Jaws: The Revenge

jaws the revenge.JPG
UK Release Date 23rd July 1987
Director Joseph Sargent
Starring Two-time Oscar Winner
Runtime 89 Minutes
Certificate 12
Reviewer Si
Reviewed 18th March 2013

We’re big fans of all sorts of movies here at broken shark, we’re not shy. Having said that, we like some films that are pretty hard to defend. So, for the first in a possible series of Movies that are Great we don’t Care what you Think… we present Jaws: The Revenge.

As you may have noticed from just about every bit of branding on this site (both logos and the name), we are massive Jaws fans here. At some point we may write about that movie. But to be honest, we’re a bit scared that we can in no way do it justice. After all, what hasn’t been said about it? Suffice to say that along with ET it’s up there with a few other films that drove us to spend as much time in front of the big screen as we have and ultimately drove us to generate all that you read here.

So why on earth do we love the fourth instalment so much? Well, small admission first, it’s only the male half of broken shark that loves it. The female half will raise her eyes to the sky on reading this.

I can honestly say it’s one of my most watched bad movies. I have no doubt some of the rest will appear in these very pages at some point in the not too distant. Pretty much every time I’ve spent the evening battling with some sort of website technical issue and just want to sit and write about movies. Which is kind of the point.

I digress. To set the scene for anyone not fortunate enough to have witnessed Joseph Sargent’s opus, it follows the exploits of one particularly riled great white shark as it traverses the ocean to track down Chief Brody’s wife. Played astonishingly by Lorraine Gary. From the original two films.  Roy Scheider’s character having had the good presence of mind to shuffle off his mortal dinghy by means of a heart attack. Alluded to being caused by the shark. Although not directly.

Poor old Ellen Brody has no such luck though and before she knows it, her penultimate son (honestly, I can’t remember which one from the original film – I think it might be the youngest) is offed early-doors by said shark, having again inexplicably got a job that involves being out in a boat at night on his own.

To get away from this trauma, old Ellen heads for the Bahamas. Yes, the Bahamas. Which is a string of islands surrounded by Deep Blue Sea (we also LOVE that film. Not, I hasten to add the entirely shark-free re-boot by Terence Davies). Actually, while we’re on, other favourite water-based peril films are The Deep (wet t-shirts will never be the same again), Lake Placid (superb gigantic killer crocodile in a lake comedy), Piranha (original or 3D, we don’t mind, they’re both bonkers), Into the Blue (Jessica Alba looking very much like she’s been CGI’d into the movie), Leviathan (Peter ‘Robocop’ Weller in a film that sank faster than Robocop in a deep bath) and Deep Rising (with Broken Shark favourite Famke Janssen).

So, we’re over the first few questionable elements, mainly revolving around the Brody family’s total inability to stay AWAY from water when Ellen arrives in the Bahamas at her other son’s house. He is of course, anyone, anyone? Yup, a marine biologist.  Ellen’s therapist should have been giving a refund if this was their suggested therapy. You can imagine the session that brought this about.

“So…. Your husband died from stress due to his repeated shark-avoidance issues, your son has just been messily consumed by the same make of shark that did your husband in, you witnessed all kinds of terror in the first two films before sitting out Dennis Quaid watching a shark swim backwards out of an intake pipe having hung around there for a couple of days, and now you’re feeling a bit low.”

“Yes, whatever should I do?”

“You should go to a remote island, surrounded by sea and sit at home whilst your remaining son goes out in a knackered old boat to survey clams on the seafloor. That will set you up nicely.”

“Excellent, thanks doc”

And off she went.

So Ellen mopes around, annoys her extended family and bumps into Alfie. Only he’s all grown up and desperate for money to build a new house in real life. While she’s hanging around with the two-time Academy Award winner, her son is out floating around trying desperately to be in the right part of the shot to block out the running cable or big holes in the side of a fake shark. That’s right, they filmed a Jaws film in crystal clear water. With 1987 fake shark technology. We have a helium filled balloon shark at home currently that is more realistic than the mechanical shark in this film. I tell you, it’s eerie the way the thing just floats around. I’m sure it’s lurking in the spare room now ready to scare me to death later.

The mechanics of the shark are the least of the issues. In the time it took Ellen to wisely heed her fictional psychiatrist’s bonkers words, get on an aeroplane and fly to the Bahamas, the shark that nailed son number two has swum down to meet her. As the crow flies, that’s around 1,125 miles. Assuming that Amity Island is in fact in the same place in this universe as Martha’s Vineyard is in our universe. Some random research on the interweb reckons the average speed of a large shark to be around 1.5 miles per hour.  Which I reckon (after some furious calculating and frankly some cheating) would mean the journey would take the shark a month. Depending on its airmiles. But let’s not get too caught up in that. A slightly bigger issue is that of navigation. Many species are known to mysteriously navigate to certain areas without any obvious use of maps or compasses. Turtles for example will always go back to lay their eggs on the beach they hatched from. The main issue here is how did the shark get wind of Ellen’s plans? After all, it’s a long way to travel on spec.

The film rather enigmatically leaves us to ponder this deep question whilst it cracks on with flinging the shark at a banana boat full of kiddies in order that it can chew off the woman sat next to the Brody grandchild. This event occurs after the shark has a quick pop at the final Brody son whilst he’s out checking out the conchs. Fortunately, young Michael is a dab hand at out-swimming the shark, quite possibly because it is very obviously fixed to the ocean floor. The banana boat mauling is witnessed by Ellen and sets her therapy back some way. Especially as her son had forgotten to let his mother know about the return of the shark. At some point during all this, Michael and his buddy manage to radio tag the shark. To be honest, I can’t exactly remember when this occurred but I don’t think that’s so important.

For reasons that presumably only her therapist would understand, Ellen decides the best way to deal with this is to steal a yacht and head out to sea. Her therapist would be disappointed at this stage, as she shows no signs of having learned anything. Completely unarmed, with no apparent plan whatsoever, piloting a pretty large yacht solo and wearing a very natty white pant-suit, she heads out in no particular direction to confront the shark. At this stage you have to assume that the tracker planted on the shark has some sort of reverse feed that instantly tells the shark where Ms Brody is.

Fortunately for the good widow, her son and accompanying two-time Oscar winner are more than happy to grab a ‘plane and head out to stop her making a complete fool of herself. They do this by crashing said ‘plane into the ocean and swimming to the boat. Pretty ballsy considering one of them is from the marked family. I completely forgot to mention that Michael’s conch-tagging mate Jake is also along for the ride. This is important in a minute.

With the four of them now on the boat, the film gets really silly. Which is probably one of its more impressive achievements. Just when you thought it was as daft as daft can be, it plunges into a whole new world of madness.

The combined Michael / Jake marine biologist team come up with a brainwave. If they point what looks like a big flashgun at the shark and switch it on, it will shock the shark. I can’t be bothered to look this one up after my earlier research endeavours so I guess we’ll have to leave the science behind this part to chance, but it transpires that if the fire the flashgun, the shark rears up in the water and roars. You read that right. I cannot imagine the script meeting that this gem came out of. But it was the eighties I suppose. So they sail around for a bit, aggravating the shark with the flashgun until tragedy strikes and Jake gets carried away by the creature. The boat gets a bit broken during the scuffle, leaving a rather nasty sharp bit sticking out.

Michael and Ellen join forces and driving the shark out of the water with the flashgun, they stab it with the boat. Or at least they stab it with a very shoddy model version of the boat. I’m pretty sure there are a couple of different versions of this ending and in one there is an explosion but for the sake of our own sanity, let’s just stick to the one where the boat sinks after skewering the shark. The film then throws in its final coup-de-grace by having Jake re-surface, apparently non-the-worse for his being dragged under water by the shark. Some minutes ago. During which time he was not to be seen anywhere. So not only can he survive being chewed by a great white, he’s also quite the free-diver. Either the shark had had its fill or it didn’t like the taste of a non-Brody body. This is never resolved as the shark has met its tragic demise at this point. As has the franchise which never recovered. Unlike Ellen who flies off into the sunset having dealt with her fear of sharks and no doubt netting her surprisingly unconventional therapist a decent bonus. Though some of that is probably owed to the remaining Brody boy whose insurance premiums must have skyrocketed after this little venture. Not that it’s likely he’d be able to claim any of the lost boat and equipment on his insurance. The adjuster must have had the easiest job in the world on that one.

And so, $23 million later, the Jaws series collapses in on itself. It’s worth mentioning that this film made $7 million on its opening weekend. Which is nothing short of astonishing. It also made $21 million domestically and a further $31 million worldwide.       

As bad films go, it’s a truly impressive high water mark. It destroys an admittedly ailing franchise, makes absolutely no sense, makes claims on animal activity that a five year old would object to, has a list of continuity errors long enough to stretch from Amity Island to the Bahamas and keeps one of its stars away from collecting his first Oscar. We love that this film managed to get made at all, let alone get a cinema release.


Check out the bonkers trailer here.

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