Jaws 3-D (1983)

*. 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.

30 thoughts on “Jaws 3-D (1983)

      1. Alex Good Post author

        That’s only because you’re not wearing 3-D glasses. Kind of hard to fully appreciate how amazing the effects in that scene are without the right equipment.

      2. Alex Good Post author

        The scene in DBS was stupid in a different way. Hard to understand how the shark was throwing the guy at the glass hard enough to break it. But those were genius sharks, so you have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

      3. fragglerocking

        I’m almost tempted to watch it, I need a good laugh, but 3D specs are a bit pricey for one movie and I can live without 3D. That bit where it crashes through the glass, and the explosive red dye with pieces of bone though, class. Still laughing thinking about it.

    1. Alex Good

      The explanation of the “revenge” in Jaws: The Revenge is a bit ambiguous. I think it mainly refers to the revenge of Ellen Brody, but it doesn’t really work. More anon!

  1. Bookstooge

    One of the actors was snorting cocaine the whole movie? And admits it? And parents let their kids WATCH these movies?

    SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    How could this movie do well? It sounds horrible.

    1. Alex Good

      Well, he’s not snorting coke on screen.
      In 1983 3-D was a big selling point. Plus it had the Jaws brand name. Even so, it still should have bombed. But people were stupid back then. I know. I was there.


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