Is 'Jaws 2' Really That Bad?

All the Jaws films joined the Netflix library in September. It was 1975 when Universal Pictures released the first Jaws. The world had never seen anything like that movie. Jaws became the first film to get box office receipts in the multi-millions its first weekend and went on to be the biggest hit of the year. One of the first films directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie spawned three sequels: Jaws 2, Jaws 3D, and Jaws: The Revenge.

‘Jaws’ was a hit globally

Based on Peter Benchley’s bestseller of the same name, the original film told the story of Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), the chief of police of resort town Amity Island. Discovering the possibility of a shark in the surrounding waters, his efforts to protect the town get blocked by the town council and mayor. Eventually, Brody, a professional shark hunter (Robert Shaw) and a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) hit the waters to hunt the shark that’s killing Amity residents.

Jaws was the first film to make over $100 million in the United States. Globally, it grossed almost a half-billion in receipts. Both were phenomenal events for the 70s and set the precedent for the way movies get marketed to this day.

Not surprisingly, Hollywood needed a sequel. Universal greenlit one and made, at the time, the most expensive film in its history. But Doomrocket says the sequel, Jaws 2, didn’t send the film world over the moon.

‘Jaws 2’ didn’t fare as well as the original

Taking place several years after the first film, Jaws 2 sees Amity Island just about recovering from the first shark attacks. A series of disappearances and deaths strike Brody as too coincidental. He suspects another shark in the waters. His efforts to get the town’s help only see Brody out of a job. He’s on his own investigating the attacks which end in a confrontation where Brody has to save a group of teens, two of them his sons, from an attack.

Jaws 2 did not get the critical reaction that its original did, but it was a commercial success. The movie made history by becoming the highest-grossing sequel of its time and made more in its opening weekend than Jaws. Jaws 2 went on to gross over $200 million worldwide and, domestically, a little over $100 million.

It was generally agreed the sequel wasn’t as good as the original. First, the sequel lost Spielberg and Dreyfuss. Critical players in the first film, both were on the set of Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

It was also agreed the chosen director, Jeannot Szwarc, didn’t have the chops to reproduce Jaws’ gravitas. Critics thought there was too much shark where the original Jaws utilized movie magic to fuel the imagination where the production couldn’t afford to.

The only returning major actor from Jaws was Scheider. He was famously unhappy making the sequel. The studio forced the actor to return due to contractual obligations. And he did not get along with the new director. Critics liked the performances of the primary performers — Scheider, Lorraine Gary, and Murray Hamilton — but found the Brody children and their friends unsympathetic victims.

Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb rate the movie as average or bad.

Is ‘Jaws 2’ Worth a Viewing?

Despite all the grief, the Jaws franchise remains one of the highest-grossing horror series in American horror. It beats out favorites like A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Purge, and Saw. As a part of the Jaws canon, Jaws 2 deserves a viewing. Don’t expect it to be as good as the first film, but it stands above most sequels. Jaws 2 offers enough thrills and visceral punch to challenge any sequel.

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