Principal Cast : Lorraine Gary, Michael Caine, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, Judith Barsi, Karen Young, Lynn Whitfield, Mitchell Anderson, Melvin Van Peebles.
Synopsis: Chief Brody’s widow believes that her family is deliberately being targeted by another shark in search of revenge.
Ladies and gents, prepare yourselves for a deep dive into the abyss of filmmaking folly with Jaws: The Revenge. If you’re wondering how a franchise can go from thrilling to downright ludicrous, this film is your answer. In this scathing review, I’m taking a sledgehammer to every shoddy aspect of this cinematic mess, and by the time we’re done, you’ll be questioning why it was ever made.
So, let’s start with the most ludicrous aspect of this film – its premise. The original Jaws introduced us to the terrorizing presence of a great white shark wreaking havoc upon a seaside community. The sequels, while not masterpieces, at least adhered to this tried-and true formula. But here comes Jaws: The Revenge, boldly breaking the mould by presenting a shark with a score to settle against the Brody family. Yes, you heard it right – a shark on a personal vendetta. It’s so outlandish that it’s practically hilarious. The movie opens with a seemingly immortal great white shark with a laser-like focus on Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary), the widow of the late Chief Martin Brody. According to the script, this vengeful shark is hell-bent on revenge for the demise of its finned brethren. The concept here is so far-fetched that it stretches the limits of credulity. Sharks, as far as marine biology tells us, are not renowned for their grudge-holding abilities or a capacity for complex emotional experiences.
The script for Jaws: The Revenge is a hot mess. From cringe-worthy lines to characters saying things that no sane human would utter, this film serves up dialogue that makes you squirm in your seat. Characters toss around clichés and cheesy one-liners like they’re going out of style. Ellen Brody’s character takes the cake for irrationality. She’s so paranoid about this shark that it’s almost funny. She genuinely thinks the shark has a personal vendetta against her family. I’m sorry, but I can’t suspend disbelief that far. Michael Brody (Lance Guest) and his marine biologist buddy, Jake (Mario Van Peebles), aren’t doing the script any favours either. Their lines sound like a mishmash of clichés and pseudo-scientific jargon. It’s like they’re reading lines from different scripts.
Let’s give some credit for sticking with the Ellen Brody character. But even a talented actor couldn’t save this train wreck of a script. Her portrayal of a widow haunted by a shark’s grudge feels more like a parody of fear and grief than anything relatable. The supporting cast doesn’t fare any better. Mario Van Peebles as Jake delivers an awkward and unconvincing performance. The relationship between Jake and Michael Brody feels forced, adding to the film’s discomfort. Michael Caine’s appearance as Hoagie, a pilot who gets mixed up with the Brody family, is so uninspired that it’s almost impressive. Caine later admitted he took the role for a free vacation, and his performance makes that abundantly clear.
In a film where a shark is supposed to be the star of the show, you’d expect top-notch special effects. But Jaws: The Revenge offers some of the worst shark-related effects ever seen. The animatronic shark, affectionately named “Bruce” by the crew, looks like it belongs in an ’80s Saturday morning cartoon. The underwater scenes are plagued by laughable blue-screen effects that make the characters seem like they’re floating in a poorly made video game. It’s mind-boggling how the filmmakers got this aspect so wrong, especially when they had the technology of the time at their disposal.
This film also can’t seem to make up its mind when it comes to tone. One moment, it’s trying to be a horror flick with shark attacks that are supposed to send chills down your spine. The next, it’s awkwardly shifting into a romantic subplot between Ellen Brody and Hoagie. These wild mood swings not only confuse the audience but also kill any chance of getting emotionally invested in the story. The film’s attempts to build suspense and tension fall flat because the whole premise is so ludicrous. When a movie can’t even decide what genre it wants to be, you know there’s trouble brewing in the production process.
Jaws: The Revenge is chock-full of continuity errors and plot holes that make your head spin. The most glaring one is the shark’s magical ability to travel from Amity Island to the Bahamas in just a few days. Even if you swallow the whole vengeful shark concept, this geographic leap is just impossible for a real great white shark. The film conveniently forgets to address the fact that this particular shark should’ve kicked the bucket a long time ago by the time the events of the movie roll around. You’re expected to buy into the idea that this creature is not only immortal but also as smart as a Mensa member.
One of the best things about the original Jaws film was John Williams’ iconic score, which turned simple notes into a suspense-filled symphony. In Jaws: The Revenge, the absence of Williams’ brilliance is glaring. Instead, we get a forgettable and uninspiring score that does absolutely nothing to lift the film. The lack of a memorable soundtrack only adds to the overall disappointment. One small but equally annoying aspect of the film is its choice of setting. Jaws: The Revenge is set in the Bahamas but pretends to be the Hamptons in New York. It’s an inauthentic move that screams of lazy location scouting. The stunning beauty of the tropical paradise is reduced to mere background filler for a story that doesn’t do justice to its potential for tension and terror. This movie throws in a bunch of subplots that either fizzle out or get wrapped up in a hurry. One of these subplots involves a mysterious conch amulet given to Ellen Brody by a local Bahamian woman, supposedly a symbol of protection. It’s introduced but never explained or used in any meaningful way, leaving you scratching your head.
The ending is just as rushed and unsatisfying. Without giving away too many spoilers, let’s just say it’s one of the most hasty and illogical endings you’ll ever witness. It’s like the filmmakers suddenly realized they’d hit their limit for shark-related absurdity and decided to call it a day. And so, do, have I. This movie sucks. Never see it, even as a form of torture.