Jaws 2 Soundtrack Review: this is a review of the film score Jaws 2 by John Williams.
At a glance:
Geek Score: 96.7
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 41
Album Excellence: 80.3%
After the massive success of Jaws, both with the critics and the public, naturally everyone wanted Jaws 2. Steven Spielberg didn’t return in the director’s chair. Instead Jeannot Szwarc was hired for the 1978 sequel. They got Roy Scheider and Lorraine Gary to return and they basically played on the success of the first movie. There’s a second wave of shark attacks and police chief Brody once again has to come to the rescue of Amity’s citizens. I never got to see this movie, so I have no idea if it’s good or not, but for us soundtrack fans, there is one important thing and that is the return of composer John Williams to do the music for Jaws 2. Maybe it was somewhat surprising seeming that Spielberg wasn’t involved anymore, but they managed to get Williams and that was a huge thing at the time and still is. Sadly, the album situation is bit worse with no “definitive” edition out. There has been rumours for many years, but nothing has materialised. Maybe something for the movie’s 40th anniversary coming up in 2018? In any case, this score is frequently asked for by soundtrack fans all over the world and if it does come, it will be a big seller for whichever label gets their hand on this little gem. For now we only have the original MCA Records LP from 1978 and Varese Sarabande’s CD release in 1990, both filling about 40 minutes on the CD. This score is part of Big J’s Sunday.
With John Williams returning, it means the return of the amazing main theme from Jaws. ‘Finding The Orca (Main Title)’ doesn’t start with it though, but instead has a very dramatic intro culminating into the Jaws theme at 2:16. Is it me or does the music has some elements of Superman in there? There’s a little motif at 1:45 that sounds a bit.. familiar. Superman did come about the same year so who knows if Johnny “borrowed” a bit between the scores. Well, anyway, back to the Jaws theme which is far more “crazy” this time around, like a wild variation of the theme which we only get a hint of. ‘The Menu’ is Williams using the comedic march approach and reminds me a bit of the villain theme from Superman, but only a bit. It’s a theme of its own and it’s pretty good. ‘Ballet For Divers’ is exactly that, a ballet, and it’s at this point you realise that this isn’t just another Jaws. It is it’s own product with it’s own feel and sound, which is great. ‘Ballet For Divers’ is quite upbeat, but it does have an ominous darker side to it as well. A lovely cue. It takes off into an action sequence from 2:19 and even has a phaser effect from star Trek. Crazy stuff, but great.
‘The Water Kite Sequence’ has the best use of the Jaws theme so far, and although the strings on top is playing something else, there’s the two note bass buried in the underscore. It’s lurking, it’s coming, nowhere to escape. In ‘Brody Misunderstood’ there’s a good theme at around 1:53, an optimistic one. Other than that is’s a decent cue, not a scary one, but a rather somber piece of music. ‘The Catamaran Race’ is a fun one, a very uplifting and playful piece of music. It has a great theme too, very catchy. This is Williams in his “magic” fun mode, where he just for the fun of it creates a small symphony that sounds really simple, but it actually very complex. ‘Attack On The Helicopter’ is another fast and furious action track, very exciting and fun. ‘The Open Sea’ sounds like something out of John Williams’ Harry Potter scores or perhaps Hook, a very adventurous, magical and fun “ride”. It’s brilliant and my favourite cue of the score. ‘Fire Aboard And Eddies Death’ is another action cue, this time using a variation of the Jaws theme. This is the best action cue on the score, brilliant and fun. I think that the action sounds better in Jaws 2 than in the original, because it’s not too reliant on the Jaws theme, but mostly because Williams is really going gung-ho on the orchestration and instruments here. The rules are out the window, it’s frantic, crazy even. Another example of that in part is ‘Attack On The Water Skier’. The end title is lovely, and a theme on it’s own. ‘End Title, End Cast’ brings a final magical look at what has been and it does so with another great theme by John Williams. The big “finale” at 1:35, the pompous over-the-top heroics, I love it. Superb! Then the final piece of music starts at 2:25 and it’s a celebratory piece of music, festive and awesome.
It is clear that Jaws 2 is a different beast than the original, musically. There’s a lot more on show here. The main theme from Jaws is here, but it’s used very sparsely. The rest of the music is suspense and fun, a more complex score overall than the original Jaws. Which do I prefer? I don’t know. It’s like choosing between the original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. Yeah, I can’t choose. They are both great score. Which one do you prefer?
UPDATED: Updated the highlights list and final score after having listened to Intrada Records excellent expansion of Jaws 2.
1. Jaws 2 – Main Title
2. The Shark Prowls
4. The Water Kite *
5. The Water Skier / Fire On Board
6. Catching The Cable
7. Brody’s Thoughts / The Charred Body
8. The Menu (Film Version)
9. Brody Misunderstood (Film Version)
11. More Boating
12. Ballet For Divers
13. Boats In Danger *
14. Eddie’s Death
15. The Open Sea (Film Version)
16. Rescue Party
17. Sinking The Catamaran *
18. The Big Bite
20. Munching The Helicopter
21. Sean’s Rescue
24. End Title / End Credits