Jaws: The Revenge Blu-ray Review

Jaws 4: Just Burn it All Down

Most baffling about Jaws: The Revenge is how sincere the production appears. Despite a shark which chases the Brody family thousands of miles to the Bamahas, despite Ellen Brody’s psychological intuition about the attacks, despite stock roars pouring from the beast, despite an insinuation the fish actually lays traps – Jaws: The Revenge plays everything with earnest.

Choosing to ignore the lunacy of Jaws 3, the fourth Jaws outing serves as a story reset, following Jaws 2. Lorraine Gray returns as the Brody mother, steadfast in her belief there’s a shark which has a personal vendetta against her and her kids. It’s plausible she’s suffering from after effects of some anxiety, caused by events in previous movies. Then Jaws: The Revenge chooses to act on that concept.

Matched in the ’80s only by the theatrical audacity of King Kong Lives, Universal’s killer shark sequel employs significant creative editing, whittling the film to its thinnest essentials. A tie-in novel expanded on characters and sub-plots, leaving the film version longing for depth. Jaws: The Revenge isn’t even a shark attack film, rather an anemic story of a mother, her flirtatious relationships, a pilot (Michael Caine), and the carnivore who interrupts their dire drama.

… the film remains conceptually confused by Jaws’ success.

Inconceivably stupid in its conclusion, Jaws: The Revenge exists in two versions. In the original US edit, the bow of a boat pokes the critter, causing it to bleed to death. Not exciting, but less obvious in its hurried reach for spectacle. With the poorly conceived international cut – the version Universal insists on using for home video – Jaws incomprehensibly explodes when poked by the bow, with stock footage from the first Jaws filling in any holes.

Neither conclusion makes Jaws: The Revenge better. One of the premiere examples of a studio sequel, the film remains conceptually confused by Jaws’ success – it mines the original for nostalgia points, as if copying specific moments will boost quality. Further sinking in caliber with a pitiful shark prop and inexact attack sequences, not even the star attraction cannot overcome a listless story. To her credit, Lorraine Gray squeezes a professional performance from her limiting role, both a grieving widow and mother. Jaws: The Revenge isn’t directionless – it’s a sensible extension of her character – but that honesty drowns in the absurdity which surrounds her.

Jaws: The Revenge Blu-ray screen shot 17

Video

Universal hasn’t lavished attention on this third sequel. Although Jaws 3 came to Blu-ray in its first home 3D release, The Revenge remains stuck in its usual international form. The European ending remains lodged in the bonus features, although in HD.

With such little reason to care about Jaws: The Revnege, it’s unsurprising to see a lackadaisical approach to the mastering. However, this is being sent to stores as a stand alone release. There’s some studio confidence, if not enough to update the scan.

Clear signs of noise reduction cover the screen, leaving faces waxy. Images routinely lack definition even with evidence of sharpening. Exteriors leave the screen smeary and imprecise. Source resolution chokes, leading to minor aliasing on some of the boats. The latter is minimal though.

Grain remains, although it’s clumpy. Poor compression creates an ugly buzzing effect. Uncontrolled grain spikes (mostly at night) won’t help. As a plus, work done on a clean-up pass – assuming one was done – leaves few marks. The source print registers as clean with minimal imperfections. Color, aside from flesh tones, makes an appealing case too. A walk through a festival brings about numerous colorful costumes, even if the saturation leans artificial.

Some location shooting in the Bahamas allows the movie to leverage the sun’s power. Contrast can be heavy. Same goes for black levels, despite some crush. When in close and with the additive of natural light overhead, there are shots where Jaws: The Revenge can be convincing in its fidelity. Then the camera pulls back and Universal’s obnoxious filters run rampant.

Audio

If a touch exaggerated, the DTS-HD 5.1 mix included still works as intended. Stereo effects are superb in their accuracy, and environmental effects reach into the rears. Out at sea, water splashes in each channel. Further out there are additional waves noted in the rears, surrounding listener and characters. Great rain effects show up midway through.

Lifting the action is LFE support. While not dramatic, the rumbling helps adds some terror as the fish bites down. The opening kill builds the shark’s power, matched by a later scene underwater. Luckily, fidelity remains high after 30 years.

Extras

The famed alternate ending and some trailers are the entirety of the bonuses.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.

  • Steven Pulkowski

    Thank you for your review! Although hardly a good sequel (let alone a good movie), I do enjoy it more than Jaws 3D. Its great to see Amity again, Lorraine Gary gives a solid performance, Lance Guest and Mario Van Peebles are likable, there’s great Bahamian scenery and a great soundtrack by Michael Small.

    Although there is a glaring error in your review regarding the original ending. The original U.S. theatrical ending featured the shark being impaled by the bow of the boat, with blood spewing from its mouth as it thrashed back and forth in agony, destroying Neptune’s Folly. The character of Jake also dies.

    When the film was released internationally, they filmmakers regrouped four days after the film’s U.S. theatrical debut to reshoot the ending. The European ending featured the shark also being rammed by the bow of the boat, however, it inexplicably explodes, the boat is destroyed, and Mario Van Peeble’s character, Jake, is now somehow alive after being in the jaws of a 25 ft great white, dragged under the ocean for minutes at a time and suffering massive tissue and blood loss.

  • Matt Paprocki

    Yup, you’re right. I got them totally backwards. Editing now.