Michael vs. Thomas: JAWS 2 and JAWS 3
Michael Rich and our Editor-in-Chief love horror films and hate each other. In the spirit of the great horror face-offs of history, they’ll be going toe-to-toe in the ring and covering the horror films of Netflix in Michael vs. Thomas.
Logline: This small resort town vanquished one killer shark four years ago. But it’s still not safe to go back in the water.
Michael: JAWS is the quintessential shark movie. Arguably, one of the greatest films ever made. How in the world do you follow it up? That curiosity is what led to the interesting double feature for this week, Thomas.
Thomas: I’m glad you cleared up what inspired you to take us on this Hellish route, because I have never been so mad at you. This was one of the most boring viewing experiences I’ve ever had. I felt nothing, and certainly did not feel an inkling of horror!
Michael: Now, I could look back at some of the crap you’ve chosen, but I’ll remain professional. Look, JAWS 2 and 3 are easy punching bags and I expected them to suck mad fish guts. Dare I say though, they’re not that bad?
Thomas: I can’t say in good conscious that JAWS 2 is a bad film, but it’s so excessively competent that it is rendered unenjoyable. My biggest gripe is that there’s no fun to be had in the shark attacks. This is presumably scary because we’re frightened of the deadly nature of the Great White, but considering how the robot shark prop looks and how little gore we’re exposed to, it fell on deaf ears. Maybe a product of viewing it in 2016?
Michael: I think so. JAWS 2 isn’t keeping anyone up at night but does the first one do that anyway? Sure, the original is on people’s minds when they’re at the beach, but I’m not struggling to turn the lights off after watching it. Like you said, JAWS 2 is a pretty competent film. John Williams’s score is as good as the first one. Roy Scheider delivers a convincing performance, even though the material he has to work with isn’t as groundbreaking as the previous installment
Thomas: The one part of the narrative I found tense was the classic trope of a community not believing a prophet of doom, but I was confused as to why everyone was so firmly convinced that Roy Scheider was lying about another shark attack. It’s not like Amity hadn’t been attacked by a shark before…
Michael: Oh, that made absolutely no sense. Amity has the same mayor, who decides to fire Chief Brody even after he shows them a goddamn picture of a shark. That’s the biggest problem with JAWS 2. It has basically the same underlying story as JAWS and almost cheapens the original film because nothing changed.
Thomas: A safe sequel considering it was the early days of franchising, but not necessary viewing for anyone but JAWS completionists and masochists like us.
Logline: Glass is all that separates us from the fish at SeaWorld. When an irate shark is involved…that’s not good.
Thomas: This is a much more enjoyable film than JAWS 2. There, I said it. They were willing to shake up the formula, and while it’s considerably more campy, I had a lot more fun with it. Not to mention those “3-D” effects that are entirely pointless on Netflix…
Michael: Can you imagine sitting in the theater with those flimsy red and blue glasses, just so you can see a handful of shitty 3-D effects, like the decapitated arm and the unmoving shark that breaks through the glass? It sounds like a terrible time, but also kind of awesome.
Thomas: It was a simpler time, Michael! “Mr. Roboto” was a top musical single from the year, for Chrissakes! I think this would have been a fun time in the theaters. I would argue that since this approaches B-movie status in many ways, it’s actually more of a “horror” film than JAWS 2. Shots at the end like the shark exploding are worth the price of admission. Well, presumably, in any case.
Michael: JAWS 3 isn’t a better overall film than JAWS 2, but I do agree that it’s more fun. Chief Brody doesn’t make an appearance in this movie, but his sons do. Did you think that was a convoluted way to connect it to the previous films?
Thomas: Not necessarily convoluted, but it could have done with a cameo from Chief Brody to tie everything together. On the topic of acting, though, I have to give JAWS 3 credit for not jumping the gun. This doesn’t feel as bad as many other third installments in “horror” franchises. Everyone is still trying, and characters like Calvin Bouchard are welcome additions.
Michael: And you can’t forget Dennis Quaid playing one of Brody’s sons! The filmmakers and producers hide the fact that it’s a cash-in pretty well. I also like the twist halfway in about the shark, even though we saw it before to an extent in the first JAWS. I give JAWS 2 and 3 both a semi-enthusiastic thumbs up. If you’re a shark fan,you gotta take whatever you can get that’s decent.
Thomas: Put those thumbs down for JAWS 2, but I’ll give JAWS 3 my half-hearted blessing.