Jaws The Revenge has a notorious reputation among movies fans. Many regard it as one of the worst movies of all time. Personally I really don’t think it’s that bad. The film is visually stunning with a lot of the action taking place in the sunny Bahamas. Michael Caine, Lance Guest and Lorraine Gary all give good performances and Michael Small’s score is creepy and sets the tone effectively. The idea of a shark seeking revenge on a family to the point where he follows them across the world is illogical, but the novelization of the film does attempt to explain this by adding a sub plot involving a witch doctor who places a curse on Michael Brody. The doctor has some sort of mystical connection to the shark which is why the shark is able to specifically target the family. I read the novelization over the weekend and was surprised at how different it was compared to the film.
In the novel there’s another sub plot not seen in the film in which Michael Caine’s character Hoagie has a run in with drug dealers who will stop at nothing to have him killed. I didn’t feel this plot was particularly necessary or interesting. It took up too much time and personally I was more interested in what the shark was up to. Michael and Jake’s relationship is different in the book with the latter not being as witty, I guess because Mario Van Pebbles brought so much to the character in the film. Michael himself is not as assertive or indeed as likable as he is in the film for some strange reason. In fact, every character feels a bit flat especially Ellen Brody. They also spend less time searching for the shark in the novel and certain sequences like the junkanoo festival and the shark chasing Michael are in a completely different place in the novel compared to the film.
I’m really mixed on the novelization. On one hand it was well written despite the additional bland sub plots which did nothing but distract from the main story, but ultimately I felt it was too long and I didn’t get as much entertainment value out of it as I did with the much maligned film version. I did like the voodoo aspects which added a chilly atmosphere to the proceedings and also the detailed descriptions of the sea and being able to hear what the shark was thinking and feeling. Regardless of how silly the general plot is, I think it is least strong enough to fill up a novel without subplots more befitting of crime books being shoved in. I do give Searls props for not rehashing what we saw on screen, though. As much as I would have wanted it to be closer to the movie version, I did like not knowing what was going to happen. I wouldn’t read it again, but it wasn’t a bad book by any means.