Almost no franchise has had the complete collapse in quality like the Jaws films. Starting with a Steven Spielberg directed masterpiece in tension, thrills and blood-curdling terror we come to its final death rattle in the bizarre and preposterous Jaws: The Revenge. Chronologically following Jaws 3, Jaws: The Revenge chooses to ignore the action of its third installment (understandably), recasts the Brody children (again) and removes the in-your-face 3D. It proved to be the end of the series after diminishing box office returns.
The Brody family of Amity Island, who have recently lost Chief Brody who died “of fear of the shark” suffer more tragedy as Sean Brody is eaten by a great white shark. Fearing for her own safety, Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) decides to move to the Bahamas with her eldest son Michael (Lance Guest) knowing that great white sharks can’t live in the warm waters there. On route she meets airplane pilot Hoagie (Michael Caine) and the two begin to show feelings for each other. Meanwhile, marine biologist Michael and research partner Jake (Mario Van Peebles) begin to notice some strange readings from the sea before realising that a great white shark has mysteriously appeared in the area.
The central conceit behind Jaws: The Revenge is that a shark can terrorise a family. It achieves this by travelling thousands of miles in 3 days to a habitat that it is not accustomed to, avoiding attacking other people to specifically target the Brody family and friends. If this wasn’t ridiculous enough, there’s the fact that the rest of the Jaws films are horrors whereas Jaws: The Revenge seems to be shooting for family drama. It should be noted that the main problem with Jaws 3 was the lack of character development, whereas Jaws: The Revenge goes to the other end of the spectrum showing us every waking moment of the Brody family as they try and come to terms with loss.
It’s a bold attempt to change the mood of film, but it fails completely not only removing any thrills or tension, but populating most of the 90 minute running time with endless dull conversations. Then when the shark does get involved, it looks silly and unbelievable and even growls from time-to-time. The fact the shark only kills people in the whole film, and for a thriller based around the threat to a specific group of people, to have them all survive makes a mockery of the whole premise.
The worst part of Jaws: The Revenge is the ending. There was much discussion during production of how the film should end. The original saw everyone, including the shark die, which was deemed to be too dark. So instead everyone survives and the shark is impaled, or blown up, or run through. It’s never clear and instead its final demise is apparently left up to the audiences imagination. It’s lazy film-making in the extreme.
If ever there was proof that a franchise had outstayed its welcome, it’s Jaws: The Revenge. Mindless plot, endless expositional dialogue, no threat or tension, a ridiculous shark and one of the worst endings in film history comfortably place this among the worst films ever given a national release. Not thrilling enough to be a thriller or scary enough to be a horror, Jaws: The Revenge ends up being a non-dramatic family drama and it utterly terrible.