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Soundtrack review: Jaws – the revenge (Michael Small – 1985, 2015)

jaws-the-revenge

I imagine it is hard for a composer to come and work on a franchise after John Williams wrote one of his most famous themes ever for it. “Jaws” remains one of the most iconic themes in film music history with that menacing “dum dum dum dum” coming at you like a shark’s fin. Williams wrote the first two scores and by the time the fourth movie came out it was time for Michael Small to step in. Unfortunately for him after the score was written it was completely cut and reshaped and reshuffled by the producers in order to fit the movie so I guess it was a mess. Lucky for us, Intrada released a special edition after gaining access to the complete recordings.

“Main title” incorporates John William’s theme and makes it even more menacing. I have to admit I actually like this version more than the original because of how raw and aggressive it sounds. It just has an extra edge that works for me. “Sean attacked” is for one of the most brutal scenes of the franchise and you can tell. These first two cues were a one two that made me feel the danger and drama right in my stomach.

“Fight to the Bahamas” has a very nice James Bond feel to it. I instantly imagine the score for a Timothy Dalton Bond movie with all the scenery and the travelling. This piece just had that mix of joy and adventure that’s so common in those movies.

The cues on “Jaws: The revenge” are short so I suggest a gapless listen. It makes the listening experience more cohesive and the tracks blend into each other beautifully. I wouldn’t have enjoyed this as much had I heard it interrupted every minute or so. The score is pleasant to hear but midway through I wish the danger was more present. I love the parts where the main theme returns or cues like “Tagging the Conchs” because they make me feel something. I am a little unsure about the happier pieces. They sound very good and the orchestra is lively and delivers but I don’t feel the connection with the movie, or with a movie. There’s no Jaws in there. It’s just nice music. Maybe I should have listened to the other Jaws scores before.

Of course when I hear a cue like “Saying goodnight” I don’t even care about the connection with the movie anymore. I just love it. “Runaway Bay” must be some source music for a resort that features in the movie because it doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the score. It’s just enjoyable island music.

I notice and appreciate the small 80s synth inserts like the ones in “Shark takes bait”, “Alright Mr…Fish” or “Michael at mirror”. They are mere moments but they resonate with me and my favorite period. There’s also a short chiming motif which recurs in a lot of cues and it somehow reminds me of the score for “Neverending story”.

“Michael attacked by shark” is the kind of cue I would like to have heard more of in this score. From then on the score seems to pick up for me with a very fitting suspenseful mood. “Moray eel” almost scares me and there are some background sounds in there which enhance the experience. “Banana boat” gets even better. This is the spirit of “Jaws”, this is what I came here for. Awesome track! “Michael runs for help” keeps the momentum. This second half of the score is simply brilliant. I guess it’s the climax of the movie and it keeps me on the edge of my seat. The music is gripping and tense and I am invested in it. A sweeping orchestral cue like “Plane buzzes shark” makes me happy. This is what action music is all about. Now I can feel everything the boats, the ocean, the sharks, the danger.

This final part of “Jaws: the revenge” is a stunning finish for a score. I don’t ever remember what I was frowning about in the beginning. This string of awesome cues makes me just want to thank Intrada for going through the trouble of putting this release together. It would have been a shamed to be deprived of what is film music at its best.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 21 / 51

Album excellence: 40%

Highlights:

Main Title

Sean Attacked

Michael Attacked By Shark

Moray Eel

Banana Boat

Ellen Goes Out To Sea

Michael Runs For Help

Plane Buzzes Shark

Is Hoagie Dead

Killing Of Jake

End credits

Shark Attacks Jake In Sled

Banana Boat

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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