Terrorized by puppets and stock footage.
Remember Spinal Tap’s album, Shark Sandwich and its two-word review? “Shit sandwich.”
The JAWS franchise reminds me of the PLANET OF THE APES franchise: a stellar opening film that should have remained un-sequeled, but upon box office denoting inevitable sequels, each successive sequel granted less and less funding and talent until the franchise, concept and the films themselves became lurid blobs of crap.
JAWS 3 is one such lurid blob of crap. A shit sandwich, if you will.
The story is passable: a Sea World fun park is infiltrated by a great white shark, the owners capturing it and then discovering its gigantic plastic, roaring mother is somewhere in the enclosure and about to go ape on them.
Dennis Quaid and Bess Armstrong give new meaning to vapid; he’s the park designer and eldest son of Police Chief Brody from Amity Island (oh, Roy Scheider, where art thou?) and she’s his girl and head curator. Luscious Lea Thompson (before her primo role in BACK TO THE FUTURE) is paired with beige John Putch, playing Brody’s youngest son with the stylings of a showroom dummy; Lou Gossett Jr. is the overacting park CEO and Simon McCorkindale pretends to be a scientist or something.
There are two precocious dolphins, some wildly untalented extras stuck in an underwater tunnel; there is P.H. Moriarty in a small innocuous role (he would scare us barmy as Hatchet Harry in LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, 1998), and there’s even a killer whale named Shamu. (How come every Sea World has a killer whale named Shamu?)
Keep in mind that JAWS 3 was specifically made as a 3D presentation, and was not funded enough to re-edit a 2D version, so there are still innumerable inane shots that pander to things-coming-at-you-from-the-screen: an arm, an eel, coral, a speargun. More annoying than wearing those 3D glasses. On a side note, 3D televisions are coming into domestic use even as we laugh at JAWS 3 – so in retaining all its ludicrous 3D footage, will this film one day be in high vogue? Those filmmakers – real cinema sharks.
Most unbelievable 3D shot is the climactic scene where mother shark breaks through the control room glass (‘unbelievable’ as in we cannot believe that any filmmaker would allow this shot in a movie unless they planned career suicide).
Well, maybe we’ll get to see Dennis Quaid’s six-pack or Lea Thompson’s two smoothies. That’s a negative on all eight sights.
Director Joe Alves was the production designer on the incomparable JAWS and lesser JAWS 2 (which now looks like CITIZEN KANE next to JAWS 3). How does that saying go: ‘Don’t quit your day job’? Which makes it a wonder that JAWS 3 boasts such an amateurish production design; but it does explain why the movie is an editing laughingstock, as Alves and his TV editor Corky Ehlers try to marry stock footage of sharks in the open sea to the plastic, roaring puppet that creases on impact when chasing our heroes.
When mother shark explodes at the end, its pieces fly at the 3D screen, including pieces of flesh and liver, jawbones and intestines. Time for some shark sandwich, Shamu!