Just Stop Eating and Swimming!!!: ‘Jaws 3’ Retrospective
Original Movie Poster
Third Time's the Charm...but Not Here
Jaws 1 and 2 were both good films, especially the critically acclaimed first one. Unfortunately that streak didn’t last. With the dawn of 3D technology in theaters, Universal Pictures seemed to think it was a good idea to move the franchise in the same area. Released in 1983 and directed by Joe Alves, the next installment of the horror franchise was Jaws 3-D as it was known upon its release, however the name has been changed for television and home release simply as Jaws 3.
The plot revolves around another great white shark. No longer in Amity, the setting is now in Sea World of all places. A young great white shark swims into the park and apparently murders the park employees. The shark is captured, placed in an exhibit, and dies. Afterwards the true culprit of the murders appears, a much larger shark which is the young one’s mother.
Originally the film was going to be a Jaws spoof titled Jaws 3, People 0. However, the script changed this to a full-fledged horror film, though elements of the original idea are still in it. As mentioned, it attempted to put in 3D vision. Since the gimmick doesn’t work on normal television, there are awkward moments that stand out on the television and home release versions, such as things zooming towards the front.
Dennis Quaid plays Mike Brody, the son of the protagonist from the first two films, and works at the park. Bess Armstrong plays Kay Morgan, another worker and the heroine. Louis Gossett, Jr. plays Calvin Bouchard, the head of Sea World.
John Putch plays Sean Brody, Mike's brother and minor character. Simon MacCorkindale plays Philip FitzRoyce, a shark hunter similar to Quint from the first film.
Honestly none of the characters are memorable and their performances are flat. You can’t sympathize or relate to anyone. Characters just show up every once in a while to deliver lines and disappear.
The most disappointing part of the film is the shark, at least the main one. Spoiler warning, it’s the largest of the sharks in all of the films, however it’s underused. It's mostly just a minor inconvenience. It barely attacks anyone, and only ever pokes its head out of the water once in the entire film. Whenever it appears, there is rarely anyone near it to emphasize its length. In the earlier films, the sharks appears near people and boats multiple times to give a sense of scale as to how large the sharks were. Here, the shark is mostly in separate frames from people and objects.
There’s a few subplots that either go nowhere or are completely irrelevant to the main plot. There’s a story involving two dolphins. While the dolphins do play a part in helping two characters get away from the first shark, if they were taken out afterwards then nothing else would had changed in the film. Actually the entire first shark plot could have been taken out and the rest of the film would have ended the same.
Because the film relied on the 3D gimmick there are a couple of scenes that are awkward with horrible effects. Digital body parts float in the water that turn slowly both for 3D effect and horror, which doesn’t work for either. It’s not amazing or scary. There’s a scene with a submarine, but the submarine’s bottom constantly flickers out like a bad green screen effect.
Overall, with poor effects, bad acting, forgettable music, a barely threatening antagonist, and several dead end subplots, Jaws 3 is not a recommended film. The only thing that stands out is the film’s gimmick, the 3D which can no longer be utilized. If you skip this film you’re not missing much of anything. Personally I think this is the worst film in the series, though some may argue the fourth is. But for this film, it’s not recommended for anyone.
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