Many film franchises that begin with a great first outing often deliver sequels of diminishing returns. But few decline quite so rapidly with each edition as the Jaws movies. The 1975 original regularly does well in polls that (rather futilely) try to determine the greatest films ever made. Jaws 2, by contrast, never troubles such lists, but is generally regarded as ‘not a bad follow up’ to a movie that really didn’t need a sequel, and it does have the honour of one of the great taglines in “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”
Jaws 3 is genuinely awful, although did have the novelty of being shown in 3D in cinemas. I’ve only ever seen it in 2D. I can’t imagine that a third dimension would add much to the experience.
However, the franchise was, apparently, capable of sinking to newer depths because 1987’s Jaws the Revenge is arguably one of the worst films ever made.
It’s genuinely inexplicable. The premise is absolutely bonkers.
Essentially, the Brody family (who have been represented in one way or another in all of the preceding movies) are specifically targeted by a shark. A shark who seemingly wants revenge for all the events of the previous movies.
But it isn’t the big fish from the original Jaws, because that shark is killed at the end of that movie. And Jaws 2 also concludes with the death of that movie’s monster. And in Jaws 3, the offending creature is literally exploded into pieces. So this is definitely a new shark.
And to be clear, the main Brody, Martin Brody, is already dead by the time the events of this movie begin. Mostly because Roy Scheider wisely chose not to reprise his role for this abomination. So this shark, a brand new shark, wants revenge for acts that were perpetrated against different sharks, and it wants revenge on people who didn’t perpetrate them, Arguably it might have some genuine grievance against Mike Brody, as he was the character that saw off Jaws 3. Albeit that Mike Brody was played by Dennis Quaid and the Mike Brody that pops up in Jaws the Revenge is played by someone else (Lance Guest anyone?). To be fair, I don’t think we can expect a shark to notice a casting change.
Lorraine Garry who played Ellen, the wife of Martin Brody, in the first two movies does reprise her role in what was to be her final big screen experience, and she must have wondered why she bothered. Goodness knows why the shark was after her, given that she had no active role in dispatching any of its predecessors.
It all makes less than no sense. Everyone seems relieved at the end when this fourth shark is undone, but presuming that we’re all happy to suspend our disbelief and assume that a shark is able to understand concepts such as revenge, is genuinely affronted by the deaths of other sharks, and has the wherewithal to track down individual people, even when they spend most of their time on land and actually travel to a different country during the course of the film, then what is to stop yet more sharks coming after this family? Obviously nothing at all.
Amazingly, a preposterous plot is not the most perplexing aspect of this whole mess. What’s more troubling is that Michael Caine is in it. In fact it was during the making of this movie that he was awarded the first of his two Academy Awards. And he didn’t turn up to collect the award, because he was making Jaws the Revenge.
Which is essentially sticking two fingers up at the entire concept of cinema.
And this from a knight of the realm.
Score for Christmasishness
For no good reason whatsoever, Jaws the Revenge is set at Christmas time. It all feels pretty festive in the opening scenes in New England. Then the action switches to the Bahamas, where it is less noticeable that it’s still Christmas. And actually, the plot would make more sense if a little time had passed, given that Ellen Brody loses her youngest son, Sean, to the shark early on in the movie. But Christmas is still occasionally referenced later in the film, which suggests very little time has actually passed and although the Brody family occasionally pay lip service to mourning for Sean, they generally seem to be a pretty callous bunch who probably deserve the unwanted attentions of a vindictive carnivorous fish.