the viewer's resonance. That opening divers attack keeps it from becoming the thriller it should’ve been, being the critical event that prevents any sense of mystery from manifesting.
It’s a story that isn’t rehashing or snobbishly reenacting a darker tone of a sequel; it actually does both. The story provides us with simple memories like an experienced chief unable to convince a happy go lucky town that something terrifying is lurking in the waters, but it also takes a much darker tone in which Brody (Roy Scheider) is unable to persuade anyone that another horrific attack is taking place. The film never commits to that grim tone though, “Jaws 2” tries to combine an entertaining spectacle in which this group of teenagers is enjoying the sunshine of summer.
Sailing, drinking, and exchanging some rough dialogue like “Did you see the way she was looking at you? She wants you, man.” “No, she wasn’t looking at me...No, I’m thin, I wear glasses. I live in Amity island year round; I’m not good enough for her.” “I guess you're right.” What is this? “Spider-Man 3?”
There is also the excessive amount of anxiety acting like shivering and the memorable scream of “Sh-sh-shrrrrrr-sharrrrr-kkkkkkk” by Ann Dusenberry. Those laugh out loud moments are overrun by Jeannot Szwarc’s handling of make or break moments. He provides the thrill and shrills when they’re necessary, just enough to make sure that the film delivers some sense of terror before the runtime rolls to its final credits.
Where Szwarc stumbles is deciding between the mature and bleak themes surrounding Brody (Roy Scheider) and the teenage melodrama of a group of teens encountering life and death with a monstrous shark. This adolescent excessivity begins to teeter on the brink of “Friday the 13th” level stupidity, but John Williams’ score lends one of the helping hands to those ridiculous moments, providing magical sensations of spectacle during these images of sailing and soaring through the open seas.
Roy Scheider provides the other hand of assistance, delivering the film’s best performance, which in comparison to the fellow performances surrounding him isn't saying much. Lorraine Grey and Murray Hamilton are the other returning faces, both lending some help to the overall believability of this film, but the ensemble of teenagers is surprisingly bad. With an excessive amount of overacting, Mark Gruner being the leader of that un-illustrious group with a fair amount of bad delivery, bad movement, and ridiculous moments worthy of laughter. After watching this performance, it makes sense that this was his last performance as an actor.
“Jaws 2” is a film meddling between tones, never playing a level-headed game of prevalence. The film struggles to become something more than a watchable sequel, but how do you follow up something as spectacular as “Jaws.” It’s not self-imitating nor is it as pompous as something like “Exorcist 3,” but “Jaws 2” remains to be a motivating sequel. One that may inspire nothing more than the desire to rewatch the thrilling spectacle known as "Jaws."