Written by / 6/17/2016 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

BITING INTO THE BLASPHEMY OF JAWS THE REVENGE

Well it is terrific artwork, mom taking the harpoon and the lead
If you don't count CADDYSHACK II – the fourth JAWS, tag-titled THE REVENGE, takes the cake, or in this case, chum, for the worst sequel ever made...

While Part 3, released at the time as 3D, is a bad movie, at least it's got campy cult value. Here, after Roy Scheider's Martin Brody has (already) died of a heart-attack, we center on his grown-up sons at a luxurious Oceanic Theme Park. And now it's mom, Ellen's, turn at the lead, played again by Lorraine Gary from the original and the flawed but downright entertaining second outing. She takes a vacation with her oldest son, Mike, a Marine Biologist (like Dennis Quaid was in the third), tanning in the beautiful Bahamas...

This is after, on the once-central Island of Amity, the new young Sheriff, Sean Brody, Martin's youngest, is the rudimentary victim of what usually occurs in the pre-credit prologue: beginning with the legendary skinny dipping girl; a few annoying deep sea divers taking pictures of Robert Shaw's boat, The Orca; a fish beheaded; and now what seems to be a dorsal fin's gliding perspective of the water... Very boring...

"Candygram"
Though setting the stage for a potentially decent, exploitively bloody scene completely ruined by choppy editing, as if pieced together by a blind monkey – JAWS are frantically chomping but you can't see a damn thing... And yet, later on, an underwater "chase" sequence pitting shark against Mike, weaving in and out of a sunken ship, isn't too shabby... That's about it, of the good things... Or actually, thing.

Back on track: After the funeral, when Ellen gets tropical, she's joined with the usually fantastic Michael Caine in a paycheck-collecting turn as Hoagie, a dime novel throwback, rogue piloting maverick, later turned into a dashing form of Shaw's experienced Captain Quint, in sleep mode. Incredibly misplaced scenes have the zero chemistry odd couple talking about retirement, or laughing it up in a gambling casino and, with the exception of one shark sighting, at this point, almost halfway in, you'd never think this was a JAWS film, or anything having to do with a killer fish. By 1987, the lacquer of cult movie film stock wasn't timeless or antique: everything about part 4, in repose, looks so new and shiny and utterly, hopelessly dull and uninteresting. Though it tries to connect with the basic template: in Richard Dreyfuss mode is scientist son Mike while the comedic, easygoing side goes to not only the worst character in the film but perhaps the most annoying of all time – that's if Mario Van Peebles role as a smack talkin' punk with a red Michael Jackson 'Beat It' jacket and a heavy metal guitar strapped around his neck, from Clint Eastwood's HEARTBREAK RIDGE, isn't considered.

The Soundtrack cover ripping off the JAWS 2 poster
The characters are disconnected from each other and the horror/suspense element isn't anywhere to be found – not the music, the acting, or direction. They do show-off the shark since it's more realistic than the famous "Bruce" from the classic, which Spielberg used only sporadic shots of – combined with actual footage – but hired-hand director Joseph Sargent hasn't a clue where to place the camera to give a palpable feeling of doom in the water, or dread on land.

Why Mike?
Sad because Lorraine Gary, though resembling a giraffe on a swizzle stick, is a very capable actress, and her devotion and strength, in the first two ventures, is headstrong, dynamic and, without trying to compete with her man, she's an equal partner. Gary, Caine and the entire franchise, even if it did get worse, deserved something not only better but... just something, anything but this.

During the finale, as the torpedoing shark heads toward the brave Brody heroine... do or die for the fish or the human... the shark ROARS... loudly... like a lion... the only campy howler-moment that's worth searching for (You Tube probably has it)...

Kill! Kill! Kill!
And in closing, a contrived heart-tugging attempted homage to the original where, like when the depressed Sheriff Brody and his youngest son exchange monster faces while John Williams' ghostly piano keys sound like a lonesome, underwater dream, is redone horribly as Mike, played by THE LAST STARFIGHTER Lance Guest with a brainy beard, and his daughter... the token child who'll obviously wind up in peril, somehow... are exchanging similar expressions back and forth at the dinner table, again witnessed by mom, now grandma. This, along with a throwaway cameo by Mrs. Kitner, is pure blasphemy in this dull, catastrophic wreck that makes JAWS 3D seem like APOCALYPSE NOW.

RATING: 1/2
TRIVIA: There are two versions of JAWS: THE REVENGE and one is on the "Alternative Ending" Bonus section of the new Blu Ray, which has the original artwork, like shown in the big picture at the top of this review, but pasted onto a neat white background as opposed to an actual poster rendering. The first ending was the one shown in theaters and thereafter played on a cable TV loop – where Peeble's Jake buys the farm. In this version, after being pulled into the water, he's last seen in the rushing-off shark's mouth like a piece of candy, something bad for him but very, very wonderful for the viewing audience. In the second, revised version, after the "you son of a bitch" shark is killed, Peebles miraculously pops back up, injured yet alive. So in the very, very ending, as Ellen climbs into Michael Caine's plane, she tells her son, "Take care". And in the second version, she says (through looping), "Take care of Jake." Why on earth are we hindered with this ending, which is beyond vapid in a movie already beyond vapid? And why was he even alive at all; Political Correctness, you say? Too many black people had died in "horror films" already, and enough was enough? Oh, if only they'd spared Quint in this unrealistic fashion: Then perhaps JAWS 2 would be called SHAWS!
Bruce the Shark with late-80's facelift. But a good story and worthy characters are needed. And this don't have either.
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