The only thing that I knew going in about Jaws 3 was that it was originally in 3-D. That means I had the great pleasure of watching a movie that was intended for old school 3-D viewing but had been turned into a standard movie. So lots of things coming towards the camera and shots where an item or person looks weirdly superimposed on the screen because they could quite wash the stink of the gimmick off of it. To my great surprise, the movie also happened to take place at Sea World in Florida.
While this movie was only released about 5 years after Jaws 2, it follows the now fully adult sons of Sheriff Brody from the first movies. Michael (Dennis Quaid) works at Sea World as head of construction and his brother Sean is visiting him. Sean is still traumatized by the events of the previous movie but Michael doesn’t really seem to have been affected at all. A great white shark gets into the lagoon and we once again see how greed fucks everything but instead of needing to shut down a beach it’s just shutting down a park. There’s also a couple of British…cameramen? Adventurers? I honestly have no idea what’s going on with them but the park owner (Louis Gossett Jr.) sure seems to be treating them as VIPs. We also get a fake out shark in this one with the reveal of the big mamma later on.
One thing I’ll say for the film is that it finally treats a shark like an animal instead of a monster, at least in the beginning. They have an entire plan on how to tranquilize it and get it into captivity and all around act like the marine specialists they are supposed to be. Of course that’s just for the baby shark and when momma shows up, everybody loses they gotdamn minds and everything goes directly to shit. It’s surprising that Sea World would let the film base the story in one of their parks. I know that it’s free publicity for them but the entire movie is about how unsafe it is and how the owner makes shitty decisions and what not. I mean we didn’t even get a Shamu vs. Jaws scene, which is the only reason to have your movie at Sea World. In my humble opinion.
The main failing of the movie would be, rather than the 3-D gimmick, that the plot doesn’t really focus on anything and that a lot of the things it presents don’t have any sort of pay-off. A lot of the plot is given over to Sean having a burgeoning romance with Kelly (Lea Thompson), a water skier at the park. There are a lot of scenes about her trying to get him to overcome his fear of the water and the two of them get a bunch of screen time. Then when the big shark attacks, Kelly gets hurt and both her and Sean ride off to the hospital never to be seen again. Sean’s phobia, Kelly’s water skiing, the events of the previous film; none of this has any bearing on how the film plays out. At least the British guys exist so that the shark will have a convenient grenade stuck in its mouth at the end of the movie that our hero can use to blow shark chunks toward the screen.
You can really start to see the slow decent into mediocrity after watching both Jaws 2 and 3. Even the star power couldn’t save a meandering script with a group of mostly pointless characters. I’d give the movie a 2.5 out of 5. It’s still interesting enough to watch but these sequels are getting worse.