Who could forget Jaws? The Steven Spielberg vehicle is the main reason why summer blockbusters exist in the first place. Sure, you can question the wonky acting from some of the minor characters, but the shark movie was a thrilling excursion that managed to hold up despite the creature clearly being fake. To recall, the film starts following the death of a young woman who is killed by a shark near the New England tourist town of Amity Island. Hooper, Quint, and Brody go on the hunt to capture the beast before he kills any more citizens who dare go into the water. Jaws wasn’t just a box office sensation, but it was also a serious Best Picture contender that truly left a mark in the cinema world. Jaws made an astounding $472 million worldwide, so naturally, multiple sequels were made in order to capitalize on the hot brand; however, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed feature never matched the first film.
A Jaws sequel never had a reason to exist other than for monetary reasons. Hooper and Brody killed the shark and saved the day. It was a satisfying conclusion and more importantly, one that didn’t demand a sequel. Is it possible to make a good sequel to Jaws? Definitely! There’s more than one shark that exists in this world so perhaps the sequel could’ve upped the ante by introducing multiple sharks that terrorized the town. Jaws 2 just never got out of the shadow of being an unnecessary cash grab, and even if the idea of multiple sharks was implemented then it would’ve still felt unworthy to exist. Point blank, Jaws had a beginning, middle, and end. The question surrounding the feature was whether Brody, Hooper, and Quint could successfully kill the shark. Quint does ultimately die in the end, but the two remaining survivors put an end to the shark and the journey as a whole. There weren’t any lingering questions that demanded a sequel.
Here’s the thing, it isn’t impossible for an unnecessary sequel to be great. Did we really need to follow up on Andy, Buzz, and the gang in Toy Story 3? The toys successfully completed their journey by avoiding a lifetime of being forced into a toy museum and went back home to Andy. We didn’t need to see them again because it provided closure to the overall story. However, cash grab or not (which it is) Toy Story 3 provided a reason to exist and is a welcome canon into the Toy Story world. 10 Cloverfield Lane also didn’t have to exist. There could be an argument made that it isn’t truly a sequel to the Cloverfield movie, but technically, it is and it’s pretty good, though that ending feels tacked on. Point is, there’s plenty more examples of sequels that ultimately serve a purpose by adding to the rich lore that its predecessor provided. But even Jaws 2 didn’t add much to the world that made the film more exciting. There was another shark terrorizing the town. That’s it. There were no interesting questions introduced nor was there anything that matched the excitement of the first film. The beats were practically identical with Brody once again killing the shark.
Jaws 3 just felt desperate and more of a cash grab than the second. The good news? It deviated from Brody’s character because his story was already done. The bad news? It was ten times worse than the previous entries and it didn’t even remotely come close to feeling like a Jaws movie. Somehow, Jaws: The Revenge was twenty times worse. Apparently, sharks have personal vendettas now. Jaws: The Revenge was an illogical mess that tried to tie back to the first movie by having a Brody name within the film, but it’s simply stupid from beginning to end. The premise is so baffling that’s it hard to even suspend your disbelief and get invested into the story or characters. I’m no shark expert, but since when do sharks carry personal grudges? Even if they did, how the hell did this specific shark know about Martin Brody’s family? Was he lurking and watching as his two friends were killed by Brody and his crew? It was a sad entry to a trilogy that should’ve ended at one. Jaws killed the franchise because none of the films provided any reasoning on why more than one film needed to exist. The first movie will always have a special place in the history books of cinema; however, the three respective sequels will only ever be remembered for being some of the worst films ever made.