Jaws 2 (1978) **

Though it could never reproduce the sheer surprise of the original - and the absence of Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss is felt- this is for the most part a more than satisfactory and rather underrated sequel that is only now beginning to find the reputation it deserves.
The production was scarcely less troubled than the original's, with similar shark problems, the director replaced and the screenplay entirely rewritten after production had begun. (The tie-in novel by Hank Searls is based on the original script by Sackler and Dorothy Tristan, which had a much more eventful and interesting plot than the final film.)
The film's only real fault, not inherited from the original script but for some reason added in the second version, is the amount of mainly uneventful screen time given over to its juvenile cast: Hollywood had recently rediscovered the teenager and the film introduces us to what seems like dozens of them, largely interchangeable and very hard to keep distinct until the shark begins mercifully to thin them out halfway through.
But even these sequences have gained something in period charm over the years, and the rest of the movie is top stuff, with a number of sequences - not least the superb climax - that have passed into movie lore as surely as anything in the original. This - not Spielberg's original - is the one with the shark tower, the opening attack on the water-skier, Brody losing his job after giving a false alarm over a school of bluefish, the discovery of the half-eaten killer whale on the beach, the shock appearance of the charred corpse that suddenly rises out of the water, and the bit when the shark takes down a helicopter.
These moments and many others, all more than ably handled by Jeannot Szwarc, have given the film a longevity predicted by few on the movie's original release. The film's portrait of small town life on the island is as charming and well-observed as in the original, Roy Scheider is fully as impressive as he was first time round (all the more so for having undertaken the reprised role unwillingly), and Murray Hamilton is, if anything, better value than ever as Mayor Vaughan.
A word also for Ann Dusenberry, as Amity Island beauty queen Tina Wilcox - and that word is: 'wowzer!'