Adam: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.
Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino.
Jaws 2 (which I don’t love either, but it’s not Jaws 3-D bad). The characters are lifeless, the pacing sluggish, the tension missing, and the shark effects look cheaper than ever. It all combines into schlock that only can be enjoyed under specific circumstances, like in 3-D and with JB and Jan there. What are your thoughts on Jaws 3-D, Rob?
Jaws spends the time between shark attacks building characters and raising stakes, Jaws 3-D simply has characters putz around and play drinking games with Lea Thompson. That’s not the worst thing under normal circumstances, I guess, but it sucks any life out of a would-be seafaring adventure.
I kept thinking that Jaws 3 is a real “What do we got?” movie. We got the Brody brothers (sort of), we got SeaWorld, we got the British Not Aaron Eckhart guy douching it up, we got Louis Gossett Jr. fresh off an Oscar win, and we got Bess Armstrong as the Hooper stand-in scientist. Surely, stirring those ingredients into a pot will produce something of value? Wait. Can we point out how odd it is that Mike Brody is dating a girl who looks remarkably like Lorraine Gary? Whatever. The point is that new producer Alan Landsburg took the series in a cheap, mindless direction when it should have died with the original Jaws 3, People 0 spoof sequel idea famously developed by the National Lampoon team. That would have been sad and insufferable, and I guarantee I would be shitting on it if we were talking about it here, but at least it would be something different. The only exciting thing about this movie is the bit of trivia I read where Dennis Quaid confesses to being blitzed out of his mind on coke for the entire production.
Getting back to Jaws 3-D, I’m glad you pointed out the standoff game sequence where Sean Brody and Lea Thompson first meet one another by pushing each other’s hands. Even if that was a bar game in 1983, that shouldn’t be the type of thing you broadcast to the world in the form of cinema. Other gems are the dumb corral stealers who are something out of a Saturday Morning Cartoon, the crazy mix of real shark footage with a mechanical shark that can barely move or change from its fixed position, and that nuts final shot of Bess Armstrong holding her arms in the air as two leaping dolphins bookend her and Dennis Quaid. I’m already sputtering out on things to say about Jaws 3-D, so I’ll ask you a couple of tough questions next:
-Who is your favorite character in the film?
-What is most responsible for the shark not being scary? The design, how it’s shot, or the situations that are written requiring the shark(s)?
As for the shark, it’s not scary for the exact reason the shark in Jaws was scary. It’s photographed with absolutely zero style or energy. It appears director Joe Alves (production designer on Jaws and second unit director on Jaws 2) knew better than to attempt anything resembling the scale or pacing of the action in those movies, likely because they wanted to avoid those well-storied mechanical problems. But boy, does it take a toll on the audience. The one interesting bit of shark action might be the diver/grenade gag which, while clearly backward-engineered, offered us a look inside the shark’s mouth for the first time. So, that’s something. Right? I kept imagining everyone saying, “Yeah, we’ve never seen this before. This is new ground being broken in the Jaws universe. We can talk about this on The Tonight Show to get everyone excited.”
It’s almost as if the SeaWorld complex/control room stuff was designed to take the pressure off location shooting or character work and push all the narrative weight to the set pieces. But why should we care? Brody and Dr. Morgan work there, sure, but what else is there for them to learn from this? Isn’t Sean the one with fear of the water? They don’t even bother with anything like that for Mike. I suppose he’s afraid his girl will dump him once they go long distance? She seemed pretty ride-or-die, though. Remember Robert Shaw?
Rob: There’s nothing good about these 3-D effects in 2-D. Everything is flat, awkward, and left to go on for far too long. Worst of all was that slow-motion shot of the shark approaching the glass. Remember those books you had a kid where you put the decals of superheroes and dinosaurs on backgrounds and whatnot to create a little scene? They never scaled properly, but you could always peel them off and move them around. That’s what the shark looked like against the water in that scene. It was incredible.
What do you think of the series’ continued reliance on the Brody family? Is there another version of Jaws 3 you’d have rather seen?
Adam: I think you could make a good shark in a theme park movie. Part of the problem with the theme park in Jaws 3-D is that they use it in such a limited fashion. Especially for a 3-D gimmick movie like this one, why not go completely loony and have the shark get into more shenanigans around the park? It’s like they had this control room set and were unreasonably impressed with it. It feels like the entire second half of the movie is set there. As for the Brody reliance, it’s just dumb because it’s barely recognized in Jaws 3-D except by name. The filmmakers have no interest in the characters, so why not write new ones that they are interested in?
Let’s talk 3-D again for a second. I’m guessing you’re not a huge fan because most people aren’t, but if you had to choose a best 3-D movie experience what would it be?
A lot of people have made 3-D home viewing a niche attraction and defend it pretty adamantly. I appreciate that, of course (everyone has the right to their kinks), but I honestly don’t understand how you’d prefer that over traditional viewing. More 3-D Blus for them, though, right?
Adam: Right. So, we have to get to Jaws: The Revenge soon. Looking forward to that? It’s godawful, but I have a sliver of affection for it because it was the first Jaws movie I ever saw. More on that later. For now, though, Mark Off for Jaws 3-D.
Rob: Agreed. I want to get a copy of the novelization and read it before we talk Jaws: The Revenge. Legend has it that there is some bonkers shit going on in that book. First thing’s first, though: Next week will be a very special Reserved Seating.
Adam: We’ll do our annual Philadelphia trip report from the Monster Mania convention and maybe a brief review of a new release should we see anything in theaters. It’ll be fun. Come with us vicariously!
Rob: Or physically! We can meet you in Jersey! Until next time…
Adam: These seats are reserved.