Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Jaws 3-D

Cinema Monolith: 2/10 The Monolith
IMDb: 3.6/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: ** out of 4

Released on July 22, 1983
Rated PG
99 minutes

Directed by Joe Alves

Written by Richard Matheson and Carl Gottlieb

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Louis Gossett Jr, Simon MacCorkindale, Lea Thompson, John Putch, P.H. Moriarty, Don Blasko, Liz Morris, Lisa Maurer, Harry Grant, Rich Valliere, Alonzo Ward

Back in 1978, when I was 15 years old and Jaws was already my all-time favorite movie, I was of course excited about the release of Jaws 2 that summer. I was still somewhat a wide-eyed kid then, with not a lot of movie experience under my belt, and didn’t yet understand that sequels to good movies tend to stink. Five years later, I was 20 years old and a bit more movie savvy, and suddenly I wasn’t all that trusting of sequels anymore. Which is why I never bothered with Jaws 3-D until now, over three decades later, when I decided to take a chance on a viewing for this year’s Jaws Month.

And was it worth the risk? Well, not really, but tell me if this rings any bells: three disparate people—a man named Brody, a marine biologist, and a tough-as-nails shark hunter—join forces to stop a great white shark from terrorizing a small, Eastern seaboard community. The leader of this community, who’s blind to what’s happening, wants to keep tourists swarming into the locality to spend their ‘summer dollars’, even if doing so may ‘harm some bathers’. In the end, the shark is killed when a metal canister lodged inside of it detonates, sending its oversized carcass straight to the ocean floor.

Yes, it was Jaws all over again, as Dennis Quaid, playing the adult son of Amity police chief Martin Brody, must contend with another bothersome killer shark, which has set its sights on SeaWorld aquatic park in Orlando, Florida. Playing his girlfriend is Bess Armstrong, a senior biologist at the park, who butts heads with a rugged Australian adventurer over whether to kill the shark or capture it alive. Lou Gossett Jr is the SeaWorld park manager, who despite the obvious dangers wants to keep the venue open for the grand unveiling of its newest attraction, which will boost attendance, increase gate receipts, and put hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives in danger.

This film was bad, plain and simple, and only the thinnest of connecting threads—Chief Brody’s two sons as grown-up characters—kept it from joining the likes of Orca, Tentacles, and Grizzly as yet another unrelated rip-off of the original classic. The director, Joe Alves, worked on the previous two Jaws films as a production designer, but didn’t have much to offer here, and I don’t know whether to blame him or the video transfer for the dreary and grainy cinematography. The 3-D effects, now presented in flat 2-D, were even more miserable, and not helping the situation was the screenplay—co-written by Richard Matheson!—which was clumsy and too often implausible, especially where shark logic was concerned (a great white that swims backwards…and roars?).

But wait: if I thought Jaws 3-D was so horrible, then why the generous two-star rating? Well, first and foremost was the presence of a young Lea Thompson, cute and delightful in her screen debut, whose scenes alone made everything else worth sitting through. Also memorable was a shot by director Alves, showing our shark silently gliding out of the shadowy darkness towards a pair of divers working on an underwater tunnel (see the murky image below). And strangely enough, I was thoroughly captivated by the playful camaraderie and genuine fondness for each other displayed by Quaid and Armstrong, whose characters seemed to belong in an entirely different film altogether…a fun romance adventure perhaps, with the sunny shores of Tahiti as a backdrop and not a damn shark in sight.

There’s a twist that’s revealed at about the hour mark that sets Jaws 3-D apart from its predecessors, and it’s one I’m not going to spoil, in case you actually want to watch this thing, but trust me, it’s really not that big a deal. Unless you’re a fan of Miss Thompson or have a mania for shark movies, I’d say avoid this clunker at all costs. And for you Jaws completists who feel compelled to follow the series story path paved by the first two entries, I’ll offer the same advice: just don’t. Are there worse movies out there than this one? Sure…just ask anyone who’s seen Jaws: The Revenge.  (2/10)

12 comments on “Jaws 3-D

  1. Dracula
    7/22/17

    Wait, killer shark having his sights on SeaWorld Orlando? How does he get inland? Does he walk like those catfish in Florida?

    • Todd B
      7/22/17

      No, he drove: the I-95 south past Titusville, then west on the 528 straight into the lagoon at SeaWorld. Actually, I have no idea…I think the filmmakers call it ‘artistic license’.

      • dracula
        7/22/17

        I think it would have been a better story line if Jaws invaded the Disney Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando. Lots of kids in shallow water, easy access to water slides, water tube donuts on the lazy river, etc…

      • Todd B
        7/23/17

        Good idea…I’m sure one of the dozens of shark attack movies that have been released over the past several years feature a storyline similar to yours. Of course, if Disney was involved, I’m guessing the sharks would all be friendly and understanding, and would help the kids overcome their many pre-pubescent worries and fears.

    • Chris Richards
      9/10/19

      It’s explained in the beginning of the movie that they’ve built a new lagoon that’s connected to the ocean. That’s how the shark gets into the park.

      • Todd Benefiel
        9/11/19

        Thanks, Chris…I must’ve fallen asleep during that part! Still, that’s an awful long tributary from ocean to park…unless when they saw ‘Orlando’, they mean anywhere within forty miles of Orlando, which could put the park on the east coast of Florida, near Titusville or Cocoa Beach (but wait, the movie takes place at Sea World Orlando…hmmmm). Of course, I’m probably putting too much logistical thought into this than necessary!

  2. I’d have lost a fair sized wager if someone told me you had never seen this 3D bust. This one has some of the worst FX ever for a major studio production and yes, it sure didn’t help the 3D market make a comeback at the time. I don’t recall much about it but do remember some guy swallowed whole and kind of crushed inside the shark and a terrible ending for Mr. Gossett with terrible effects to match. After tonight we’ll all know whether it’s a better watch than Michael Phelps racing a great white on Shark Week which reeks of a PT Barnum and maybe even Al Capone’s lost vault hosted by Geraldo. lol.

    • Todd B
      7/24/17

      Just in case you might be thinking of making another bet, don’t: I haven’t seen Jaws: The Revenge either. And your memory serves correct about the guy being swallowed whole by the shark…an incredibly lame situation, and one that was lamely executed as well. And I wasn’t aware of Phelps racing a great white…I wonder if they shark will stay in his lane, or cross over and bite Phelps’ leg off.

      (I just watched the video of Phelps vs Shark, and believe it or not, Jaws 3-D was much more entertaining)

      • Anything had to be more entertaining then the Phelps race. Another TV bust. Hold that thought, you haven’t yet seen Jaws: The Revenge and it just might be worse. At least the Phelps race is only 38 seconds of my life. Revenge is considerably more and even lamer. DON’T DO IT! lol

      • Todd B
        7/26/17

        I am so tempted to NOT do it, but its legendary lameness beckons me! However, I’ll probably save it for next summer, when I decide whether to do another Jaws Month or not. If so…look out! Or maybe I’ll have a month of nothing but bad shark movie reviews: Jaws: The Revenge, Sharks’ Treasure, Wading Pool Shark Massacre IV, etc. But if I don’t…still, look out!

  3. Chris
    9/10/19

    This is actually one of my favorite movies, largely because I have a thing for women in wetsuits, and well, Bess Armstrong spends a couple chunks of the film wearing one, and she looks FABULOUS in it.

    One interesting thing is, they stole the ending from not just one, but two movies. It’s hard to explain without spoiling the ending, but you should see a movie called Up From The Depths, then a movie called Great White. Great White was such a blatant rip off of the first two Jaws movie (with, apparently, a little bit of Up From The Depths thrown in) that Universal got an injunction against the movie being shown in the US. But all three movies basically end the same way.

    • Todd Benefiel
      9/11/19

      I own a bunch of Roger Corman films on disc, and I thought Up from the Depths was one of them…but no! Thankfully, I just found an HD version I can watch on YouTube, so I’ll give it a look! (And I just found Great White aka The Last Shark as well).

      And my favorite aspect of Jaws 3-D was Lea Thompson, but I agree that Bess was a cutie, too. I remember her most for High Road to China, but sadly, she didn’t wear a wetsuit in that one.

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