Original Spin: In Jaws (1975), director Steven Spielberg kept the shark mostly hidden, letting the fear of the unseen do all the work. And while Bruce the Great White was the star, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider weren’t chopped liver in one of the scariest movies of all time.
Jaws: The Revenge is frightening in its own way–frighteningly bad. Some of the same elements are on hand, of course–the ominous theme music, the low-angle underwater shots, the crimson tide bubbling to the surface after a kill. But in typical sequel fashion, we’ve traded down from great director to journeyman and from super actors to merely so-so.
The Great White that chomped Scheider in Jaws 2 is back to kill his wife and sons in number four. To start the flick, he sets a trap and gulps son number two as an appetizer in New England; then he cruises down to the Bahamas to make a meal of son number one and the widow, who has flown down to be with her family. (Apparently, nature’s killing machine has access to airline flight plans.)
Michael Caine is unusually annoying as nature’s perfect BS-ing machine, a motormouthed pilot on hand to woo the widow and chew up more scenery than Underwater Fin Boy.
He’s got his work cut out for him, though. While Spielberg let our imagination create the horror, this Great White is so ready for his close-up that he begins to look like the “Candygram!” land shark from SNL.
The Best of the Mess: Seeing pretty boy Mario Van Peebles get chomped like an hors d’oeuvre. Ya, mon!
Our Alternate Title: Flaws 4: This Time It Needed More Rehearsal