The Scoop: 1987 PG-13, directed by Joseph Sargent and starring Lorraine Gary, Michael Caine, and Mario Van Peebles
Tagline: This Time It’s Personal.
Summary Capsule: How can a shark get “personal”? Shut up, tagline!
Justin’s Rating: Stupidity you can chew on.
Justin’s Review: The makers of Jaws: The Revenge ask you to swallow the following without questioning: that a shark (or a close family relative) can have a life-long vendetta, not only against a person, but his entire family as well, and go to great lengths to track them down no matter where they live (which will be invariably near the ocean). Now, can you do that?
I didn’t think so.
How about another: Vendetta Shark follows a guy down the entire eastern seaboard to the Bahamas, bites through his boat, attacks him twice underwater, and still he keeps going underwater in an effort to track that thing for his Ph.D. Common sense couldn’t get through customs, I guess.
After the cheesy and silly-stupid Jaws 3, the series returns for one last trip to a dry well, sucking the dirt in a vain hope to siphon a few more bucks for Universal Studios. The third sequel to Speilberg’s Jaws is no more idiotic than it’s older brothers, but the lack of anything original or fun somehow turns this into a mind-numbing slog through nostalgia.
The only major change in the series is that Bruce the shark is revealed in his entire foam glory early on, eschewing the older “hide him until we get enough special effects budget to throw a sharky party” model. Considering that they didn’t really have the budget anyway, it’s not necessarily a good thing that they play the Bruce card from the get-go. Bruce looks as fake as ever, with a new move: he can now launch himself out of the water vertically about 10-15 feet, standing on his tail. This is added to his repertoire of growling, tracking of people on land, and telepathy with his former victim’s mother.
My advice? Just give up trying to make sense of the movies. They never seem certain whether this is the same shark, a family of sharks, or unrelated giant rogue Great Whites. They never explain why, although they state with certainty, that these sharks have it out for one specific Brody clan. All they want to do is set up some particularly gruesome deaths by chompin’, and give us the classic John Williams theme.
Bruce claims one of the Brody sons in the opening bit, and goes on to track the grieving mom and surviving brother down to the warm Bahamas waters. Taking her opportunity to headline what would be her last film, Lorraine Gary reprises her role as the crucial Ellen Brody, now a haggard grandma with survivor’s guilt. Just as fun as it sounds! She goes through the film trying to convince others of the shark threat, but unlike her former husband, she ends up looking completely crazy. She also falls for Michael Caine, who’s a sort of drug smuggler pilot. An aged Han Solo, if you will. I won’t.
So many clichés abound in Jaws The Revenge that sooner or later you’ll be convinced it’s a put-on. Not just the hemisphere-traveling shark, but the black guy who gets it (yet somehow survives even though they show him being killed), the “Get out of the water! Get out of the water!” screaming scene, and the randomly-exploding fish. It’s time to put the growling Vendetta Shark over the mantle and walk away for good.
Shalen’s Rating: Symptoms of menopause may include hot flashes, mood swings, and episodes of clairvoyance.
Shalen’s Review: Justin is completely correct. This is a bad movie. A very bad movie. A very, very bad movie. Michael Caine doesn’t belong anywhere in it, and I’m completely puzzled as to what he thought he was doing. The plot is nonsensical, the acting is bad, and if Mario Van Peebles wrote his own character, he should probably be stoned to death by other black persons for upholding such an awful cliché.
If you watch it late at night, on cable T.V., with several heckling people, and it’s dubbed in Spanish, and the voice they gave Mario Van Peebles is absolutely hilarious1, it suddenly transforms into one of the most fun viewing experiences ever. I couldn’t stop laughing at lines like, “Abuela, no te preocupes. No hay un tiburon enorme.”2 That particular line is one my Sibs and I quote back and forth even now, and the motel viewing experience was years ago.
You might start out thinking it’s just a boring, annoying film, but the first time someone says “Is that shark growling?” it’s really all over. If nothing else, you’d think Brody and co. would have moved to Duluth by now. Of course, given the way things play out in this series, we’d probably then have to see the giant shark swim upriver all the way to Minnesota, along the way evolving the ability to live in fresh water and alter its own body temperature. It would then trick some hapless, ethnically amusing character into loading it into a cargo container full of chlorinated pool water and dropping it into the Brodys’ Olympic-sized swimming pool, where it would survive despite the poisonous water and live on house pets until one of the Brody family decided to take a swim.
All this to say the shark probably deserves that Ph.D more than any character in this film does.
One day I hope to learn Frances, Deutsche, and possibly Chinese, so that I can watch those versions of this movie, too. Until then, Ten cuidado de los pezes giganticos!
1. Ever heard a Spanish speaker try to do a Jamaican accent?
2. “Don’t worry, Grandma. There’s no giant shark.” Suuuure there isn’t!
- Picture of Marcus Body on the wall of the police station… yeah, that’s subtle!
- If a shark bites off your arm, might as well dangle over the side of the boat to offer him another nibble
- Little children do not make the best airplane pilots
- Sharks can growl now! Seriously!
- Jaws loves chewing on boats. I think he’s teething in this film.
- When a woman is mad at you and holding a lit welder, it’s the best time to hit on them
- Jaws swam from Martha’s Vineyard to the Bahamas in three days. Yes.
- This movie states that sharks would rather go after and eat a plane than a boat. Seriously.
- How many dream sequences and flashbacks do we need?
- Apparently, quite a few.
- Jaws can stand 10-15 feet out of the water on his tail, like a dolphin
- Sharks explode when hit with wooden beams
- At the very beginning of the film, Quint’s boat, “The Orca” (from the first Jaws film), can be seen in the background.
- The water in the tank where the climax was shot was filled with blue dye. The dye kept turning Micheal Caine’s and Lorraine Gary’s hair blue, this is why Michael Caine climbs aboard dry.
- Ellen Brody has flashbacks of the sharks being killed in the previous Jaws movies, but didn’t witness those events. Thus, there is no way she could remember them.
- According to this film, the events that occurred in Jaws 3-D seemed to never took place.
- Mario Van Peebles wrote his own part.
- Michael Caine could not accept his Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters because he was busy filming this movie. When asked about this movie in an interview, he answered, “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
Hoagie: I have an irresistible urge to kiss you, Ellen Brody.
Hoagie: Because… it would not occur to you why.
Ellen Brody: [channeling Ellen Ripley] Come and get me, you son of a bitch!
Michael Brody: I’ve always wanted to make love to an angry welder. I’ve dreamed of nothing else since I was a small boy.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Jaws 2
- Jaws 3