Jaws: The Revenge
This time... it's personal.
Year of Release: 1987
Running Time: 91 minutes (1:31)
Director: Joseph Sargent
Lorraine Gary ... Ellen Brody
Lance Guest ... Michael Brody
Mario Van Peebles ... Jake
Karen Young ... Carla Brody
Michael Caine ... Hoagie
Judith Barsi ... Thea
Lynn Whitfield ... Louisa
Mitchell Anderson ... Sean Brody
After Deputy Sean Brody is killed by a shark off Amity Island, Ellen Brody joins her other son Michael, a marine biologist, his wife Carla, and their daughter Thea in the Bahamas. There she falls for Hoagie, a carefree pilot, and starts putting her life back together... until a Great White threatens Thea, and Ellen knows she has no choice but to face her fear in a final, fatal showdown.
Jaws: The Revenge, the movie that reminds us that not just anyone can make a movie as good as Jaws III. It really takes a certain breed of film maker to accomplish such a feat, and Joseph Sargent just didn't have it in him. Lets be fair, it's the writers that should be flogged, but still. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't think of anyone who loves this movie, but feel I've chosen a demographic with suitable reason to hate it, more so than most. The sea snails. That's right, they were getting all the attention. They had dopey humans oohing and ahhing at them, it was truly their day in the sun. Metaphorically speaking of course. Do not put snails in the sun. Or salt. Then all the sudden, this 30' monster comes along an turns the place into Menace Beach an the snails are all but forgotten. It was supposed to be their time to shine, but no. It's just like when TV networks get wind of some horrible event and immediately drop their coverage of the little girl in elementary school that found a way to turn water into fuel. Like that's important, for God's sake change the channel, Michael Vick is being allowed to return to the NFL! Sometimes it's just humiliating to be part of the human species. Alright, well Jaws IV treads into some of the murkiest water in cinematic history that the previous three Jaws movies just didn't have the balls to dive into. These depths of wisdom, we will, nay, MUST explore to examine previously undiscovered tidbits of cinematic facts about sharks. Avast mateys, thar be spoilers ahead. The first item you're likely already familiar with, that being, sharks are extremely combustible. But previously, they've only exploded when highly combustible materials were inside their mouths. But we now know that just poking them with a sharp object will likely cause them to explode like Louis Del Grande's head in Scanners. No wonder they're endangered. Puffer fish everywhere, it's dangerous out there in the open ocean. Second, you may well have realized that sharks are highly intelligent creatures that can develop vendettas against particular human beings.
But I'll bet you had no idea that they can do the Vulcan Mind Meld with their would-be victims to figure out what their next move will be. I know, I certainly felt stupid when I found out about this, but it's true. An third, sharks can easily swim over 1000 miles in a day to reach their victim should they desire a change of scenery. That's 42 miles an hour, for those of you keepin' score. They're more persistent than your ex that keeps makin' new Facebook profiles every time you block them, and almost as scary. Important safety tips for those of you who might be inclined to offend a shark's sensibilities. But what I think this movie brings to light, and I may have been the only one to spot this but I'm sure once you let me explain you'll agree, is the existence of the shark mafia. GET YOUR FINGER OFF THAT SCROLL WHEEL. This is serious business, we aren't talkin' 'bout goin' down to the pond to catch bluegills an tommycods. See, what happened is, Roy Scheider kills off the first shark in the original. But this wasn't just any shark. He was the Don Shark's nephew. They call him the MegaloDon. So he calls together a meeting of all the shark families. Everybody shows up, even the sharks from Sydney make it after an extremely long swim. An the MegaloDon makes it clear he wants this Scheider guy dead. His wife, dead. His kids, dead. Their watercraft, dead. Their tourism industry, dead. You're probably laughin' right now. Oh sure, good one. Afterall, it's much more likely this family just happens to be targeted by Great White sharks no matter where they go, and no matter how much they age. Sure. They just have REALLY bad luck, that's all. I was like you once. Naive. Oblivious. Ignorant, even. And that's EXACTLY what the sharks want. Go ahead, offend one. I just wish I could be there to see the look on your face when one gets ahold of you, 'cause when it's all over, you won't even have enough ass left to even sit on to read my reviews.
The movie begins with Mike Brody's obnoxious daughter callin' up Mama (Ellen) Brody to wish her an Sean a merry Christmas an to let 'em know it's 75 degrees down in the Bahamas while they're freezin' their asses off back on Amity Island. Ellen doesn't wanna make a big fuss about Christmas this year, particularly since Papa (Martin) Brody's heart gave out a while back on account of almost gettin' eaten so many times. But Sean thinks he's the boss now an he gives Ellen the "this ain't over" look before he checks in at work. He wants to be just like Papa someday so he works as a deputy at the police station Martin worked at back when these movies had production values, an when he pokes his head in the door Martin's old secretary tells 'im there's a chunk of busted-ass dock hung up on a bouy that, for some reason, is a big problem. So Sean goes to check it out. As if goin' out on the water in the dead of winter wasn't bad enough, there's a children's choir singing Christmas carols out front an they're so bad that all the local dogs are rollin' around on the ground yowling in pain, trying vainly to cover their ears. Once Sean's ears quit bleedin' he's able to get out on his boat an get ahold of the debris, but about that time a gigantic blender with fins jumps outta the water an chomps his arm off at the shoulder. Where's Admiral Ackbar when you need him? This was clearly a setup. Even the kids are in on this thing, cause their singing is so horrible an shrill that nobody can hear Sean screamin' about just how bad it hurts to have a shark bite your arm off an pretty quick the boat capsizes an Sean gets his choice cuts eaten up. So after Ellen identifies what used to be part of Sean's left foot an his kidneys, Mike, Carly (his wife) and Thea (the obnoxious granddaughter) come to see how she's holdin' up. Well she's holdin' up about as well as well as the spare donut tire that came with your 1984 Trans Am that you haven't gotten around to replacing, an she thinks this shark was biding his time, waiting for just the right moment to catch Sean off guard an chew up his belly button. Yeah, she seems alright. She's also pretty sure Mike's next an that if he doesn't take a job in Wyoming he's gonna be stuck to the shark's dental floss an that she's dead certain it was the fear of sharks that killed Martin an not her lousy cooking. So the next day, at the funeral, Ellen keeps flashin' back to all the cute things Sean used to do as a baby. I guess it beats lookin' at his corpse. Who decided this thing should be open casket anyway? This seems highly inappropriate.
Afterwards, Mike invites her to come stay with them in the Bahamas to get her mind off how utterly alone she has suddenly become. She agrees, but mostly just so she can irrationally rant at him about how the tropical Bahamian waters are infested with white sharks an if he leaves her completely alone she's gonna kick his ass. En route, their devil may care pilot, Hoagie, regales them with his anecdotes about how he fought off 1000 pygmy warriors with nothing but a bamboo stalk and a fishing hook until they arrive in the sunburniest place on Earth. Once they get to Mike's place, he gives her the ground tour, concluding with Carla's abstract art sculpture she's been welding on for the big... I dunno, Bahamas day festival, or something. Only all Ellen can see is a gaping maw that wants to chew off her thighs an use her femur as a toothpick. The next day, Mike's down in the Yellow Submarine lookin' at snails with pointy shells while Mario Van Peebles browbeats him about bein' slower than a sloth takin' a shit til Mike has to surface an come right out an ask Mario if he wants it done quick, or if he wants it done right. Mario didn't expect Mike to get all butthurt about it an has to apologize, an then Mario puts Mike in the airplane spin so they can make up an get back to work. You just can't stay mad at a man that gives you the airplane spin. Later that day, the family (as well as Mario an his wife) are opening their Christmas presents when the sappiness of the scene hits Ellen like a truck an she has to leave to avoid puking. Mike comes out to check on her an all she wants is to nag about is how he's gonna have to find a new profession if he loves her. He must not, because shortly afterwards he an Mario are discussing what to do about their depleted research funding. Mike doesn't bother bringing up the likelihood that Mario spent it all on the ganja, but you can tell he's thinking it. Mario thinks they should go work for the feds, but Mike don't like that idea cause they strap bombs to dolphins so they can blow up underwater embassies. Atlantis will never see it coming. At least I think that's where he was going with that. Back on land, Ellen's hangin' out with Thea building sand structures when Hoagie shows up an convinces her to hang out with him in his plane for a while an dump all her psychological baggage on him. He then makes her fly the plane for a while so he can figure out just how to go about bedding her, an so he can regale her with more anecdotes. Like the time he woke up drunk, naked, and married to a dugong. Elsewhere, Mario's discovering why everyting's hotta undah de watah when Sean's Great White assassin swims by an scares the bejezus outta him an makes 'im turn almost as white as Mike.
Mario's real excited though, cause the shark could be their ticket out of this yawn factory. Mike's not really listening though, cause all he can think about is how the shark just passed right by Mario an wanted a piece of him an he's startin' to think maybe Ellen's insanity isn't quite as insane as he thought. He makes Mario promise not to tell his mom, otherwise he could get grounded. So later that evening the entire family goes out to celebrate Mario's wife's birthday, while Hoagie's over at the craps tables losing what's left of his 401K an remaining completely unaffected by it. Then Mike dances with Ellen an tells her to keep an eye on Hoagie cause he don't trust him. She doesn't tell him she's already got her eyes on his backside, but lets him know that she's real sorry about bein' a psychobitch for the last couple days an Mike gets this real guilty look on his face like she just found out he regifted the Christmas present she got him. The next morning, Mario tells Mike he thinks they need to focus on the shark, cause quite frankly, nobody in the theater paid to see them fart around with snails all day. Mike agrees to spend a couple days on the shark, but then it's back to the snails, and realistically, he's lucky to get a deal this good considering he's terrified mom's gonna find out about the shark. Mario could have him scrubbin' the barnacles off his boat for life with the info he's got on him. Later on, Mario has his crew start chummin' the water until Big Hungry shows up an Mario's able to jab some electrodes onto him so they can watch the ECG monitor to make sure he doesn't have a rapid heart beat. But Big Munchie takes off, an to pass the time while they give chase, Mike asks Mario all kinda questions about Hoagie to make sure he's not plannin' the ole hump 'n dump on Ellen. As if that wasn't irritating enough, Rip McGnawington gets out of range an the ECG monitor stops workin' an Mario gets this look on his face like he really needs a joint. Elsewhere, Ellen an Carla have giddy girl talk about what a catch Hoagie is an Ellen needs to know if sex has changed much in the last 25 years cause she's thinkin' about lettin' Hoagie slip her the Foot Long Hero. The next day, Mike's back down lookin' for snails again when the ECG monitor kicks on an from the looks of things Scarf Chowdown's not only headed back their way, he's also got a big time rumblie in his tumblie.
So after Mike finishes wetting his wet suit, he heads for the surface, only Chewy Tearingford shows up an leaves about 94 tooth marks in his submarine while he's inside it an jerks it all around til he's got Shaken Brody Syndrome. Then he has to hide in a nearby sunken ship, but somehow the shark forgets it's about 30' long an swims right inside an Mike has to bust through the hull before he gets chewed up like a Mike Tyson opponent. He's able to get back on board in one piece, but that night his night terrors reach critical mass an he knows he's gonna have to confront the shark, or... well I guess he could just not confront the shark, but then the movie would really start to take it in the ass. So the following morning he an Mario get back to work an Mario has to check on Mike cause he's got the look Jack Nicholson had on his face just before he cracked in The Shining. Mike explains that he's fine, an that like Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness, HE'S THROUGH RUNNING. Elsewhere, Carla's sculpture is being unveiled for the big... I really have no idea. If they explained this at all it was really brief. Anyway, Thea's about as bored as a 5 year old at an art unveiling, so she goes to play with some other kids on the beach while Carla gets up to explain to the crowd just what this metallic monstrosity she's welded together represents so everyone can pretend to understand the artistic process. But about that time Ellen spots the trademark fin sticking up outta the water chasing a boat full of white meat, including Thea. Fortunately for Thea, but unfortunately for the nameless shark chow, Starvin' Marvin pops outta the water an comes away with a prime rib dinner. Ellen is now reconvinced that she was right all along, an if it takes sailing out into the open ocean to get herself killed to prove it to Mike, then that's just what she's gonna do. We'll cut here, just so you all have to watch the movie for yourselves to see whether Mike, Mario an Hoagie can pull her buns outta the fire. Hoagie buns.
Like Jaws III, heavy disappointment (Though I've no idea how it's possible to watch Jaws III and assume that IV is going to be a big improvement) weighs this one down into the depths of ratings Hell. That's not to say it hasn't got problems, it's got plenty. More even than Jaws III has, it's just a shame that people feel the need to rate things as 1, 2, or even ZERO out of 10, in an effort to make their point. Their rating system has no credibility whatsoever. If this is a 2, 1, or a 0, then what exactly do you suppose they'd rate something like The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy? Anybody that'd call this anything below say, a 5/10, really has no clue. I wouldn't rate it even that low, but I can see a reasonable person doing so and not argue it. That said, this is unquestionably the worst in the series. The writing renders it much like all the sharks in the series, dead in the water. This script has more holes in it than the Yellow Submarine after the shark got ahold of it. Most egregious of all, would have to be the ending. Mind the spoilers if you don't want to know. The shark is impaled on a jagged wooden pole, and then spontaneously combusts. What. The. Fuck. The original ending showed the shark being impaled, and simply bleeding out after destroying the ship with it's death throws. Maybe a little anti climactic, but at least it made sense. Apparently this was changed because the realistic (read: boring) ending didn't play well with test audiences. Well, nice work, the explosion certainly went over well. It's really rather insulting, not to mention half assed. As if that wasn't bad enough, after that, Mario Van Peebles' character swims up to the surface after taking a serious torso tearing, TA-DA! I'm fine. While I'll grant that Mario had by far the best character in the movie, if he's going to be dragged down by the shark, he's dead. Period. No do-overs. The only movie I can think of with a more asinine sequence in which a character returns from the dead would be Ken Foree in Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. This is garbage. The entire plot is garbage. The sharks not only have it in for the Brody family, but apparently one got a copy of the script so it would know where to find them. Not to mention that anytime it's around Lorraine Gary's sharkie sense starts tingling. Then there's the fact that it could never get there that quick, and the fact that they cannot live in water that warm. I'm not sure if it's better or worse that they touch on that fact during the movie. They're acknowledging it cannot be, but they do it anyway. Bottom line, the plot is a train wreck. But I don't think that that, on its own, can sink the movie altogether.
As I mentioned a moment ago, the plot's garbage. No, wait. That doesn't do it justice. It's rancid, New Jersey garbage. If it were a human life, you'd hang it for its offenses. The acting, you'd have to call a high spot. If there's any area that this movie improved over part III, it's not just the acting, but the characters. Mario Van Peebles and Michael Caine bring a great deal of amusement to a movie that's in dire need of it. Particularly when it places so much emphasis on the characters. So the acting will give it an overall boost in it's rating. Here is the standard who and why they're interesting, be advised, this is a long one due to all the "additional voices" involved. Lorraine Gary (Jaws, Jaws 2), Lance Guest (Flu Bird Horror, The Last Starfighter, Halloween II), Karen Young (The Orphan Killer), Mitchell Anderson (Deadly Dreams), Melvin Van Peebles (The Shining 1997), Fritzi Jane Courtney (Jaws, Jaws 2), Cyprian Dube (Jaws, Jaws 2), Lee Fierro (Jaws), James Martin Jr. (Terror in the Night), Barbara Alston (Candyman), Tina Lifford (Urban Legends: Bloody Mary), Marilyn Schreffler (Hyper Sapien: People from Another Star, Explorers), Doris Hess (Lifepod), J.D. Hall (Beastmaster: The Eye of Braxus), John Lafayette (Watchers II, Lords of the Deep, The Terror Within, Fright Night Part 2), Charles Bartlett (Ratboy, Just Before Dawn, Meteor), David McCharen (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II), Joanna Lipari (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Laserblast), Terrance Beasor (Demon Hunter, Monster in the Closet, White Dog), Barbara Harris (Halloween 2007), Judi Durand (The Crow), Daaman Krall (Halloween 2007, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 2005), D.W. Kann (Future War). The special effects, you'd have to say are better than Jaws III, for the simple fact that they're not designed to be viewed in 3-D, though they're still not particularly impressive. I'm not sure if the shark itself is the problem, or if they all looked that way and this editor just isn't cutting away quick enough. Maybe both. I can say definitively, that this shark doesn't look near as good as the model used for either of the first two movies. What little gore effects exist are fine, but the shark just isn't cutting it. Not terrible, but disappointing. The shooting locations would be another high point. Bringing back the Amity setting was great, and the cinematography for the sequences in the Bahamas come across really nicely. Not enough to tow this movie's dead ass out of the deep end, but the photography is still very attractive. And lastly the soundtrack. It's very "meh". It doesn't do any damage, but nor does it do much enhancement. I think a big problem that both this, and part III suffer from is using music when the sequence would have more impact without it. The first two movies have several scenes that are extremely effective, because there's no musical cue to alert you that something's about to happen. The soundtrack doesn't do much, in either direction. In the end, like most things, it's bad. But not as bad as people claim.