Of all the killer shark movies ever made (and there have been a LOT of them), Jaws is still the original and far and away the best of the lot. Since the first Jaws made people afraid to go back in the water in 1975, we've been inundated with killer-shark movies – most of them pretty awful, especially the third Jaws sequel, Jaws: The Revenge.
Sequels were not really in vogue back in the mid-1970s – Planet of the Apes was probably the series that kicked off the trend – but because Jaws was such a smash hit, Universal demanded more. And although they all continued to make a lot of money, for audiences there were diminishing returns in quality as the series went on. So here they are, all together in one handy box-set – the only Jaws sequels you will ever want (and one you probably won't!) ...
Jaws 2 (1978)
"I know what a shark looks like cos I've seen one up close. And you'd better do something about this one because I don't intend to go through that hell again."
Once again, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) has to try to convince Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) and the rest of the dumbarse Amity town leaders that there is a killer shark in the waters off the island. And once again, they don't believe him until quite a number of people have been chomped by the great white shark that, yes, is in the waters off the island. With the tagline "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...", Jaws 2 is more of the same but not done quite as well as Steven Spielberg's 1975 original.
It's set a few years after the events of Jaws, and focuses more on the Brody boys and their fellow teens enjoying summertime on Amity Island until the shark turns up and starts picking them off. It does at times feel a bit like a teen slasher movie, and is probably half an hour too long, and once again the mechanical shark looks like a mechanical shark (which is why that clever Mr Spielberg kept the shark hidden for most of the first movie) but Jaws 2 stands up pretty well. It's far and away the best of the three sequels – the reluctant Scheider (he was kinda forced into returning to the role) is again great as Brody, who loses his job thanks to his justified paranoia, and it thrills and terrifies almost as well as the original, although it doesn't manage to generate the same kind of suspense. Plus, the finale is kinda naff...
Jaws 3D (1983)
The early 1980s saw a bit of a 3D revival – it had pretty much died out after a reasonably successful run in the 1950s, now considered a golden age for 3D. The 80s resurgence saw filmmakers very much taking the Comin’ At Ya! approach – this 1981 Italian western was very fond of poking things out at the audience, and the films that followed used the same gimmick. The second sequel to the Spielberg masterpiece follows the Brody boys from the previous films. Mike (Dennis Quaid) now works as an engineer at the SeaWorld marine park in Florida with girlfriend Kay Morgan (Bess Armstrong), the park's senior marine biologist. Mike's younger brother Sean (John Putch) – still scared of going in the water after the events of Jaws 2 – comes for a visit and gets rather friendly with one of the park's water-skiing troupe, Kelly Ann Bukowski (Lea Thompson from back To The Future). Of course, Sean's timing could not be worse because wouldn't you know it, a bloody great white shark turns up to wreak havoc at the park.
Jaws 3D does have some fun with the format, but the effects are very dated now – although this modern 3D conversion is effective. Sadly, the film itself is quite average, which is surprising seeing as Richard Matheson – renowned for his work on The Twilight Zone as well as being the writer of I Am Legend, Duel, The Shrinking Man and Somewhere In Time – had a hand in the script. The dialogue is mostly awful, the performances are rather cheesy all round and the shark even growls at times, but it's still somewhat entertaining (and it made a decent sum of money at the box office on release). The director, Joe Alves, never directed another film, which is not surprising; it's directed competently enough, but none of the scenes stands out ... and did I mention the awful dialogue? The only member of the cast who comes of it with his dignity reasonably intact is Louis Gossett Jr as Seaworld owner Calvin Bouchard. Oh, and Roy Scheider, but he wisely opted to steer clear of the thing. Watch it in 3D for its novelty value alone.
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
Of Jaws: The Revenge, Michael Caine has reportedly said: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific." One has to wonder if Lorraine Gary also made enough to buy a nice house (Caine was supposedly paid $1.5m for just seven days' work in the Bahamas) for returning as Ellen Brody. The film pretends Jaws 3D never happened, so this time around Sean and Mike are played by completely different actors, with Sean now a deputy sheriff in Amity and Mike a marine biologist (Martin is now dead from a heart attack – Ellen thinks he was frieghtened by a shark). Sean is killed by a shark while out in the harbour one night, and Ellen becomes convinced that the shark has a vendetta against her family – even going so far as to follow them to the Bahamas on their Christmas holidays to hunt them down and chomp them.
This is considered by many to be one of the worst movies ever made (it most certainly is) but it is so campily bad it's actually a lot of fun to watch. The main plot device makes no sense, of course, because sharks don't have the intelligence to hold a grudge. The film is incompetent on every level, with massive plot holes (Ellen has flashbacks to events at which she was not even present), inconsistencies, continuity and factual errors (sharks don't actually roar) and a confusing ending. And unlike the first Jaws, Bruce is front and centre in all his glory here, and it's clear to see he is a fake shark, which eliminates any potential tension. Sitting through this film simply makes you want to watch the first Jaws again as a palate cleanser.
EXTRAS: There is a bit of bonus material here, but it's all from the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases of these films... Jaws 2: there are four Deleted Scenes (4:41); the featurette The Making of Jaws 2 (45:22); the featurette Jaws 2: A Portrait by Actor Keith Gordon (8:18); the featurette John Williams: The Music of Jaws 2 (7:12); The "French" Joke (1:18); Storyboards; and two Theatrical Trailers. Jaws 3D: just the Theatrical Trailer and the 3D version of the film (yes, that's treated as an Extra here, with the 2D version of the film being the main feature on the disc). Jaws The Revenge: there's the Alternate Ending (3:42), which makes almost as little sense as the ending on the film; and the Theatrical Trailer.