Review of Jaws Franchise

 

It started with the book by Peter Benchley.  Some parts were left out of the movie, Jaws. Some parts were left in it.  The script had rewrites and changes were sometimes done the day before shooting.  The mechanical great white sharks were referred to as “the great white turd” and “flaws.”  There were many production issues from rising costs, script changes, and finding actors.  While it was touted to be a summer blockbuster, Steven Spielberg had his doubts, and never showed up on the last day of filming.  And yet, this was one pivotal moment of his career as a director, where he progressed to show audiences his directorial talents over the last fifty some years.  Put in another way, the man has mad skills.

As with most movies in a franchise, they tend to get worse, in terms of overall quality the longer they continue.  The quality of the stories usually suffer as original content has already been used in the first movie.  In this particular case, how many times can you make a predatory shark a good story?  If you haven’t seen the last two movies in the franchise, they are still worthy to watch if you like movies so bad that they turn out to be so good.  What kind of an oxymoron is that?  Yet, it still exists, especially in Hollywood.

After the success of Jaws, Benchley said he would never have written the book the way he originally conceived it had he known what he knows today.  Despite inspiring terror and fear of sharks, he did his atonement via his lifelong shark conservation efforts and education.  This majestic creature existed alongside dinosaurs, though evolution definitely took place where the shark is much smaller today, it is an achievement in itself.

In the order of least to best liked, I begin with Jaws: The Revenge and will continue until all four movies are reviewed.  I apologize because there will be spoilers in these reviews.  My guess is if you haven’t seen any of the Jaws movies, you probably won’t see them, unless I persuade you.  Weirder things have happened.

Let’s Break this Shark Apart

#4 Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

You Start at the Caudal Fin

The fourth movie in this franchise.  WOW!  Where to begin?  From the start!

It must be assumed this shark is a relative of the other sharks destroyed in the previous movies.  It should also be assumed communication among the sharks occurred, passing on their revengeful desire to kill.  Because why else would a shark that killed Mrs. Brody’s younger son swim from the Atlantic Ocean to the Bahamas?  It’s pretty obvious the sole reason was to kill her entire family.  This shark seems a lot smarter than the other sharks.  It seemed more aware of its surrounding, and you can’t beat a shark that roars like a big cat when hurt.

Details and Players

Jaws: The Revenge was written by Michael De Guzman.  It was directed by Joseph Sargent.  It starred Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, and Michael Caine.  The budget was around 23 million and grossed almost 21 million in the USA.  The movie is 89 minutes long and released in July 1987. 

About Jaws: The Revenge

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Jaws: The Revenge focuses on Ellen Brody and the remaining Brody family.  After her younger son, Sean, is killed days before Christmas, she decides to get away from dark, cold waters to more warmer waters of the Bahamas.  This is where her older son, Mike, lives with his family.  She is able to slowly heal from the death of her son, but there are reminders whenever she goes.  She has an active imagination, believing the shark that killed her son is always lurking in the water depths.  Bottom line, she suffered from PTSD with huge tendencies of obsession.  Just when she thought things were returning to a semi-normal state, the shark appears, putting her granddaughter in danger. 

The fight begins between the shark and herself, but not before she shows her anger over Mike not telling her of his knowledge about the shark.  There is now friction between mother and son.  She continues to get reminders of the shark with the sculpture her daughter-in-law created.  It looks like a shark’s jawline.  The shark ramps up its efforts at annihilating the Brody family as the turmoil continues among the Brody family and friends.  They manage to put their differences and pride aside and fight for survival.

The ending involves explosives, as the other movies previous.  Some of the better scenes were between Mario Van Pebbles as Jake and Lance Guest as Mike.  There’s a friendly competition between them.  The most awkward scene was by Lorraine Gray as Ellen as she danced her way to convincing herself she was okay during a parade.  People go back to what is comfortable for them, especially when their nemesis is gone, which is what Ellen did when she flew back to Amity Island. 

Minor Observations

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There’s a phrase people use for dialogue that doesn’t sound natural and has no subtext.  It’s referred to as ‘on the nose.’  This movie is on the nose.  There’s not too much subtly to it.  Then again, this isn’t the type of movie that needs it.  I wonder what Ellen Brody was going to do without any weapon.  Even if she had one, I don’t think it would have improved its status.   The same goes for Roy Scheider had he accepted a cameo role.  The movie sank in the box office like the helicopter the shark manages to render useless.  It was nominated for seven Razzie Awards and won one for Worst Visual Effects.

Pisaries Creator Score is 61%

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#3 Jaws: 3-D (1983)

You Move to the Dorsal Fin

The third movie in this franchise.   We are inching into again another movie that is bad it is good.  It is a little better than the fourth installment, but not by much. The Brody’s are well into living the life of a curse.   The shark is smart in this movie too because it seems to know Mike works at SeaWorld Orlando.  The sharks must have been communicating with each other again.

Details and Players

Jaws 3-D was written by Richard Matheson and Carl Gottlieb.  It was directed by Joe Alves.  It starred Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Lea Thompson, and Louis Gossett, Jr.  The budget was around 20 million and grossed around 45 million in the USA.  The movie is 99 minutes long and released in July 1983.

About Jaws: 3-D

jaws3D

Jaws 3-D centers on Brody’s children: Mike and Sean.  Mike is now a park engineer at SeaWorld, and in a relationship with a marine biologist called Kay.  Together they work to maintain order in the park and keep the manager of the park happy.   The park has plans to open an exhibit called, Undersea Kingdom.  When a Great White of small size is found in park waters, the bright idea is to use it as publicity.   It isn’t looking good for this shark.  The two choices it has is being killed on live television or captured and held in captivity.  They agree on the lesser evil.  Kay believes it will be a great moneymaker.  The problem is the shark dies because it isn’t suited to living in captivity. 

Things start to further disintegrate in the park and between Mike and Kay.  Sean comes out of his shell and overcomes his fear of water, thanks to Kelly Ann Bukowski and beer.  He finds himself swimming in dark waters with her, oblivious a park worker recently died.   He continues to have a good time with Kelly.  I will say the opening sequence was decently filmed.  You never know what’s lurking beneath, as they say. 

Things are starting to make sense to Mike and Kay when the body of the park worker is seen floating near the top of the exhibit.  The mama shark is ever closer and wanting revenge for the death of her baby.  It comes full speed ahead and smashes enough things with her head and body to create flooding in the tunnels.  This whole scene was ripe with bad dialogue.  Mike and Kay come to the rescue.  They water level goes down.  The patrons survive and scurry out of the tunnels like rats.  

Bouchard, park manager, and FitzRoyce, man who wanted to kill the shark on live television, do their part to stop the 35 foot shark.  She becomes caught in the filtration pipe and is blown to shreds with a grenade.  How FitzRoyce managed to stay in the sharks mouth is impressive, but he served his purpose.  If someone was going to die at the end, he was the likely candidate.   A shout out goes to Cindy and Sandy, the dolphins, because without them the movie wouldn’t have ended on a happy note for Mike and Kay.  He decides to move away with her to pursue another job interest.  End of movie.

Minor Observations

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This has to be my least favorite out of the four.  Why didn’t I put it before Jaws: Revenge?  The primary reason was not movie related, but because of the SeaWorld location.  There wasn’t social media back in the day.  The Cove and Blackfish hadn’t been filmed yet.  There wasn’t as much pressure on SeaWorld to end their whale shows.  On a purely technical level, it’s like Jaws is suspended in water.  On a purely acting level, I like how Louis Gossett, Jr. played an out of touch manager.  He clearly understood some parts, but others he had no clue.  It is what made him real, even though this can lead to tragedy and death.  It was nominated for five Razzie Awards including Gossett’s performance.

Pisaries Creator Score is 63%

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#2 Jaws 2 (1978)

You Move to the Pectoral Fin

The second movie in the franchise.  The tide has turned for the better.  We are into territory where it is translating less bad movie is good to good movie is good.  It is better than the last two in the franchise, partly because Roy Scheider as Martin Brody and Murray Hamilton as Mayor Vaughn.  The Brody’s had some reprieve for a while, but the time has come for some bloodletting.  The Great White seems to have everyone fooled until more people die in this movie.  It’s like a sheep in wool’s clothing.

Details and Players

Jaws 2 was written by Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler.  It was directed by Jeannot Szwarc.  It starred Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, and Murray Hamilton. The budget was around 20 million and grossed almost 103 million in the USA.  The movie is 116 minutes long and released in June 1983.

About Jaws 2

jaws2

Jaws 2 begins with the disappearances of beachgoers on Amity Island.  Martin Brody is still the Police Chief and ever vigilant of keeping the beaches safe.  The mayor is as stubborn as in the first movie.  He is not swayed with Brody’s overactive imagination, even though he was proved wrong before.  It isn’t until he sees the developed pictures from the diver who was killed that Brody’s convinced there’s another Great White.  The damage has been done.  He is fired, on the spot, by the town.  The mayor nor the council look kindly on firing a gun at a beach.  Even through his drunken pity party, his wife stands by him.

Brody finds himself being bored to tears without a job.  He does things to pass the time by.  It doesn’t work.  He goes into town with his wife, Ellen, and discovers their older son has snuck out with his friends.   Mike went to look cool in front of the girl he likes and Sean went to be like his older brother.  Their parents go into rescue mode, and persuade the new Police Chief to accompany them on a fast paced boat ride.  When they arrive at the destination, the only person there is a girl who is in a catatonic state, until she screams, “SHARK!”  Mrs. Brody brings the frightened teenager, Lisa, back to shore. 

You know what Former Chief Brody is going to do, but in case you don’t know, I’ll tell you.  He arrives to the remaining party to find boats turned over.  The kids cheer much too soon.  Don’t they know anything?  Just because the rescue helicopter arrives, doesn’t mean it will fulfill its mission.  It is dragged into the water by the shark.  One of Mike’s friends sacrifices herself to save his younger brother.  The ever protective father has a touching moment with Mike and sends his sons to safety.  He isn’t going to risk their lives.  This fight is between him and the shark.

Good thing there’s an island nearby that has an electrical station.  Before the shark can kill anymore teenagers, Brody catches its attention through hitting the power lines.  It swims toward him with mouth wide open.  Instead of biting into human flesh, it is electrocuted.  What comes up also goes down as the shark falls deeper into the water.     Brody waits to be rescued with his sons and their friends.  He can now say he’s responsible for killing two sharks.  Vindication, at last, sort of.

Minor Observations

jaws2

This movie doesn’t outshine the original, but I like this second installment in that it felt  most like a horror movie.  It might have had to do with many of the scenes involving teenagers.  Yes, the Brody parents were there, but this mainly was a monster terrorizing a bunch of teenagers without any kind of method to protect themselves.  I have an easier time believing teenagers not bringing a weapon because they only wanted to have fun.  This would be the last Jaws movie Roy Scheider would take part in.  The movie sailed partially into the sunset concerning revenue.  It wasn’t nominated or win any awards. Good to stay under the radar, I guess.

Pisaries Creator Score is 78%

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#1 Jaws (1975)

You End at the Snout

The first movie in this franchise.  YES!  End at the beginning.

If this movie only existed, it would probably be for the better.  As I noted above, the scripts became more outlandish with each shark arrival and demise.  This shark was definitely a different kind.  It seemed to hold onto grudges like some people hold onto rage.  It had a lot force behind its bite.  It’s pretty obvious the shark was the main antagonist to Brody, whereas Quint was the main protagonist to Hooper.  Despite of all the mechanical issues of the Great White Turd, it remains a selection in the United States National Film Registry.

Details and Players

Jaws was written by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb. It was directed by Steven Spielberg.  It starred Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. The budget was around 8 million and grossed about 260 million in the USA. The movie is 124 minutes long and released in June 1975.

About Jaws

jaws

Jaws starts with a beach party taking place.  Chrissie decides to go swimming with her boyfriend who is having major trouble taking off his pants he’s so drunk.  She dives into the water by herself, and soon is killed.  Her body turns up the next day, forcing Chief Martin Brody to make a difficult decision.  He decides against closing the beaches as it will hurt the town’s economy.   He should’ve listened to what his gut told him.  More deaths occur from the elusive Great White.  It is when he feels the sting of a mother’s hand on his face that he propels himself into action.  You get the sense he does this half out of guilt and the other half fear. 

After meeting Matt Hooper, played convincingly by Richard Dreyfuss, do they try to influence the mayor to close the beaches.  He still doesn’t agree, and isn’t keen on the shark hunt taking place after a bounty is placed on the killer.  It sends boats of all kinds onto the water.  One of them holds Brody, Hooper, and Quint.  These are hands down some of the best scenes.  It can get really boring on a boat when the shark isn’t present.  What did a Police Chief say to the marine biologist and shark hunter?   It is here they realize the enormity of the situation.  The scenes only get better when all is quiet until a shark rams your boat. 

The next day the Great White comes back for more.  Quint hardly contains his excitement of the possibility of winning the bounty.  Hooper wants to get as many pictures as possible to look at later.  Brody just wants to go home and close this chapter of his life.  Things are looking up for them, but just when they were sort of getting along, one of them has to die.  Quint’s death was epic.  Great scene.  That’s what he gets for smashing the radio.

It is now up to Brody and Hooper to save the people and their beach.  How will they do it as the boat, Orca, is sinking?  Fast, very fast.  Plan A fails.  Plan B can’t fail or else Amity Island will be scarred forever.  Through all the adrenaline rush, Brody gathers his wits, shoves a scuba tank in its mouth, and shoots it.  The tank explodes inside the shark.  Bits of it fly everywhere as Hooper congratulates Brody on his victory, and they swim off their merry way.

Minor Observations

jaws.jpg

Many low-budget, often struggling productions, sometimes do very well in the box office.  This is no exception.  Things have a way of working out, as the saying goes.  It also could have gone the other way, but it didn’t.  Jaws was nominated for four Academy Awards and won three for Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score.  Now, please, pass me the popcorn.

Pisaries Creator Score is 99%

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Personal Conclusion

I’ve been fascinated with sharks since high school.  It’s been one of my bucket list items to swim with sharks.  I haven’t done it yet, and it might never happen, but one can dream.  Great whites are thought of as an apex predator although smaller ones find themselves as prey for Orca Whales.  They swim at the top of the food chain along with the hammerhead, blue, tiger, and mako shark.  There are over 500 species, and range from small to extra-large.  The dwarf lanternshark is the smallest and the whale shark is the biggest, although the whale shark is a filter feeder.  In conclusion as Halloween approaches, remember not all sharks are bad and not all shark movies are good.

Last and Definitely Last

Now that I’m done with the reviews, here are some facts when you stack them up with other things that might kill you.  The information is from National Geographic Wild. 

sharkwoman

In 1996!!!!!!!!  (A little outdated, but you get the point.)

Toilets, room fresheners, buckets and pails injured more people than sharks.
Toilets injured 43,000 Americans.
Buckets and pails injured almost 11,000 Americans.
Room fresheners injured 2,600 Americans.
Sharks injured 13 Americans.

buckets
A person has a 1 in 63 chance of dying from the flu during his or her lifetime.
A person has a 1 in 218 chance of dying from a fall in his or her lifetime.
A person has a 1 in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark during his or her lifetime.

sharkparts
The United States averages 19 shark attacks each year and one shark-attack fatality every two years.
Meanwhile, in the coastal U.S. states alone, lightning strikes and kills more than 37 people each year.

sharkfin
For every human killed by a shark, humans kill approximately two million sharks.

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