Directed by: Joseph Sargent
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Written by Nick McCann
“Jaws 3-D” may have been a dramatic shift from the legacy of the original Spielberg film, but it was at least amusing. The SeaWorld setting and shoddy special effects, along with other oddities, kept it from becoming too much of a slog to get through. It even still retained that fun summer feeling at the movies. Now comes a fourth movie and boy does this series sink even lower. This is also another laughably done follow-up, with even more problems.
So it’s called “The Revenge” and it’s P-E-R-S-O-N-A-L now! The Brody family returns, taking a hit that affects them all deeply. Psychologically… stupidly is more like it. This story has problems from the beginning. The meat of it all, that the widowed Ellen Brody is now psychically linked with the shark. Explaining this is beyond words though randomness and nonsensical seem apt. This film has a dreary and depressing tone. It goes long stretches without a shark attack, instead focusing on more boring human drama than before. The rotten cherry on top of that is the reuse of footage from the first movie that is worse nostalgia-baiting than a lot of modern films.
It’s a situation where you feel bad for the cast that has to perform the material. Lorraine Gary returns from before, trying her best to salvage the direction her character has to go. It’s the same for a lot of other characters. Lance Guest functions okay as the second lead and Mario Van Peebles dials up the Rastafarian accent as the sidekick. Michael Caine though remains the high talking point. Although he famously detracted the film and came for the money and sights, you’d be hard-pressed to say he did poorly here. The guy looks as comfortable as in any other movie he’s been in, effortlessly being as charming as possible. Sooner or later though, everyone gets some kind of goofy quirk that happens to them as a result of the shoddy direction and a poor excuse for a script.
Even though the last movie had some of the worst visual effects ever, I’d wager this movie outdoes it. There may not be blurry 3-D optical effects, but the shark animatronic is awful. It moves unconvincingly, the overall design lacks menace and certain angles of it give away its fakeness. You can even see the equipment that operates the thing in various shots!
Otherwise, the movie looks fine enough, with the cinematography taking good advantage of its Bahamas setting. Some of the underwater coverage is fine too. It’s nothing that makes me want to vacation there but it beats “3-D.” Also kind of redeeming is Michael Small’s score. He goes for a similar style to John Williams with a big sound that brings the shark theme to the forefront after downplaying it in the last movie. The raw sound of it during the action portions does propel the shakiness of these sequences.
If you needed a reason for “Jaws” never to be franchised, look no further. This is two for two on laughable attempts to keep this series going. For me, this is worse than “Jaws 3-D.” Psychic sharks with vendettas beat out some gimmicky effects. The script, directing, and tone of it all were a bad idea on top of the very idea of movie number four. If you got the beer and company, this’ll fit the bill for a bad movie night. Any other way of watching would just be torture.
“Jaws: The Revenge” Trailer