Impulse buys are a helluva thing. Sometimes they can yield fantastic and surprising results, making you pat yourself on the back and glad you spent that twenty dollars on a new Blu-ray. Of course, the opposite is also true, usually more often than not, and you end up beating yourself over the head and cursing yourself for even walking through the doors of Best Buy. In the case of Jaws 3 (aka: Jaws 3D), I feel like I fall somewhere in the middle on this particular impulse buying session. The reason for this particular lapse in judgement was due to my sickening fascination of seeing Jaws 3 in its original 3D form, offered for the first time on home video only recently this year by Universal Studios. I know what you’re all asking, was it worth it? Well…….ehhh.
Jaws 3 is one of those sequels that was just made for the money, despite what any of the filmmakers involved will tell you. It’s an entire movie made on the gimmick of 3D technology, and while the movie at least does these things relatively well (at least as far as gimmicky 3D movies of yesteryear did – but more on that in a moment) the story, the acting, and pretty much everything else is horrible, and not quite in the “So Bad It’s Good” way. It gets close to this infamous moniker, but it’s the pacing and long stretches of boring scenes that are shot in next to no light that hinder any enjoyment you might get in just laughing at how bad the film is.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story I’ll fill you in quickly (don’t worry, there ain’t much here); a great white shark’s baby accidently wanders into SeaWorld after going through a gate that connects to the open ocean. Some deaths occur and the park employees, led by Mike Brody (son to Martin Brody from the original film, and played by Dennis Quaid; the non-crazy Quaid brother) end up capturing the ten foot shark and attempt to put it on display in order to get more park attendance. Ultimately, the shark ends up dying in captivity and the attraction is shut down, but not before the baby’s angry mother finds its way into the park in search of its young – que more poorly done shark effects and SeaWorld shenanigans. Now, this isn’t the worst plot for a monster movie I’ve ever seen, and in fairness it isn’t all that different than the story in the original film (a shark eats people, causes problems for a town, or in this case, a theme park), it’s just the third rate effects and piss poor acting that sinks this one. As I said before, the only real reason this movie was made was for the money, and what guaranteed that box office gold? In your Face 3D, that’s what!!!!!
Released in the early 80s and right at the height of 3D’s first big resurgence, Jaws 3 does what pretty much every other 3D movie of the era did; throw stuff in your face frequently and with whatever they could possibly find that’s pointy or might make you flinch. We’re talking leaping frogs, syringes with the liquid squirting out, severed fish heads and human arms, and of course…SLOW! MOVING!! SHARKS!!! Laughed at for years as one of the fakest looking movie monsters ever made (no doubt the source for the “shark still looks fake” joke in Back to the Future Part II), the Mother shark still looks bad in three dimensions, but not quite as bad as when you watched it on late night cable in 2D back in the day. Yes, it’s still slow and it barely moves, but at least it’s a slow moving object that comes out of the screen. I never thought I’d say this, but this is very much a movie that should be viewed in 3D. it makes sense really, the entire movie was built around this gimmick, so of course all of its effects and moments are framed around this device. When you watch it in 2D almost nothing plays as it’s supposed to. Not that the 3D makes the movie itself any better, it’s just a little more enjoyable to see the gimmicks in their natural state.
I guess the ultimate question is whether or not it’s worth it to drop ten bucks on a movie that you probably never enjoyed just to see some stuff come at your face in 3D. The answer? Ehhhhhhh. If you’re one of the few who genuinely liked Jaws 3, than there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t drop what you’re doing right now and order this Blu-ray. But, if you don’t care about 3D and thought that the shark looked like a slow moving white turd, then there isn’t going to be anything here that’ll change your mind.
Wow…I never thought I’d spend that much time writing about Jaws 3 in my life.
THE VIDEO – 2D: 6/10, 3D: 6.5/10
This turned out to be one of the more tricky scores I’ve ever had to give. On one hand, the 3D effects come across well, with not a whole lot of cross talk. There were several instances where I actually flinched in my seat. But, on the other hand, as I mentioned before, there are several scenes that are shot in little to no light, which result in images that are bathed in heavy film grain and ultimately give you a headache. In Universal’s defense, it doesn’t appear that they applied their usual egregious amount of edge enhancement and completely wiped the image clean of any grain and, as a result, detail. There were actually a few instances where I was moderately surprised at how clean the image looked, but unfortunately, these instances are pretty far and between.
On the 2D front, we get pretty much the same story, only without the aid of the fun 3D effects. Dark scenes are still horrid looking and lack detail, and the moments that are supposed to play in 3D just look blurry. My advice, stick with the 3D version, as it was meant to be seen.
THE AUDIO – 7/10
While it’s a little disappointing that Universal didn’t opt for a full 5.1 surround track, the DTS-HD 2.0 audio offered on the Blu-ray is more than adequate. There’s a decent amount of bass, the musical score comes through ok, and dialogue is clear and positioned in the center channel. Nothing amazing here, just a perfectly serviceable stereo mix for an old 80s title.
THE SPECIAL FEATURES – 3D/10
The lone special feature on the disc, other than the Theatrical Trailer (which, in truth, was as entertaining as anything in the movie itself) is listed as “Jaws 3 in 3D!” It seems a bit odd that this was listed as a special feature and not just one of the two viewing options for the film, but hey, at least the 3D is pretty good, all things considered. I’m sure Universal could have scrounged up some old EPK material on the flick, maybe produce a little featurette on its place in the 3D boom of the 80s, but that would require time and someone actually caring, two things which I doubt anyone at Universal cared to devote to this film.
THE FINAL RATING – 4/10
I’m going to be generous on this one and give it the highest possible failing grade I could give. While the film itself is terrible and downright boring in spots, I got a kick out of watching the early 80s 3D effects on display and the infamous slow moving white turd coming right at my face. Like most of the 3D films of the time, the only reason to watch Jaws 3 is for the novelty of it all. You know it’s a bad film, but you don’t care. You just want to see some severed fish heads floating in front of you.
As far as the technical presentation, the 3D experience holds up surprisingly well, considering Universal probably didn’t do much if anything to restore the picture, and the audio is decent enough. Bottom line, there are probably worst movies you could blow ten bucks on, and at least you’ll have a halfway enjoyable experience watching the film in its original 3D format.