It’s clear from the moment the opening credits start that something has gone very wrong with the “Jaws” franchise. Everything instantly looks cheaper as the new production team bring in a tackier, naffer aesthetic to the whole set-up. Director Joe Alves is certainly no Steven Spielberg and he’s not even a Jeannot Swarzc but then he doesn’t really get to direct this film at all – it’s directed by the producers’ insistence on the gimmickry of 3D, which compromises almost every single scene it’s applied to.
Far away from Amity Island, the sons of police chief Brody find their worst nightmare has followed them and they must save the staff and customers of SeaWorld from a Great White Shark which has taken up residence in their man-made lagoon.
In the absence of the reassuring presence of Roy Schieder, “Jaws 3-D” ups the star quotient with a list of household names, at the expense of almost every other part of the production. After all, Dennis Quaid, Lea Thompson, Louis Gosset Jr probably weren’t cheap and this is the film that employs “Manimal” himself, Simon MacKorkindale to face-off against a shark without actually giving us Manimal versus a shark. It pulls the same trick as “The Meg” in that you get not one but two sharks for your ticket money. You get quite an eyeful of the first shark, a baby, as they walk it around a shallow tank which even to this non-ichthyologist looks nowhere near large enough to contain a Great White in captivity but the movie’s quite coy about letting you see the other one. Now you might be thinking it’s to build tension as used to great effect in the original, but you’d be very very wrong. It’s because the shark is shit. Certainly a franchise-low (yes, it’s way worse than the toothy grey turd torpedo of “Jaws The Revenge”) and arguably worse than “The Last Shark” and even “Sharkenstein”.
Performance-wise it’s not too bad thanks to the experienced cast who try really, really hard with what they have to work with and there are moments which are fleetingly entertaining. The SeaWorld theme park setting is a great idea and, decked out like it was Pride Week throughout the film, provides a colourful backdrop and myriad of story opportunities the film fumbles or flat-out ignores to deliver a low-voltage retread of “The Creature From The Black Lagoon“. It’s hard not to dwell on what was lost in gaining this archetypically terrible sequel – as the original idea was to have a more definite satirical self-awareness around the whole thing with Joe Dante in the director’s seat. We came *this* close to having Dick Miller fighting a shark in a “Jaws” movie, people. Damn you, Universal!
The opening titles of the movie make the bold claim that what you’re about to watch was ‘Suggested by the novel “Jaws”’. I’ve a suggestion for you – switch this rubbish off while you still can and go read a book – any book – instead.