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  • Rev Horror

Jaws 3-D

Dir. Joe Alves (1983)

A giant shark is trapped inside Sea World, and Brody's sons must fight him off.

At a certain point, you'd think the Brody family would stay the fuck away from the water. After having endured the events of Jaws and again in Jaws 2, I would become a Midwesterner overnight. I would never want to see the ocean again, and I'd view swimming pools with a healthy degree of caution. I would... probably have stopped at two films, if I'm being honest, though that's hardly on the Brody boys. Nevertheless, Hollywood enjoys making money, and the financial windfall from creating two of the most well-known shark movies in history, combined with the resurgence of 3-D filmmaking in the early 80's, opened the door for another bite out of the proverbial shark pie. While this movie is also called simply Jaws 3, I will be referring to it by its Christian name throughout the entirety of this review.

Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid) and his brother Sean (John Putch) have moved out of scenic New England to the dilapidated hellscape that is Florida, both taking jobs at Sea World Orlando. Mike contemplates marriage to killer whale biologist Kathryn (Bess Armstrong) while Sean has romantic aspirations of his own with water park skier Kelly Ann (Lea Thompson). Meanwhile, Sea World is just about to open an underwater theme park to bring visitors closer to the undersea action than ever before. After a baby Great White shark becomes trapped in the park and dies shortly thereafter, Mama shark decides to seek vengeance, which is absolutely not something that sharks do. As Sea World proceeds in launching its new park, female Bruce does her best to show that the hubris of man's attempts to overcome their physical limitations through technology and engineering will inevitably be their downfall, or at least result in a lot of them being eaten.

Before I proceed with this review, I think one fact about the production is worth discussing. Star Dennis Quaid openly admitted in an interview that he was heavily using cocaine during the filming of Jaws 3-D, and he was high in literally every scene in which he appears. It is unknown at this time exactly how much cocaine the writers were using during pre-production, but I'm guessing it was even more than Quaid was snorting. Jaws 3-D is not just one of the most egregious 3-D users in film history, it's also one of the worst, with one particular scene in which the shark breaks through glass being so horrifically terrible that it's shocking it ever made it to screen. Allegedly, the original scene was not as terrible, but this one is aggressively bad, a ClipArt shark busting through glass reminiscent of the trailer for Friday the 13th.

Jaws 3-D does not hold up to rewatch, but it's still a whole hell of a lot of fun. While I have always appreciated the Jaws series, I was always a particularly big fan of this entry. The whole concept of a shark coming for revenge and crashing through a place that I've visited many times made it especially impactful for me, and I have never once entered an underwater tube system without wondering if the events of this film were about to unfold with me in the center of the action. It's difficult to find a movie like Jaws 3-D scary, but it's impactful nonetheless, and you really can't ask for a whole lot more from a shark movie. It does, after all, have a big-ass shark, and despite a lot of the film being utter nonsense, sharks eating people will never not be fun.

That said, Jaws 3-D is missing almost everything about the previous two films that made them great. Gone is Spielberg, of course, but also nowhere to be found is the iconic score by John Williams. The film sorely yearns for a soundtrack that doesn't sound like a Hollywood castoff, as the roaring tuba (along with the other bass instruments) has become perhaps even more iconic than the other parts a film that was full of seminal sequences. As a trade-off of sorts, we get Dennis Quaid, arguably the least crazy of the Quaid brothers, Louis Gossett, Jr., and Lea Thompson, three standouts that went on to have enormous careers, and I'd like to think that Jaws 3-D is entirely responsible.

The slow buildup of the film does make it drag at times, and it's definitely the least exciting of the original three films. It's really not until the last thirty minutes of the movie that it really gets exciting, at least in comparison to the first two. It has a lot of the same moral lessons as its predecessors, and it's insane to me that someone at Sea World ok'ed their name to be used in this one, especially as Sea World management largely fills the role of the corrupt government from 1 and 2. The 3D is terrible, the acting is hammy but enjoyable, and the shark attacks are still a hell of a lot of fun, a recipe for an enjoyable movie that doesn't come anywhere close to living up to even the second film in the series. It's a clear drop off, but it's still a movie that's enjoyable enough to watch if you haven't seen it before. Now Jaws: The Revenge, on the other hand...

Who this movie is for: Jaws completionists, Shark movie fans, Porpoise appreciators

Bottom line: Jaws 3-D is a lot of fun but is clearly the worst film in the series so far. It's got more stars than the previous films, a lot of shark mayhem, and some horrifically bad 3D, but it's a great shark movie nonetheless. If you're looking for a great July 4th movie marathon, you could do a whole lot worse than the first three Jaws movies. Then again, you could do a lot better than Jaws 3-D as well. It's worth watching if just to laugh at the terrible effects that someone at Universal saw fit to include in the film.

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