Jaws and the rule of diminishing sequel returns

18/06/2022

The blockbuster franchise starts out terrifying before becoming confused and mystifying.


by Allen Therisa in Sequel Fever

Dur dur, dur dur, du du du du, etc
Dur dur, dur dur, du du du du, etc

THE PITCH?

One of the most impressive, exciting and influential movies of all time generates possibly one of the weakest franchises in cinema history.

Why?

Because Steven Spielberg was only involved in the first one.

Starts with a shocking and exhilarating mediation on civilised masculinity going head to head against nature with some good old-fashioned blood, guts and gorifying on the side, then turns into teen exploitation as quickly as you can say "Get me a hot blonde in a bikini." The franchise from this point on descends into fatuous gimmickry before finally limping away to a watery grave.

THAT TRANSLATES INTO?

Jaws (1975)

Nothing about this movie is wrong.

The score became a comic punch line, the direction is sharp and immediate, and it created the concept of the blockbuster. Jaws also made loads and loads of lovely, lovely money and put the fear up a generation of teenagers gagging to be terrified. Plus, it also launched (some pretty crappy) games, an iconic movie poster (as well as a T-Shirt), propelled Spielberg into the Very Big Time and changed the way that movies were developed and made thereafter.

And all of this on the back of a disastrous shoot where very little went right.

Go figure.

Jaws 2 (1978)

One of the most infamous disaster movies (as in how it was produced) of all time, Jaws 2 is predictable (even for a sequel), makes little sense (partly due to the, ahem, "creative differences" which permeated its creation), is not frightening at all and just sort of lies there, flapping around, slowing dying before your eyes.

Apart from those slight caveats, the leads are generally enjoyable, most of the time it looks good, the script is snappy enough, and it has a plot. It's just a bit of a bodge, that's all (though it does also have perhaps the most famous tagline in movie history - "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water" - If only the rest of it was as good).

Jaws 3D (1983)

Cynical, tricksy, overblown and silly.

Jaws 3D comes weighed down with a lousy gimmick (it's in 3D!), so expect lots of smudgy colours and knives coming at the screen every two minutes.

Absolute tosh and no fun to be with at all.

And look, is that Dennis Quaid I see, looking embarrassed and trying to stay away from the camera? Well, lower the boats, me hearties, because indeed it is.

Jaws 4: The Revenge (1987)

Like a TV Movie with some quite pleasing Caribbean locations thrown in to keep the audience distracted from the lack of script ("This Time It's Personal", apparently), this made the least amount of money in the franchise and received a hearty thumbs down from the critics.

But director Joseph Sargent should not be too downcast as this is frankly not that bad.

OK, so the whole thing is laughable, the story makes little sense and you can see the mechanics which make the shark move, but at least it has a pulse.

You'll laugh, you may even cry, but you (probably) won't walk out.

THE BEST OF THE LOT IS?

What do you think?

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AND, OH DEAR, THE WORST?

Jaws 2 to 4 are all pretty appalling, but for the sheer lost opportunity, it has to be Jaws 2.

The cast is great, everything in it looks fine (except the shark, of course) and it features the original characters, plus it was riding on the goodwill generated by Jaws.

What could go wrong?

Jaws 2, as it turned out.


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