Lorraine Gary - Ellen Brody
Lance Guest - Michael Brody
Mario Van Peebles - Jake
Karen Young - Carla Brody
Michael Caine - Hoagie Newcombe
Judith Barsi - Thea Brody
Lynn Whitfield - Louisa
Mitchell Anderson - Sean Brody
Genre - Horror/Thriller/Bad Animals/Sharks
Running Time - 89 Minutes
Ignoring the events of JAWS 3-D [probably for the best], JAWS: THE REVENGE takes us back to the setting of the first two JAWS movies - Amity Island. Martin Brody [played by Roy Scheider in the first two films] has died of a heart attack. His widow, Ellen (Lorraine Gary) and their son Sean (Mitchell Anderson) still live on the island. Sean has even followed his father's footsteps, as he's now a police officer.
During a night of Christmastime festivities, Sean is called out to the water to move something that's blocking the path of boats. Unfortunately, a great white shark makes a sudden appearance, killing Sean. Ellen is just totally devastated by her youngest son's death, believing that the shark has a vendetta against the Brody family - claiming that the fear of getting killed by a shark is what gave Martin Brody his heart attack. So Ellen does the most logical thing in this situation - heads to the Bahamas with her oldest son Mike (Lance Guest), who happens to be a marine biologist, and his family to spend Christmas on the island.
While Ellen is still disturbed by her paranoia, she's distracted by a pilot named Hoagie (Michael Caine) - a man who she finds an attraction to and vice-versa. As things seem calm, the shark that murdered Sean oddly arrives to the Bahamas to kill off the rest of the Brody family - going after Mike and his partner Jake (Mario Van Peebles). Ellen, at the same time, senses the shark's presence and sees flashbacks of what her husband did to the first shark. Ellen is willing to sacrifice herself in order to protect her family from this vengeful shark.
I have three words for JAWS: THE REVENGE:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
Seriously, JAWS: THE REVENGE has got to be one of the worst sequels to any movie ever. But it comes across worse due to the fact that it's the sequel to one of the most influential and superb films of all time - Steven Spielberg's JAWS. How Steven Spielberg's and Peter Benchley's vision of a great white shark deteriorated into this mess is just amazing. There's so much wrong with this film that you could probably write a 12-page college essay about it.
The biggest issue with JAWS: THE REVENGE, without a doubt, is the story. Let's break it down to see how ridiculous this sequel is...
1. The Shark.
The only thing JAWS: THE REVENGE really gets right is that the shark kills people. But how this shark is presented is just silly and unintentionally funny. For one, it doesn't even try to hide itself as it stalks its prey. Judging by the vantage point of its point of view, this shark must be watching people standing on its tail. Yet, no one sees it until it's too late.
Also, this shark seems hellbent on killing the Brody family. Um...what?? Not only does it kill Sean Brody after stalking him [what a coincidence that Sean was called to the ocean at the right place at the right time], but it even travels to the Bahamas to go after Ellen and Mike Brody! So this shark actually SWAM from Amity Island to the Bahamas - which are probably hundreds of miles apart! Why would any single shark travel this length just to torment a single family? Sharks don't do that! And it roars like a lion! The hell?? If this was a cheesy B-movie, sure. But this is the sequel to JAWS, which took itself seriously. This aspect just feels dumb.
Speaking of THE REVENGE portion of the film, why was this shark wanting revenge on the Brody family? Was it a family member of the first two sharks in the series? Did it watch Martin Brody kill these sharks and it waited YEARS to feed its vengeance? I wish I could answer these questions. But if the film doesn't bother to explain things, then why should I bother to dig deep and find the answers? You'd think the screenwriters would take the time to explain why this film is even called JAWS: THE REVENGE. Epic fail.
2. The Brody Family.
The best thing about the first two JAWS films was Roy Schieder's performance as Martin Brody. Not only was his character well written and sympathetic, but you got to know his family pretty well - even if they put themselves in situations where they usually needed to be rescued by Martin. Martin Brody was the anchor to the first two JAWS films. And it's evident that his lack of presence here hurts the film a great deal.
JAWS: THE REVENGE deals with Martin Brody's absence by telling us that he died of a heart attack - apparently because he was afraid of another shark attacking him. For a man who saved Amity twice from sharks, I find this hard to believe. I would have preferred the original option for his absence - Martin Brody being murdered by the great white during the opening moments of the film. Roy Scheider refused to return to reprise the role, so the change was needed. Still, death by shark probably would have been a fitting end to the character.
Unfortunately, we're left with the rest of the Brody family. And they're not bad characters, in the sense that they're unlikeable people or brain dead. But they do act stupidly in this film for no other reason but to have the story move forward. For one, for people with bad experiences with sharks, they sure love to be around the water where sharks could possibly roam. Instead of moving out of Amity, Ellen and Sean Brody have stuck around - even though they're still haunted by their pasts. Mike moved away, but to the Bahamas, where more of a shark threat is probably at play! Not only that, but Mike is a MARINE BIOLOGIST! Really? And instead of moving to the city after Sean was eaten by a shark, Ellen decides to go with Mike to the Bahamas - even though she believes the shark is after her and her family. Realistic people don't behave this way. It also doesn't help the fact that Mike wants to keep the shark's presence from his mother, not to upset her. Knowing how she feels about the shark, you'd think Mike would want to warn her or something.
And don't get me started on Ellen's 'psychic link' with this very shark. It hurts my head just thinking about the fact that Ellen can sense the shark's presence. She can also see flashbacks that she wasn't around to witness. This aspect of the film was never explained, nor did it go anywhere. It's like the screenwriters just threw shit on the wall and used what stuck. Too bad the shit they used was the literal kind.
3. The Rest of the Characters.
To say we barely get character development out of these supporting characters is an understatement. These characters don't exist to make you care about them in any way. They exist to be potential victims to the shark. And the fact that the shark is barely seen for much of the film forces us to watch these characters interact with each other.
Do I really care about Ellen and the mysterious Hoagie's courtship? No. Do I give a fig about Mike's and Jake's research? Not really. And what is up with Carla Brody's "art", which looks like a mess to me? Yeah, these characters suck.
4. The ending.
JAWS: THE REVENGE has two endings - one that test audiences laughed at, and the one they used for its theatrical release. To be honest with you, neither one is any good. But at least the original ending is somewhat better than the one that was used, only because the original is more coherent. But I can only review the ending that was officially used - and boy, is it a stinker!
How in the FUCK does a shark explode after being harpooned??? While the original ending wasn't all that dramatic or exciting, at least the SHARK DIDN'T EXPLODE!!! Fuck this screenplay and fuck this movie!
The special effects aren't that memorable, except for the fake ass shark. Man, what a job they did on this guy. People talk shit about CGI sharks, but they look more threatening than this shark does. What a serious downgrade from "Bruce" back in 1975.
The direction by Joseph Sargent is just not that good. The man has directed some good films [the original THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE from 1974 comes to mind], but JAWS: THE REVENGE has got to be rock bottom for the guy. Besides the nice looking underwater shots, there's not much to talk about where it concerns the visuals. The use of slow motion is not only unnecessary, but hilarious. Tension? What tension? Sargent's direction is just incredibly bland and lifeless. It's shot like a TV movie, which is the furthest away from Spielberg than you can get. The visuals are boring. That's really all I can say about the direction.
The acting is slightly better, but not good enough to save this film. Lorraine Gary does her best with what she's given, making Ellen Brody somewhat sympathetic. She also displays a lot of emotion, and she's convincing in the role. Too bad she was in a terrible film. Gary deserved better. Lance Guest is okay as Mike. He's not all that memorable really, but he's not terrible. Mario Van Peebles has great charisma, but that Jamaican accent he used was really bad. And Michael Caine just cashed in a paycheck in a nothing role as Gary's love interest. I still love that he hasn't seen the film, but has seen the house the film paid for. That pretty much says it all, doesn't it?
THE FINAL HOWL
JAWS: THE REVENGE is one of the worst sequels ever made. If not for Lorraine Gary's strong performance and the unintentional comedy this film exhibits at times, one probably wouldn't bother with this movie. Terrible script that's so stupid and ridiculous, you can rant on forever about it. The direction is boring and lifeless. And most of the actors phone in their performances. And that ending... just wow. JAWS: THE REVENGE is as plastic as the great white shark that was used.