JAWS: The Revenge
JAWS: The Revenge
Released: July 17th, 1987
Intro: Here we are, the final film in the JAWS series, and also what is one of the most hated entries as well. In fact, many fans like to pretend this movie never even happened. It is difficult to find much good to say about it, but I will try my best. What it does have going for it is the return to Amity, and a return of Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody. Everything else, however, falls apart quickly.
Story: First and foremost, this movie completely retcons JAWS 3-D, acting as if the film never happened. The basic story of JAWS: The Revenge is that a killer great white gave Chief Brody from the first two films an anxiety-driven heart attack, and then attacks and kills younger Brody son, Sean. Ellen is convinced the shark is out to finish off the Brody family, now only herself and her older son Mike. She flees to Bahamas for a respite, but the entire time she is threatened with visions of a shark preying on her loved ones.
Unfortunately her visions do turn out to be real, as there is in fact a great white in the area, and Ellen is convinced that the same shark from Amity has followed her to finish the job. Yes, she truly seems to be under the impression that a shark has followed her from New England to the Bahamas. Yes, the absurdity of this is indeed pointed out to her, but she ignores it.
Mike has married and had a baby, and while his profession is still marine related, it is research based as opposed to construction based. It is when the shark attacks a banana-boat his daughter is on that sends Ellen over the edge, prompting her to take a boat out on a mission to kill the fish.
Mike and his coworker/friend Jake seek to follow her, but lacking another boat they ask Ellen’s love interest, played by Michael Caine, to fly them out to her location. He agrees and despite the fact he is not in a sea plane, they venture out.
Ellen, on the other hand, is dead set on finding the shark, but what she plans to do when she finds it is a mystery. She seems to have no real plan, nor is she armed with more than a speargun. When she finally comes across the animal, it bodychecks the boat and sends her sprawling to the deck. She is clearly out of her element.
Her three heroes find her and make a very crazy landing in the water. They reach the boat and after giving her a short chastising, turn to science to figure out how to deal with the shark. Utilizing a machine that sends out special sounds and vibrations that disrupt the shark’s senses, they lure the beast out. It attacks, nearly killing Jake, but eventually Ellen steers the boat’s now broken bowsprit into the leaping fish, causing it to explode midair and tossing them all off of the boat.
Yes, that really happened in this movie. While I am willing to suspend belief to an extent based on the established movie universe, I just can’t force myself to ignore the fact that sharks cannot jump several feet into the air, they do not roar, and impaling them on a large spike of wood does not cause them to explode. I’ll excuse Ellen’s belief that the shark is following her because I can attribute that insanity to extreme grief of a widow who has lost one of her sons. I can’t excuse the rest. What really makes the way she kills the shark all the more crazy is that superimposed over her look of determination is Chief Brody’s famous “you son of a-“ scene from the first film; a scene that Ellen did not witness and most likely did not get enough of a description to picture it in her head.
The plot is simply ridiculous on all levels and ends the JAWS series on the lowest of low notes. Like most fans, I prefer to believe that JAWS is actually a trilogy that ended after JAWS 3-D.
Characters: We only briefly see Sean Brody, working as a police chief just like his father. At least in JAWS 3-D he had a fear of the water attributed to the trauma that took place in the second film, but in this one he seems perfectly at ease on the water. Maybe he worked through it.
Ellen Brody is the main character and probably one of the most frustrating in the whole movie. I get that she’s a grieving widow and mother who just lost one of her sons, but the fact that she lets herself believe a shark follows her from the northeast all the way down to the southern hemisphere just speaks volumes about her sanity, or lack thereof. What makes it so annoying is that she is told over and over again how impossible that is and how absurd the very idea is but she presses on and on about it. It’s when she decides to steal a boat to go hunt down the shark that I just can’t with her anymore, because what did she really think she was going to accomplish out there?
Our secondary protagonist would be Mike Brody, who is completely different from his 3-D version. I actually do like this version of Mike; he’s moved on from past traumas and even has gone on to be a marine biologist, he has married and has a daughter. He has a life and has his head on straight, unlike his mother. He does soon realize there is a threat in the water, but he never entertains the idea of a stalker shark. I would say this one is actually a plus.
Michael Caine as Ellen’s love interest, Hoagy, and he is likable enough. I do like how he is a gentleman and doesn’t try to take advantage of Ellen’s fragile state.
The supporting characters of Mike’s family and his friend/co-worker Jake and his family are believable, but nothing stands out as special. I do find that this group is a bit easier to enjoy than the supporting cast of 3-D, but only because of the family aspect.
Am I surprised that both Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss refused to have any involvement at all? Not at all. I think they could sense a flatliner and avoided it like the plague. I have no idea what possessed Lorraine Gary to reprise her role as Ellen Brody, but I am sure she had her reasons.
Visuals: As far as locations go, the scenery is indeed beautiful. Clear water, lush trees, sandy beaches. It definitely looks like the Bahamas and is easily the best of the visuals for the film.
Again, the shark looks fake, but that has always been part of the charm of JAWS. What really gets under my skin is how poorly the entire visual display for the climax of the film is. I can’t say it enough times – jumping sharks that roar and explode are not okay. It’s as if the production did no research at all about the lifestyle of sharks and just went with something that looked cool. But it didn’t even look cool. The explosion was awful, and the fact that it sent the human characters sprawling into the water is laughable. Trivia – this was the second ending shot; a different one was used for the theatrical release that was even worse. I looked it up on YouTube and it made me think of Claymation. It is obvious that by this point, production had given up.
Sound: There is nothing particularly memorable about the score for the film except that there are appropriate tracks for festivals and the beach scenes. Nothing stood out as well as the tracks in JAWS 3-D.
Sound effects-wise all I can say is: sharks do not roar.
Overall: I really wish I could find some positives for this film as it is part of one of my favorite franchises out there. I am thankful, however, that they did not use the original script, which relied heavily on voodoo and magic to make the shark follow her due to a feud with the Brody family. Part of me is curious how they would have approached that as apparently it is included in the novelization, including scenes from the shark’s POV. This movie isn’t a ‘so bad it’s good’ film, it’s just a really lame movie all around. While JAWS 3-D was fun to poke fun at sometimes, it was still an enjoyable experience compared to The Revenge.