For once, I haven’t written a lengthy review on Letterboxd before writing one here. I meant to write this before now, but hey life gets in the way and it’s not like either of us are making money with this blog.
All I’ve written thus far is:
There’s an argument to be made that this is better than Jaws 3. And I’m going to write it and post it.
They both suck, though.
So this is my fulfillment of the promise to make the argument that Jaws: The Revenge is better than Jaws 3-D, which is usually referred to as Jaws 3. (For the record, whether you say Jaws 3-D or Jaws 3, it’s still terrible.) In fact, Jaws 3-D has my common half-star rating that acknowledges that at least they made and released a movie, but Jaws 3-D truly deserves what Michael Corleone was willing to pay Senator Geary: nothing.
So Why Do I Rate Jaws: The Revenge Higher Than Jaws 3-D?
Without being too flip, “because it’s a better movie.” To offer some shading to that, it’s a more coherent script that makes an attempt to get back to the basics and make it an actual human story.
Before you get too far ahead of me and think I’m claiming it’s a great or even good movie, I’m not. It’s still a bad movie. It’s just that on the scale of bad movies, it’s not as bad as Jaws 3-D.
In fact, it’s a charmingly bad movie. One of the things that’s endearing about it is that it’s a clear example of a series “rebootquel,” which is a nonsense term that I’ve read somewhere or other, but means: a sequel that ignores all the other sequels since the first movie/the most recent you want to remain valid in story continuity. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is arguably the earliest “rebootquel” I could name, but such a term of art didn’t exist back then. Highlander III: The Sorcerer/The Magician/The Final Dimension/The Final Conflict (no really, all those subtitles are valid) is also a “rebootquel,” but at this point I’ve just fallen in love with writing “rebootquel” as many times as possible in a single sentence.
Back to the point, Jaws: The Revenge allows the viewer to ignore Jaws 3-D completely, or even ignore Jaws 2 if they so desire. I’d argue that since all of the sequels to Jaws are best to ignore, it’s almost like it’s encouraging you to wipe the slate clean after enduring this one.
That’s not the only reason I like it more than Jaws 3-D, though. As clunky as it is, there’s an earnest desire to focus on Ellen Brody as a woman living with tragedy and trying to make the best of her life after losing her husband off-screen, and one of her sons in the beginning. In fact, if you remove the shark attack at the beginning that kills one of the sons, it’s an interesting concept. Years after the traumatic events portrayed in the first Jaws, we come back to a woman who wants to start anew.
By contrast, Jaws 3-D is a steep dive (get it?) into an abysmal place with a poor premise, bad performances, and terrible execution. Jaws: The Revenge has a decent premise and the performances are actually fine for the material. The only exception being Mario Van Peebles’ Jamaican (?) accent, but you can’t be too picky.
She moves to the Bahamas, finds a man of her own age (Michael freaking Caine?!) that is legitimately interested in her, and starts anew. Naturally, a shark finds her cursed family and that’s really the absolute worst part of it all. But I can’t help but think that one of the things that makes it such a bad call is because of the baggage of the previous sequels.
It’s also intriguing because despite the very-clunky beginning, it functions sort of like Superman 4: The Quest for Peace. It’s not a bad premise, but the execution is befuddling. I’d argue the premise for Jaws: The Revenge is actually better than the one for Superman 4, but that’s a story for a different day.
Since this is one of those sequels that rebooted a series, like 2018’s Halloween, it seems that maybe the marketing is where it really went wrong. They could have pushed the angle not of the shark, but of a woman coming to terms with aging and loss against the backdrop of feeling trapped by past trauma.
But did the thought enter executives’ heads to market things in such a way in the first place? Would it really have helped Jaws: The Revenge be a more gently-reviewed movie?
Likely it wouldn’t have been much more gently reviewed, because again I agree that it’s not a good movie, but I’m willing to bet that the reviews wouldn’t have been quite as harsh.
So of Course I Talked About It on a Podcast!
Naturally, if I finally decided to watch all the Jaws sequels after a happy and fulfilling life without having watched them, I was motivated to do so. That motivation was to appear with my friends B-Shea and Zach on their show “Fanchise Fatigue” on the United Federation of Podcasts. It’s a really fun show, and it’s always good to talk with them.
Have a listen to three friends having a lot of fun discussing a bad Jaws movie that all three insist isn’t as bad the bad Jaws movie that preceded it!
As an added bonus, discover what I think would be the perfect pairing for a Double Feature of the Damned when paired along with Jaws: The Revenge!
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