JAWS THE REVENGE (91 mins) $19.95
1987 Universal/Goodtimes
Region 0
Video: Widescreen (2.35.1)
Audio: DD 4.1 Stereo Surround 
Subtitles: Spanish, French
Chapter Stops: 18
Packaging: Keep Case

 

Directed by Joseph Sargent


Ah, the notorious JAWS THE REVENGE. Not since BATMAN AND ROBIN has a sequel bought shame to a beloved franchise. Everyone knows the original JAWS was an awesome film, but with each sequel the quality just went downhill. Well, I never saw this one (except for 10 minutes of the pan’n scan cable TV version and found it horrible) but I had heard about its bad rep for years. I’ve always been a huge JAWS fan and I’ve seen them all several times (with the exception of this one). After watching this DVD version, I can honestly say this one is better than JAWS 3. I also want to confess a guilty pleasure: I enjoyed watching this movie on DVD and momentarily I’ll explain why. Let me add that the movie is deserving of it’s reputation. It is an insult to the original, and its surely not for everyone. But thanks to Goodtimes excellent DVD treatment, here is a few reasons I enjoyed it:

  • Goodtimes DVD packaging states that JAWS THE REVENGE is in the 1.85.1 aspect ratio. Even branded on the DVD is the same information. I put the DVD in my player and lo and behold, the movie turns out to be 2.35.1
  • Because of Goodtime’s aspect ratio glitch, I could not have expected the brilliant cinematography and quality widescreen transfer of this DVD. The movie takes place mostly in the Bahamas, and the widescreen cinematography is breathtaking, as is all the underwater sequences. Goodtimes also produces a really powerful Dolby Digital 4.1 mix for this DVD. So technically, the excellent presentation given to a not so excellent film elevates the viewing experience.
  • The cut of the movie on this DVD features footage not in the theatrical or video versions. I’m not in a position to say what has been added since I’ve never seen the original version but, in my opinion, unseen added footage usually either reveals a few more things about the movie (or characters), or makes the film more appealing outright.

The film stars Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody, surviving wife of the late Sheriff Brody from the first two films. Lance (THE LAST STARFIGHTER) Guest stars as her son Michael who was a boy in the first couple films but is know grown up and is a marine biologist. Mario Van Peebles plays his best friend Jake who is a Jamaican marine biologist. Michael Caine plays Hoagie the airplane pilot who Mrs. Brody gets romantically involved with. Karen Young is Carla, a sculptor who is also Michael’s wife, and Judy Barsi is their charming daughter Thea. First victim Sean Brody is played by Mitchell Anderson. Director Joseph Sargent has no other film credits, so either this was his first Hollywood venture and it killed his career, or his name could be a pseudonym for somebody who wisely abandoned ship.

In the fictional town of Amity near Cape Cod Massachusetts, young deputy Sean Brody is in a boat in the town’s harbor. Suddenly strains of John William’s ominous score begins to play, but he does not hear it. He becomes victim number one, as first the shark bites his arm off, then decides to chomp down the entire boat that Sean was in. The authorities are flabbergasted, and Grandma Brody goes into shock thinking that a single omnipresent shark has it in for her entire family.

Son Michael and his wife and daughter leave the Bahamas where he does marine work to go to Amity to spend time with the family in their time of need. After the memorial services, Michael suggests that his mother should come back with them to the Bahamas to get away. They charter a plane owned by pilot Hoagie to bring them to their residence in the islands. The family spends time together as Ellen reflects on life and starts to get romantic feelings for Hoagie.

The local Bahamians are holding a festival with one of Michael’s wife’s sculptures to be on display. During the beach festival, Ellen senses that something is amiss, and sure enough her granddaughter Thea narrowly escapes death when the banana boat she was riding on gets attacked by the great white, and the woman sitting next to the girl is the one that gets eaten. Ellen and the other festival attendees witness the whole thing and panic breaks out. Ellen becomes catatonic and boards Michael’s boat and heads out to sea by herself to presumably hunt the shark down. After hearing about the attack, Hoagie, Michael, and Jake take Hoagie’s plane out to look for her. They find her out at sea and all alone, except for the circling shark, that is. Now Ellen must face her fears as the Brody clan prepares for it’s final struggle with the monster shark.

I found the film, despite all it’s problems, to be a parody of the JAWS saga, kind of like those comedy films that satire legit Hollywood films like AIRPLANE, HOT SHOTS, and LOADED WEAPON. JAWS THE REVENGE is so outrageous in almost every aspect, that if you view it on it’s own (with your tongue firmly in your cheek), and NOT compare it to the classic original, you may find it campy entertainment. Even the title lends itself to parody. JAWS THE REVENGE. Not JAWS IV: THE REVENGE, not even JAWS, THE REVENGE. An more appropriate title should have been JAWS IV: GRANDMA’S REVENGE. Check out these moments that are devoid of logic (please forgive the spoilers).

  • As the great white makes its last desperate attack on it’s pursuers, the shark stands nearly upright and roars like a monster. I’ve never known a fish to roar.
  • To get away from water and escape the threat of the monster shark in Amity, Mrs. Brody travels to the Bahamas and hangs on the beach. That’s a good way to avoid the water.
  • The shark beats the Brody family to the Bahamas in a record breaking swim!
  • Mrs. Brody has flashbacks to the first Jaw’s film. But the scenes are shark attack scenes she was not even in!
  • The character Jake is attacked and eaten by the shark, but after the Brody’s blow it up, Jake not only survives but he is barely injured and he is in a good mood!
  • In one scene, Michael Brody escapes the shark by letting the air out of his oxygen tanks which propels him many leagues upwards until he reaches the surface. Amazingly, he avoids getting the bends!
  • The shark stands upright and practically walks on water on his hind fins to snag his air breathing victims!
  • As Ellen Brody uses the boats mast to pierce the sharks hide and cause the shark to explode, Ellen, Michael, and Hoagie fall into the water because of their ship is capsizing, but the boat mysteriously dissappears!

There is a lot of time spent in the film on the healing process of Sean’s death, with some overlong family drama. This makes us sympathize with the characters, but it slows down the pace. Those horror fans who watch this merely to see people munched may be disappointed. The shark only kills two people in the whole movie in some spectacular attack scenes. The shark, though obviously a prop, is not too bad and more convincing than the sharks in JAWS 3. One of the films best scenes is after the Brody family blows up the shark, the burst-open carcass sinks to the bottom of the ocean like the Titanic, leaving clouds of blood billowing behind it.

SIGHT

Goodtimes presents Universal’s JAWS THE REVENGE in a 2:35.1 widescreen transfer despite the packaging stating that the movie is 1.85.1. Though there are a few stars in the film, the cinematography is the real star. John Mcpherson, who has photographed popular films such as BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, SHORT CIRCUIT, and FLETCH LIVES is the only member of the crew to continue to work on Hollywood productions (certainly the scriptwriter and director were never heard from again). The underwater scenes, the panoramic ocean shots, the island views, are all extremely well photographed and made me feel like I actually visited the islands. The detail in these scenes is stunning and full of detail. The image is very sharp. Colors are genuinely bright and appear accurate. Contrast and brightness are excellent with good shadow detail. There are very few night scenes here, the movie is mostly in brightly lit exterior vistas or dead on underwater blue/greens. Some film grain is apparent, but most won’t notice it; and that’s about the most negative thing I can say about the transfer.

SOUND

Goodtimes also releases a strong Dolby Digital 4.1 soundtrack with tons of bass. The soundtrack provides a lot of ambiance and power. It also has great clarity and directionality, though not quite as good as a DD 5.1 mix. And when the trademark John Williams score kicked in, I started to salivate and wishing I was watching the original. The stereo separation is great with ocean waves swirling around you, the bubbles going by during the scuba scenes, and Hoagie’s airplane flying around behind you.

FEATURES

No extras, not even a trailer.

CONCLUSION

There are a great many movies available on DVD today. Unfortunately, due to studio/filmmaker politics, none of the Jaws films are available on DVD except this one. Though far from the best, JAWS THE REVENGE is all we have right now to hold us over until Speilberg comes to his senses. Make no bones about it, the film is a huge mistake, but watching it on DVD made me nostalgic for the first two films and for the Brody family. Technically, Goodtimes has delivered a high quality DVD both sonically and visually, and this extended version may be worth a second look by those who are not offended by it.

The movie itself is a lot like the Universal Studios mechanical shark attraction; a fun, cheesy ride that doesn’t last too long.

JAWS: THE REVENGE is available at DVDEmpire

 

                                                 Rating (out of 5):

Movie: 3.0
Video: 4.0
Audio: 4.0
Extras: 1.0
Overall:

3.5

- Neil Messenger

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