Directed by Joe Alves
“The Third Dimension in Terror!”…and this dimension’s terror is extremely lame.
Five years after it was not safe to go back into the water, Universal goes to well again by telling us it is not safe to go to an aquarium park. And this time, they promise us the “Third Dimension in Terror!” The third Jaws sequel was originally supposed to be a parody sequel by the producers of the first two films, Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown entitled Jaws 3, People 0, concerning the Jaws shark thwarting another sequel from being released to the world. When Universal nixed the idea after a script was submitted by them in order to go in a more serious direction with the third Jaws movie, they quit Universal. In the aftermath, Jaws 3-D was born, using the 3-D gimmick which was scorching during that time frame.
Now at Sea World in Florida and out of Amity, Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid) is all grown up and an employee at the park along with his gal Kathryn Morgan (Bess Armstrong). The boss Calvin Bouchard is ready for the huge grand opening of the park’s newest attraction, the Undersea Kingdom, which is a giant underwater tunnel. As the attraction is about to open to the public, a shark attacks a diver repairing the gate to the park’s lagoon, which allows it to enter Sea World. So yet another great white begins to plague the Brody family.
Once they learn of the shark’s presence, seasoned photographer Calvin FitzRoyce (Simon MacCorkindale) helps Brody and crew capture the shark and try to make it into a new Sea World attraction – the first great white in captivity. But things get disastrous when the team finds out that the shark they captured is the baby and that the larger mother is loose in the park as well…just in time for opening day.
Eight years after the original when technology should be improved, Jaws 3-D contains some lackluster special effects especially where our sharks are concerned. They look worse than Brucette of Jaws 2, while the 3-D effects do not even enhance the tenaciousness of having a great white's mouth in your face a majority of the time. In fact, the best 3-D effect happens in the film’s opening moments when a half eaten fish still bobs its mouth as it drifts towards the screen. Also, the greatly hyped POV from inside the shark’s mouth is an absolute mess of a scene and its intended horror is a bit of a yawn.
The acting is hammy at best, with Quaid looking about as concerned about the whole ordeal as he would be over a mosquito bite, former Academy Award winner Gossett, Jr. trying to pull off a bad Cajun accent, Armstrong delivering her lines as if she were speaking to kids in grade school, and John Putch portraying young Sean Brody as if he is either very bored or very drunk…or both. The only saving graces are the late MacCorkindale who brings energy to his cocky character, P.H. Moriarty as FitzRoyce’s faithful sidekick Jack and a young Lea Thompson as Sean Brody’s love interest.
The best part of the film is the unintentionally hilarious ending. Not only are the effects completely laughable, the scene defies all logic and ends with abruptly without the audience learning what happened to key characters in peril. The one last chance director Joe Alves has to scare the audience leaves them either laughing or scratching their heads instead. It is a sequence that must be seen to be (under)appreciated. No wonder why Quaid, who went on to have a great Hollywood comeback, admits to being so under the influences of drugs that he doesn’t even remember being in this film.
A funny factoid about this flick is that many of the film’s elements were supposed to be a slap in the face to the creators of the Jaws ripoff, The Last Shark. Universal had previously won a court battle against Shark’s filmmakers for blatantly stealing many ideas from the first two Jaws films and thus caused their film to not be released in theaters. Just to rub the victory in their faces, Universal stole ideas from Shark and put them in Jaws 3-D. In the end, the joke was on them since The Last Shark holds an international cult appeal, and the ideas they stole from that film are reasons that Jaws 3-D sinks to the bottom of the ocean as a major motion picture.
Looks like the Zanuck and Brown’s parody would have been the best road traveled here and this dismal attempt to continue the franchise should have the cue to close it out. Instead 3-D paves the way for a "revenge" that actually is a worse Jaws sequel than this one, if that was actually possible. However, that is another awkward film to discuss on another day.
|1.5 OUT OF 5 JUMPING SHARKS|