Jaws 3 (1983)

Jaws 3 (1983)

Reaching new depths of terror.

A baby Great White shark is found inside in the man made lagoon of a Florida sea park. The park owner hopes to put it on display as no great white has ever survived captivity. But after the partially chewed body of one of the gate workers is found, everyone realises that there is an even bigger shark loose in the lagoon – the baby’s mother.

 

The original plan for Jaws 3 was to turn it into some sort of comedy spoof with the tag line Jaws 3: People 0. Come on, that’s infinitely more interesting than this third serving of great white mayhem which goes down as one of the worst sequels of all time and actually provides more unintentional laughs than straight comedies do altogether. The great debate is just which of the Jaws sequels is the worst and although many people choose Jaws: The Revenge for it’s laughable ‘shark out for revenge’ story and a really fake animatronic shark, I always say that Jaws 3 is the worst simply for the fact it’s just overly boring and there’s not much in the way of shark action. Jaws: The Revenge is so bad but at least it’s entertaining at times – Jaws 3 is just dull, lifeless and while it’s the better film from a technical standpoint, it fails to get the pulse racing.

The story had potential as sea parks across the world have tried and failed to keep a great white in captivity for years. Enclosing the shark in a confined area also brought about a fresh approach to the series instead of having it sea-based again. But any shred of story that the film could have had is wasted as the majority of it seems to be a poor advertisement for SeaWorld. There are plenty of scenes of dolphins jumping around, people skiing and other water-based stunts that make it look like a TV commercial.

It tries to tie itself into the Jaws timeline by having two of the males in the film portray older versions of the Brody brothers. Given that the film was clearly green lit around the concept of a shark being loose in a sea park, it seems forcefully tacked on as on afterthought. The film also falls flat on its face when it tries to create an atmosphere. You know that there’s a shark in the sea park somewhere but there’s no suspense or tension in the eventual discovery. It takes over an hour for the shark to finally start causing some havoc around the park and even then it does little apart from scare people off their skis. Before then we’ve got the dreaded character development scenes of the various actors making friends with each other, drinking and going about their daily jobs. We’re lumped with a bunch of losers though. Louis Gossett Jr, who chews the scenery up as the park owner, is the only one of the cast to even try. He knows that the film sucks so at least he’s going down with a bang and comes off looking like some rich pimp. Dennis Quaid has seen better days and was quoted in an interview once as saying “I was in Jaws what?” Clearly he knows how low down on his list of credits this was.

The shark should be the star of the show but never has it looked worse. Sharks can’t swim backwards so once the shark gets trapped in a pipe in the park then it’s had it basically. Not this shark though as it manages to squirm free by swimming backwards and out of the pipe. The next thing you know, it will stand up and walk along the beach looking for people to eat. I counted a kill total of six here and that includes the pre-credits fish we see ripped to pieces. Three of them aren’t even done on screen and the ones that are left look rather poor. Where is the thrashing around, the bloody water and the desperate underwater screams for help as we’ve seen before? There’s literally no gore at all on display here and the best we get is a chewed up corpse which looks like a remnant from a Halloween sale. In the film’s best death scene, the nephew of the park owner is snatched by the shark shortly after breaking into the control room. Cue a badly placed audio clip of the actor and a ridiculous-looking dummy being chewed up by the shark. It’s absurd and a long way from Quint’s shocking death in the original.

The shark itself looks even worse than it’s ever done and it’s hard to comprehend the fact that the effects seem to get worse from film to film as opposed to going the other way. The slow-motion shot of it ‘swimming’ towards the underwater glass screen in a torpedo-like movement is ridiculous. Looking back at this film in the current fad of 3-D, it’s easy to say that the effects look horrid. They’ve dated badly and the 3-D is clearly a tacked on gimmick with floating fish, arms, the submarine and even the shark all given the special treatment.

 

It’s hard to see how anyone could have even considered doing another sequel after this ship wreck of a film. Jaws 3 is the worst of the series by a long way and did irreparable damage to the franchise of which it’s not recovered from to this day. It is a million miles away from the quality of the original or even Jaws 2 for that matter. If only they’d have gone with the spoof.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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