JAWS 3D

THREE GUYS AND… A MOVIE

series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson

“JAWS 3D”

written by Dominick Cappello

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POSITIVE:

The third dimension is terror… This second sequel to “Jaws” (1975) was produced by Alan Lansburg and took the series in a new direction. Instead of Amity Island, a 35-foot great white shark invades Sea World. Perhaps the screenplay was inspired by “Revenge of the Creature” (1955)? The film which saw the Gill-Man also terrorizing an aquatic themed amusement park. This was the first “Jaws” film not to be scored by John Williams. Instead, the music was by Alan Parker, who did a fair job. But, when the first scene has Lea Thompson, the hot mom from “Back to the Future” (1985) in a bikini, you may not be paying much attention to the music.

The shark follows jet-skiers into the park and gets caught in a sea gate. Louis Gossett, Jr. plays Calvin Bouchard, the debonair manager of the park. Just like the mayor in the first two films, he will put innocent lives at risk to turn a profit. Dennis Quaid plays Michael Brody, the son of Roy Scheider’s character and the park’s chief engineer. His love interest is Kay, a marine biologist played by Bess Armstrong. Calvin is elated because he’s arranged for Phillip FitzRoyce, an adventurer played by Simon MacCorkindale, to make a personal appearance at the park on opening day.

John Putch plays Sean Brody, Michael’s younger bother who was traumatized by the shark attack years prior, so he goes to school in the mid-west to avoid the ocean. Michael orders one of his underlings to fix the sea gate, but the man is never seen again. While the Brody brothers are out on a double date, the shark provides a public service by killing two coral poachers. Just like in the original film, we don’t see much of the shark early on, but we do get to see Lea Thompson in her bra and panties. If that wasn’t good enough, she puts on a cowboy hat. Nice. It’s like a “Friday the 13th” movie. A nice combination of sex and violence.

Michael and Kay search for the missing employee in a mini-submarine. They are attacked by a 10-foot great white shark, but are saved by two dolphins. FitzRoyce wants to kill the shark on camera for his next TV special, but Kay convinces Calvin that it would better to capture the shark alive, which they do, but the shark dies shortly after being put on display for the visitors. Surprisingly, the filmmakers did a nice job of making the audience feel sorry for the shark.

The horribly mutilated body of the employee is finally discovered. It’s actually funny in morbid way how a girl in an underwater tunnel gets her face pressed up against the glass with the dead body on the other side. Because of the large bite radius, Kay determines that the mother of the dead great white shark is still loose in the park. On cue, the 35-footer goes on a rampage and Lea Thompson is injured, so she’s not in the movie anymore. Bummer.

Visitors are trapped inside the underwater tunnel, which is flooding as a result of damage caused by the shark, so a plan is devised to rescue them while avoiding the shark. FitzRoyce uses himself as bait to lure the shark away from Michael, who secures the tunnel, but FitzRoyce gets eaten after his safety line snaps. Luckily, he gets stuck in shark’s throat with a hand grenade. The people in the tunnel are rescued, but the shark smashes its way into the underwater command center. Michael uses a hook to pull the pin out of the grenade and shark is blown to pieces. Michael and Kay then swim to surface and are reunited with their loyal dolphin friends.

I know this film doesn’t measure up to the first film in the series or even part two, but it really needs to viewed as a fun “B” movie. When “Jaws: The Revenge” (1987) was released, it totally ignored the events of this film, which is ironic as that was the worst entry in the series by far.

– Dr. Jelly

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INDIFFERENT:

The producers of the first two films in the series, Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown, intended for the third entry to be a comedy in the spirit of “Airplane!” (1980) since they knew that they could never top the original film. Their title was “Jaws 3, People 0,” which would have been tremendous. Oh well. It’s interesting how Stephen Spielberg was strongly against the idea of making it a comedy when he himself spoofed the skinny-dipping scene from “Jaws” in one of his worst films, “1941” (1979). The “Jaws 3” that audiences got instead was a movie that continued the decline in quality, but wasn’t yet scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I have mixed feelings about Michael Brody being the protagonist. Sure, it’s an incredible coincidence for the son of Chief Brody to cross paths with another homicidal great white shark, but if there was no link to the previous films, then this would be no different than any other “Jaws” knockoff like “The Last Shark” (1981) with James Franciscus.

This film was released during a short-lived 3-D resurgence along with “Friday the 13th, Part III” (1982) and Amityville 3-D (1983). As was the case in the early 1980s, only the third entry in a movie franchise should be in 3-D. Nowadays, every sequel is in 3-D. “Resident Evil: Afterlife” (2010) was in 3-D even though it was the fourth movie. Sorry, Paul W.S. Anderson, but if you didn’t make part three in 3-D, then you missed your chance.

“Jaws 3-D” was the first pairing of Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr., who would then co-star in Wolfgang Petersen’s “Enemy Mine” (1985) as adversaries in an intergalactic conflict, who then become bosom buddies. However, Dennis Quaid didn’t return for the “Jaws: The Revenge.” Michael Brody was played by Lance “The Last Starfighter” Guest, but his characterization was wholly different. “Jaws 3-D” was no longer considered cannon. At least Simon MacCorkindale paid tribute to the “Jaws” franchise in his short-lived TV series “Manimal” (1983). You haven’t heard of that show? Well, then I guess that you’re not as hip as I had assumed. John C. Reilly referenced it in “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006).

Oh, and that hypothetical marine biologist character I created for “Jaws 2” could have easily been incorporated into this film as the mentor of Bess Armstrong’s character. But, I wouldn’t sully the good name of this figment of my imagination by dumping him in part four of this series. It was “Jaws: The Revenge” that really killed the franchise despite having a cool intro set at Christmas time, so people should cut “Jaws 3-D” some slack. I will admit that the 3-D effects were a bust. If they weren’t, then this film would have a better reputation. But, watch “Jaws: The Revenge” and this film will seem like a masterpiece in retrospect. Neither myself nor my colleagues will ever have the courage to review “Jaws: The Revenge,” but trust me, it’s atrociously bad with a laughable plot and even worse special effects.

I would have liked to seen the “Jaws” franchise continue on for at least one more film. The late 1980s and early 1990s was the era of “Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan” (1989) and “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” (1990), which saw the titular creatures terrorizing an office building in the Big Apple. Monsters invading New York City were all the rage at the time when it came to sequels. So, why wasn’t there a “Jaws 5” with a shark going on a feeding frenzy in the East River? That’s not as far fetched of a concept as it sounds. Peter Benchley’s original novel was loosely based on the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916, the final of which was in Matawan Creek, not too far from Staten Island, one of the five boroughs that comprise New York City, and the fictional Amity Island from the first two films in the series was meant to be part of Long Island. But, just like “Jaws 3-D,” maybe “Jaws vs. New York” is a notion that only looks good on paper.

– Dr. Rochester

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NEGATIVE:

And I thought “Jaws 2” (1978) was stink-bomb. This film opens with the shark biting a fish in half. Then, the fish head floats in front of the camera for 28 seconds. The longest 28 seconds of my life. Was the hell was the point of that? Was it suppose to be scary? Did it look cool in 3-D? Probably not, but it looks even worse in 2-D. The opening credits say that this film was “suggested” by Peter Benchley’s original novel, so that means we are watching a bastardization. This film was directed by Joe Alves, who was a production designer for the first film in the series. So, since this guy once got Stephen Spielberg a cup of coffee, that qualifies him to be a director?

Two of the main characters are dolphins named Cindy and Sandy. Dolphins? Really? Unfortunately, the shark does not eat the dolphins. Shamoo, Sea World’s famous killer whale mascot, only makes a cameo. What a diva. The first kill exemplifies what is wrong with the film. The buildup is well done. But, just as you’re getting creeped out, the guy is eaten and another awkward 3-D shot is thrown in of the guy’s severed arm floating in the water for 10 seconds. It wasn’t as bad as the fish head, but still lousy.

Why does Dennis Quaid have to playing the son of Chief Brody? I assume that the reason for setting the film at Sea World was for it to be a brand new adventure and not another retread, so why is the Brody family even involved? This film inadvertently set a precedent for the even crappier “Jaws: The Revenge,” which established that all sharks have a personal grudge against this one particular family.

When Michael and Kay are in the mini-submarine, the effect looks like shit. The submarine is transparent from certain angles. They are attacked by a baby shark and just like “Jaws 2,” the animatronic bends and the blooper was left in the film. Afterwards, Michael asks “What the hell was that?” I’m sorry, but isn’t this the third time in your life that you’ve been attacked by a shark? How the hell do you not know what a shark is by now?

So, they capture the baby shark in an incredible boring scene, then it dies for no apparent reason. Isn’t the death of a shark in “Jaws” movie suppose to be a triumphant moment? Or is this one of those lame movies with a hokey “Avatar” (2009) message about humans being the real monsters? The only thing worse than the 3-D effects is the insipid animatronic 35-foot shark. During pre-production for the original film, the filmmakers decided that a 15-foot shark wasn’t impressive enough and that a 35-foot shark was too big, so they settled on a 25-footer. Showing how incompetent Joe Alves is, he went with the ridiculously big 35-footer for this film. Why stop there? Why not have it be 75-foot long prehistoric megalodon?

By the time Michael and FitzRoyce try to save the people in the tunnel, I’ve completely lost interest. I don’t care about them. I don’t care about the shark. I don’t care about anything. I’m just pissed because someone got paid to make this movie. This actually makes “Jurassic Park III” (2001) look like “The Godfather Part 2” (1974). FitzRoyce gets eaten and his weird assistant / man servant, played by P.H. Moriarty, has an unintentionally hysterical emotional breakdown. If they thought that the audience would find FitzRoyce as badass as Quint, they were sadly mistaken.

Just when you think that this movie couldn’t get any worse, the shark floats slowly, and I mean slowly, towards the camera and turns into a still shot as it smashes into the command center and water rushes inside. I can’t imagine that this scene looked any better in 3-D. The shark politely nudges the white people out of the way and eats a minority. WTF? Michael blows the shark to smithereens and its jaws fly towards the camera. Get it? Jaws? Yeah, kiss my ass, movie.

Michael and Kay swim to the surface and are greeting by the dolphins. Well, who cares about all the people who got gobbled up as long as the majestic dolphins are okay. I’ll sleep better tonight. “Jaws 3-D” blows. It’s only claim to fame is being slightly less abysmal than the next entry in the series. It will come as no surprise to learn that Joe Alves never directed anything else.

– Dr. Frisbee

Author: Marvin Mercer

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