Still waiting for Jaws: 3, People: 0

Connected by the theme of a busy tourist season interrupted by a man-eating fish, Jaws 3’s grand stupidity serves as the progenitor of bone-headed Hollywood sequels. Bizarrely created as a picturesque commercial tour of Florida’s Sea World – tied in with no sensible marketing logic – Universal’s shark flick only exists due to the studio’s (profitable) stubbornness.

Usurped only by the next sequel, Jaws 3 plays up spectacular movie nonsense. Inside the park’s hokey ’80s control room, Louis Gossett Jr.’s loopy screen-stealing performance concedes only to the scale of the computers around him. Serving as Sea World’s mastermind, his thin Calvin Bouchard character spends much of Jaws 3 seated, waiting for the mechanical shark to do something. To be fair, so does the audience.

Flushed with inane camera tricks meant to exploit the 3D format, Jaws 3 meanders around the world of marine science and employee relationships. The Brody family is implausibly involved for a third time. Mike (Dennis Quaid) and Sean (John Putch) battle their childhood shark trauma in-between rounds of flirting. Sadly, they’re not trying to hook up with the shark which would have layered additional camp value.

Bess Armstrong tries as Kay Morgan, Sea World’s go-to shark explainer, making out with Mike in her off time. When time comes, scripting finds a needless way to send her towards the now 35-footer’s maw, if only to add some form of late story drama. The eye-rolling theatricality of this sequel has no boundaries.

Being underwater, the camera sits still as the mechanical prop waves its tail, clearly unable to move forward.

If only for a different look, Jaws 3 does set more of its action underwater. The slower motion adds adequate tension to an otherwise listless slate of action. Sea World’s performers – who should serve as Jaws’ aquatic dinners – perform for the cameras in pointless cross-promotion. Not enough of them fall prey to justify their screen time.

Trapped in its technical limitations, even the shark fails to excite. Being underwater, the camera sits still as the mechanical prop waves its tail, clearly unable to move forward. Brutally poor compositing effects won’t help. Jaws 3 doesn’t escalate its standards to match even the second film, let alone the eight year-old original.

Yet, the brand of Hollywood incompetence and brazen need for profitability lends Jaws 3 a schlocky entertainment value. The asinine concept and obvious corporate schmoozing lends the crummy flick a certain entertainment value. Dennis Quaid plays straight while Gossett doesn’t, creating hilarious tonal imbalance before the finale literally explodes in idiocy. Fun, but it’s safe to go back in the water.

Jaws 3 Blu-ray screen shot 22

Video

Not much has changed for Jaws 3 through the years. The film retains its coarse, overly grimy look onto Blu-ray. Universal hasn’t given their shark sequels much attention, leaving the visual end dry of resolution. As a bonus however, the print used stays clean. Stray damage doesn’t remain.

Jaws 3’s weak mastering creates unnaturally clumpy, noisy grain and the fidelity-less images which result. Neither are appealing factors. Some contrast boosting pops up during night scenes. Black levels are unable to work despite some dense shadows. In areas where it shouldn’t be noticeable, grain lifts from the frame. Images appear buzzy and dirty. A messy encode won’t help lift Jaws 3 from a DVD-like coarseness. Upscale? It’s close.

Where detail dies, at least color remains to perk the visuals up. Primaries strike with extensive saturation, giving energy to the Sea World locales. Flesh tones lay flat, while the rest carries pizzazz. Color dims underwater expected, while noise still covers the images.

On the bonus side, Jaws 3 finally receives a 3D home video release. As with other ’80s era 3D productions (Comin’ at Ya!), aggressiveness goes beyond the comparably conservative modern 3D. Jaws 3’s title card pops forward and double is seen. Glaring spots like a needle squirting liquid onto the camera and underwater corals push too hard. At times, it’s uncomfortable.

When not trying to astound with the format, Jaws 3 uses the effect for substantial depth. Opening movement through the underwater canal ranks among the better uses of 3D on Blu-ray. It’s aquarium-like as fish pass near the camera. Indoors, fall-in effects push the limits, suggesting space which is unlikely if fully utilizing 3D. In darker scenes, some cross-talk is certain no matter the display, a fair trade-off. Note the master is the same whether in 2D or 3D.

Audio

Gifted with a DTS-HD stereo track, the front soundstage carries audio into the necessary channels. While effects are not frequently dramatic, the space pushes an admirable score from longtime composer Alan Parker. Some voices slip into the specific fronts and action feels richer than in the mono Jaws recordings of the past – not including the 5.1 mix for the original.

Plentiful ADR is notable as quality fluctuates. Some lines are brighter than others. This uncompressed track makes them obvious. While lacking pep, this track still provides enough to please.

Extras

Jaws 3D makes up the total of the bonus menu. This set-up does mean the 3D version doesn’t have a chapters menu of its own. An annoyance, but at least this version is here.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

  • Jaws 3
  • 2D Video
  • 3D Video
  • Audio

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.