*. That’s right. It was originally released as Jaws 3-D. Not Jaws 3 or Jaws III. Which puts this movie right up there with Amityville 3-D. Because 3-D was cool in 1983, don’t you know. At least Friday the 13th Part III kept its dignity. Not something I ever expected to hear myself say.
*. 3-D was (and is) a useless stunt that has almost no application in this movie (co-writer Richard Matheson: “it had no effect whatsoever. It was a waste of time”). It also does nothing to save Jaws 3-D from being a disaster of a shark flick from start to finish. Indeed, the big 3-D scenes are just laughable now, climaxing in the shark sloooooowly smashing its way into the control room (a scene that would be revisited, slightly more effectively, in Deep Blue Sea). David Brown and Richard Zanuck, producers of Jaws and Jaws 2, had thought that the only way to go with a third film was to make a spoof or parody. The studio thought otherwise, and got something worse.
*. It seems as though everyone involved tried to disown any involvement in it after the fact. I like Dennis Quaid’s defence the best. He plays Mike Brody (son of Amity police chief Martin Brody) and claims he was high on cocaine in “every frame” of the picture.
*. There was some continuity. Joe Alves, who’d been the production designer on the first two films, makes his directorial debut. Carl Gottlieb was back as a credited screenwriter, though apparently the script was the work of many hands.
*. The usual sequel inflation has taken place. This shark is now huge, a veritable whale said to be at least 35 feet and capable of swallowing grown men whole. It’s also the most lethargic shark in the series yet, making Bruce seem hyperactive in comparison. There are whole scenes where it just seems to sit in the water, scarcely moving.
*. One of the big differences between this and the previous films is that it’s got a lot more underwater action. This is not a plus. Scuba movies are usually pretty dull because people move really slowly underwater and we can’t see their faces. I thought this was one of the big strikes against Thunderball, and this movie is no Thunderball.
*. The idea here wasn’t terrible. Basically Brody’s sons have grown up, with Mike running SeaWorld, an aquatic park in Florida that the giant shark invades. The cast are a grab-bag of ill-matched toys. Louis Gossett Jr. is the park owner. Simon MacCorkindale plays some British big-game hunter who wants to take on the shark. And, well, at least they try. Though they might have saved themselves some pain and asked Dennis for a bit of blow to get them through the experience.
*. Remarkably it not only didn’t kill the franchise but actually did well at the box office. And that is the only positive thing that can be said for it (if you want to consider that a positive). This is a huge step down in quality even from Jaws 2, and a truly terrible movie. Though many believe that even worse was to come. Next up: Jaws: The Revenge.