Jaws III (1983) Directed by Joe Alves. With Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Louis Gossett Jr, Lea Thompson, John Putch and Simon MacCorkindale.
Despite being utterly terrible, there is something oddly watch-able about Jaws III. To a large degree, I know I’m guilty of giving in to nostalgia, but I can’t help but find it oddly pass-able comfort viewing. Apart from a tenuous link to the Brody family (Dennis Quaid plays a grown-up Michael Brody) Joe Alves’s film (his only one) divorces itself from Amity Island and relocates to a fictional version of SeaWorld, complete with an ‘Underwater Kingdom’, filled with a sprawling menu of potential meals for a hungry Great White.
One of the things often said against the Jaws films, is that the shark never looked that great. I’d beg to differ, especially in the first film, however, by part III, it looks silly. It doesn’t help that the film features some of the worst 3-D in cinema history, with the shark itself reduced to a laughing-stock in terms of threat level posed. Then again, the overall film is so weak, that the crappy 3-D lends a little ‘fun-bad’ charm that allows a few giggle here and there.
The excitable young cast do their best to keep things perky, and the resort location offers a summer holiday camp feel, which adds a layer of appeal. The problem is that the plot is wafer thin and the execution is so second-rate, that when John Williams’s reproduced iconic two-note Jaws theme kicks in, you’re pining for the Spielberg classic.
This is a film that no-one seems to like, yet it gets constant TV repeats here in the UK (ITV4 screened it twice this week). Maybe we all secretly enjoy it as a throwaway 1980’s creature feature. As it was playing live, a quick glance at Twitter threw up an array of commenters, laughing at its aged aesthetic and dodgy effects. Yet, somehow, many of the comments were tinged with a nuance of affection.
In the end, Jaws III is guilty of jumping the shark. Which is an appropriate way of saying it isn’t very good. It’s also the first shark film I’ve ever seen, where I feel fairly confident that I could out-swim the shark. And I’m a rubbish swimmer. 2.5/5