Jaws 3-D (1983)

Movie Title: Jaws 3-D

Year Released: 1983

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1h 39min

Genre: Adventure, Horror, Thriller

Director: Joe Alves

Writer: Richard Matheson and Carl Gottlieb

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Simon MacCorkindale, Louis Gossett Jr., John Putch, Lea Thompson, P.H. Moriarty, Dan Blasko, Liz Morris, Harry Grant

Review: Just when you thought it was safe to go to SeaWorld... a giant thirty-five-foot shark becomes trapped within the aquatic theme park and it's up to engineer Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid), animal trainer Kathryn (Bess Armstrong), and park owner Calvin Bouchard (Louis Gossett Jr.) to stop this ferocious fish and save every human life, and sea life, from it's Jaws in 3-D!

The third time is not the charm for this floundering franchise. In 1983, the movie-going gimmick of 3-D was a huge selling point, but it couldn't even keep this shark swimming. It's poorly executed and completely takes you out of the movie whenever it is used because it's not used to enhance the story, tension, or scares, it's literally the movie's gimmick and nothing more. Oh, no! A sea monster statue's tongue is pointing right at me! Oh, no! A syringe just shot liquid at me! Oh, no! The giant shark "swimming" towards a huge control room window without moving its tail, for some reason - BAD SPECIAL EFFECTS!, and completely breaks the window and stays perfectly still while the water rushes in and it doesn't! It looks far worse than how I have described it to you. It's a shame too! The 3-D could have really made the shark even scarier, but instead it looks more like an aged pool toy that one hole away from taking a cruise to the local garbage dump.

The other big problem, and Jaws 3-D has lots of them, is that the setting is never really established. At most points in the movie you never know where the characters are or where they are going. There aren't really any establishing shots and you are never sure how a character got from one place to another or where one character is in relation to another. It takes place in a theme park, it's not that big! It's just poor direction, which comes from Jaws and Jaws 2 alum Joe Alves. He was the production designer on both films, and producer of the sequel. As a production designer, he's one of the best in film history, but as director, he leaves something to be desired.

The cast is fine, but they don't really have characters and not a lot to do. Dennis Quaid as Mike Brody, son of Chief Brody from parts one and two films, is doing what he can, but a weak script doesn't give him much, but he's handsome, funny, and has a few memorable lines to say. Bess Armstrong, as Brody's love interest and animal trainer, spends the majority of her time on screen dealing with temperamental dolphins Cindy and Sandy. Simon MacCorkindale and his assistant P.H. Moriarty seem like big game hunters turned wildlife photographers, I think. I'm not too sure. Louis Gossett Jr. as the proprietor of SeaWorld is just that and nothing more. Such a waste of his talent. John Putch plays Sean Brody, brother of Mike, son of Chief Brody. His character doesn't like the water, but he likes water skier Kelly, played by Lea Thompson, in her first movie role. She's hot and she water skis and the shark thinks she's on the menu. That's it. All boring characters.

Another weird thing is that the movie's idea of a killer shark getting trapped in an aquatic theme park is clever, original, and should make for some creative shark attacks, tartar sauce dropping terror, and a shock-a-minute story, but it's mostly a muddled mess that's confusing, boring, and almost forgets that it's a "Jaws" movie from time to time.

Oh, and the shark looks too much like a puppet most of the time. It's not scary. It's more like a big foam pad with fins and teeth on it. It does look comfortable if you snuggled up next to it. Like a memory foam pillow that wants to eat you!

Jaws 3-D is the third dimension of terrible! It not even good-bad, that's Jaws: The Revenge, aka the Great White Turd. Skip this one unless you're a die hard "Jaws" fan, like me. I know it's bad, but I can't help myself,

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: David Brown and Richard D. Zanuck, producers of the first two films, originally pitched this as a spoof, based on a suggestion by Matty Simmons and John Hughes. Titled "National Lampoon's Jaws 3, People 0", it was about a movie studio trying to make a second sequel to Jaws (1975). It opened with author Peter Benchley being eaten in his pool by a shark, and included a naked Bo Derek and shark-costumed aliens. Joe Dante was attached as director. Steven Spielberg rejected the idea and threatened to walk from his deal with Universal. When Zanuck and Brown learned of the rejection, they quit the studio.


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