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JAWS 3-D (1983)

[aka Jaws 3 aka Jaws III]

It was a shark. It was a shark with a bite radius about a yard across.”
    “Don’t be silly. That would indicate a shark of some thirty-five feet in length!”





  Director:
 
Joe Alves

  Starring: 
Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Louis Gossett Jr, Simon MacCorkindale, John Putch, Lea Thompson, P. H. Moriarty, Harry Grant, Dolores Starling, Liz Morris

  Screenplay: 
Richard Matheson, Carl Gottlieb and Michael Kane (uncredited), based upon a story by Guerdon Trueblood

Synopsis:  As Sea World prepares for the gala unveiling of its new “Undersea Kingdom” facility, a team of water-skiers practices its routine out on the open ocean, not noticing that a fin has broken the water nearby…. The skiers return to the park, entering the huge, artificial lagoon by passing through a pair of mechanised gates, which begin to slide shut after then. Suddenly, the gates jam, as if caught on something. Some workmen observe this, and call for the park’s chief underwater engineer, Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid). Mike discovers that the gates have somehow been knocked off their tracks. He orders his men to secure them shut, even if they can’t immediately be fixed. He then heads for another section of Sea World, where his girlfriend, the park’s senior biologist Dr Kathryn Morgan (Bess Armstrong), is working with an orca. As the two talk, Kathryn learns from her assistants that the dolphins are behaving strangely, refusing to enter the lagoon. Mike and Kathryn leave for the day, intending to meet up with Mike’s brother, Sean (John Putch), who is visiting from Colorado. As they exit the park, they see its owner, entrepreneur Calvin Bouchard (Louis Gossett Jr), and the world-famous adventurer, Philip FitzRoyce (Simon MacCorkindale), meeting the press. As the sun begins to set, Shelby Overman (Harry Grant) dives down to inspect the damaged lagoon gates. Suddenly, he is viciously attacked…. At a local bar, Sean finds himself attracted to Kelly Bukowski (Lea Thompson), one of the park’s water-skiers. Later that night, after a few drinks, Mike and Kathryn walk on the beach, and Mike breaks the news that he has been offered a job in Venezuela; while back at the lagoon, Kelly tries to lure the water-shy Sean in for a swim. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the lagoon, two poachers are diving for coral. When his partner fails to surface, the other poacher begins to panic – and then is suddenly dragged beneath the water…. The next morning, Kathryn has a training session with the dolphins, but finds them still skittish and distracted. Mike learns from his girlfriend, Charlene (Dolores Starling), that Shelby Overman failed to return home the previous night. Discovering that all of Shelby’s personal possessions are intact, he becomes concerned about the possibility of an accident. He prepares to search the lagoon in a submersible, and Kathryn joins him. The two find nothing at the section of the lagoon where the currents would have taken a body, and decide to search the lagoon’s “sunken galleon” attraction. They begin to move through it, and recoil in terror as without warning, a great white shark slams into the side of the boat….

Comments:  “Free! Free at last!” cried Fredric March’s Mr Hyde, as he was released from the moral confines of Henry Jekyll; and, as I finally sit down to write my review of Jaws 3-D, so do I cry, “Free at last!”

I’ve had this film on my “to review” shortlist ever since---well, ever since I reviewed Jaws 2, I guess. The reason it didn’t get done earlier? An e-mail conversation with my colleague, Ken Begg, who reacted to my Jaws 2 piece by observing dreamily, “You know, I once had this idea about reviewing all four Jaws films sequentially; examining how the series degenerated with each sequel….”

Depths of something....

Well, call me overly sensitive (read: thin-skinned, weak-willed and easily manipulated) if you will, but that hint was enough to make me back off – not just because Ken had “called dibs”, but because I really wanted to see what he would do with the films; not only the inevitable (and well-deserved) eviscerations of Jaws 3-D and Jaws: The Revenge, but how Mr World Of Awful Movies would cope with having to review a good film - heck, a great film – Jaws itself.

But of course, as soon as I made up my mind that I couldn’t/wouldn’t review Jaws 3-D just yet, it became the one thing in the universe that I most wanted to do. But still I waited. And fretted. And waited…. And signed off every e-mail exchange with Ken with an oh-so-casual, “So – thought any more about that Jaws series…?”

And then, last September, the B-Masters turned their collective attention to the topic of Jaws rip-offs. And while I can aver that I had no ulterior motive in mind when I suggested that particular Roundtable theme, it was, nevertheless, a perfect opportunity to say, just one more time, “So – thought any more about that Jaws series…?”

And lo – the Kraken woke….

Which left me with a slight problem, namely, the fact that attempting to review a film after Hurricane Ken has gotten through with it is kind of like turning up at an all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant after Homer Simpson has been there and expecting to get a square meal. What was there left for me to say?

Short answer: nothing. But I wasn’t about to let that stop me. When you get right down to it, I’m not writing this review for you guys; I’m doing it wholly for myself. Because much as I would fight to the death to defend the right of sharks to live their lives unpersecuted, and apoplectically angry as I get about the anti-shark scare-mongering and lies of certain motion pictures, the fact remains – I do love me a good killer shark film. A psychiatrist might be able to explain that. I sure can’t.

(Well – that is – not a good killer shark film, exactly….)

  

The Japanese hoped for the best, but feared the worst....

Jaws 3-D is a film with an ominously peculiar production history. It began life as a spoof called Jaws 3, People 0, with Joe Dante attached to direct and a screenplay co-written by John Hughes and National Lampoon’s Matty Simmons. Its premise was (irony alert!) the troubled production of Jaws 3, with its humour aimed predominantly at Hollywood and most of the “sharks” wearing designer suits. Whether for this reason or some other, executive producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown suddenly got cold feet; Brown later accounted for this volte-face by saying that making the second sequel to Jaws a spoof would be, “Like fouling your own nest.”

As opposed to producing Jaws 3-D.

As it stands today, Jaws 3-D attributes its screenplay to Richard Matheson and Carl Gottlieb, which is enough to make some of us want to curl up in the foetal position and weep. Matheson did provide an outline, one produced under protest in the face of an insistence upon the story featuring not just Michael and Sean Brody, but---the shark from Jaws 2!!---even though it had been comprehensively disposed of at the climax of that film. (The mind boggles at the thought of what this already scarred beastie would have looked like after tangling with an electrical cable.) In any event, by the time Jaws 3-D went into production, nothing was left of Matheson’s outline but the Brody boys. Carl Gottlieb had also come and gone; while from what I’ve been able to determine, the “story by Guerdon Trueblood” upon which the film is supposedly based bore a much closer to resemblance to Red Water than anything we see here. The people actually responsible for the shooting script have since managed to do a sterling job concealing their identities, with only one Michael Kane copping a credit [sic.] for “additional dialogue”.

Meanwhile, Joe Alves, the production designer of Jaws and Jaws 2, ended up directing the third film chiefly, it seems, because no-one else wanted the job. And it was Joe Alves’ idea to shoot the film in 3-D.

I am not now, and never was – not with what I laughingly call “my eyesight” – in a position to judge Jaws 3-D as a 3-D film, but on the existing evidence I have a hard time believing it was ever other than embarrassing. Jaws itself is famously the way it is largely because Steven Spielberg had to find ways of keeping his defective model shark off the screen for as long as possible. In doing so, he ended up crafting a taut and suspenseful thriller, one charged with the terror of the unseen. The later films are at best pale imitations of their model with respect to their stories and characterizations, and unwisely succumb to the temptation to compensate for other shortcomings by giving their sharks much more screentime.

"I got decapitated for your amusement. I hope you're happy!"

It is a peculiar characteristic of the Jaws franchise that, as time went on, the special effects, instead of improving with improved technology as you might anticipate, got exponentially worse. The original Bruce may have had his little mechanical and anatomical deficiencies, but he’s a work of art compared to his various relatives. Jaws 2, as we recall with giddy delight, is highlighted by the moment when Bruce II lunges at a boat, his gaping mouth giving everyone a clear look at the machinery that was making him go, nestled within his hollow interior; while in Jaws: The Revenge, as we shall see in due course, the attack scenes are so carelessly blocked and edited, the various propulsion devices that animate the model shark are clearly visible throughout.

But it is Jaws 3-D in which the series’ shark effects hit rock bottom. There are two “real” sharks in this film, and both get a lot of screentime, and many loving close-ups – and if you can refrain from howling with laughter each time one of them wanders into view, you’ve got a stronger constitution than I have.

Jaws 3-D additionally boasts some of the most truly horrendous bluescreen work that you will ever see, and model work almost of the same, uh, standard. It is also painfully evident that this film’s budget didn’t stretch to shooting 2-D coverage for its 3-D effects. And while I am not in a position to judge how this film may have looked on the big screen, played flat they are nothing short of abysmal.

It is no compliment to this film to say that it sits very comfortably amongst its 3-D brethren of the early eighties, all of which put much more thought and effort into figuring out what they can poke into the camera than they do into minor matters like story and characterisation. Long-term visitors might remember that while dealing with Friday The 13th Part 3, I indicated specific instances of 3-D effects using [square brackets!]. I will do so again here, at least for the most eye-poking effects.

Most home video releases of this film carry the title Jaws III, thus reneging on the promise of 3-D. The titles have not been otherwise altered, however, and feature that zooming red writing we’ve all come to know and, uh, love. The title itself actually breaks into two jagged pieces and then snaps back together like, well, jaws. The film proper commences with a POV shot approaching a singularly unalarmed grouper. A flurry of activity later, and we get our first intimation of the quality of the impeding effects work, as in an awful bit of bluescreening, a [decapitated fish head – mouth still working!] drifts towards us out of a cloud of red paint.

Don't get your hopes up.

Over this scene plays the film’s tentative score, composed by (no, not that) Alan Parker. I say tentative, because it keeps hovering between the re-use of John Williams’ classic music, and its original – and sometimes quite inappropriate – content. Here, accordingly, we get a few half-hearted daah-duh-s before the new material kicks in. 

We cut to the surface of the water, for our first glimpse of the entity that will terrorise viewers throughout the film: a team of trick water-skiers belonging to Sea World, of which we will see far too much as Jaws 3-D progresses.

(Much of the film was shot at Sea World in Orlando, Florida; although since that complex is landlocked and the one in the film is, self-evidently, coastal, they are obviously not meant to be the same place. The degree of cooperation, and the permission for use of all sorts of trademarks, is flabbergasting given that this film’s take-home message is that Sea World is a death-trap run by people willing to risk your life to make a profit.)

The film then wastes no time introducing its other horror, as a fin breaks the water not far away from the skiers. Suddenly, there is a glitch in the routine and the skiers – including our secondary heroine, Kelly Bukowski, played by Lea Thompson in her film debut – plunge into the water. A lengthy underwater shot of thrashing legs follows, getting up our hopes that with some help from our fine finned friend, the threat posed by the skiers will be averted before it begins. Some engine trouble with the motorboat raises our hopes still further. But just at the last moment, the boat’s engine starts up and the skiers are towed to safety. Rats.

We see the fin following, however. As the skiers enter the huge artificial lagoon that will host most of the film’s action, a pair of mechanised gates begin to close behind them. They do not shut, though, but jam on something, which causes them to “jump their tracks”. Sea World, we learn, is in the midst of being extensively renovated, with the construction of an “Undersea Kingdom” in the middle of the lagoon, and is due to open shortly. Some of the associated workers see the problem with the gates, and decide it’s time we all met Our Hero: “Better get Mike Brody!”

"...and I assure you, the size of the pay-cheque had nothing to do with it!"

Well, almost time. Elsewhere, the press is interviewing Calvin Bouchard, the park’s owner, played by an uncomfortably over-the-top Lou Gossett Jr. Bouchard is one of the film’s more misconceived aspects, which is saying something. He is – gasp! – rich; so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that he’s as close as we get to having a human villain. Problem is, whoever wrote this couldn’t decide what kind of villain he was. Bouchard ping-pongs annoyingly between “self-made millionaire who will do anything for money” and “rich guy with far more money than sense”; between bad-ass and dumb-ass, if you like. Now, some throwaway dialogue makes it plain that Bouchard is a highly successful, if not overly scrupulous, businessman, so the various acts of short-sighted stupidity that he is called upon to perform are both ill-considered and extremely irritating.

Bouchard is interviewed by a swarm of reporters about the opening of Sea World’s expensive new attraction, the “Undersea Kingdom”, a series of submerged walkways allowing visitors an underwater view of the residents of the lagoon. When asked if he has anything “special” planned for the occasion, Bouchard replies that one “Philip FitzRoyce” will be present, which draws impressed cooing from those gathered. It is a mark of the script’s quality that it never bothers to explain just who this guy is, but leaves us to infer that he’s some kind of professional adventurer, who travels the world having his exploits filmed by his faithful retainer and loyal sidekick, Jack Tate, who says “Guv’nor” a lot. FitzRoyce is – in a wholly unnecessary and completely thrown away detail – “the 16th Earl of Haddonfield” (I thought Haddonfield was in Illinois?), and the film’s secondary human villain. At least, he spends most of his limited screentime butting heads with Mike Brody and/or Mike’s girlfriend, so his chances of making it to the end credits are rather slim, I’d imagine.

(Oh, and by the way – [*snicker*] – “Philip FitzRoyce”!? Note to American screenwriters: real British aristocrats don’t always have poncy handles, you know; rather, many of the oldest families have fairly common surnames like Howard and Russell and – remember this one? – Spencer. And let’s not forget Christopher Guest, aka Nigel Tufnel aka Mr Jamie Lee Curtis, who is actually the fifth Baron Haden-Guest of Saling.)

(Also, “Fitz”, in the context of a family as old as the Haddonfields must be, tends to imply illegitimacy.)

 

Intelligent dolphins try desperately to send a warning, as Homo sapiens looks on befuddled.

Okay, now it’s time to meet Our Hero, as we see the third cinematic incarnation of Mike Brody inspecting the damaged gates. Mike seems to have had somewhat of a growth spurt in the five years since his last sharky adventure, as he’s now played by Dennis Quaid. Mike sees that the gates can’t be fixed immediately, and orders them secured in the meantime. Apparently, his subordinates weren’t capable of thinking of that for themselves. Mike then wanders off again, shouting back over his shoulder, “No overtime!”, which is a detail we might want to keep in mind.

You know, when you watch a lot of bad movies, you often find yourself wondering how particular actors got sucked into appearing in them. In the case of Bess Armstrong, who play’s Mike’s girlfriend, Dr Kathryn Morgan, there’s no mystery at all: she was offered the chance to spend a large proportion of her screentime interacting with an orca (we first see her riding on Shamu), with dolphins, and with a simply adorable fibreglass shark. Heck, for I chance like that, I’d---I’d---I’d write a kind review of Jaws 3-D! Uh – if, that is, I looked as good in a wetsuit as Ms Armstrong does.

Some exposition follows, as we hear of Sean Brody’s impending visit, and learn that the park’s dolphins are upset about something, and reluctant to enter the lagoon. As Mike and Kathryn leave work for the day, they see Bouchard with FitzRoyce, the latter’s presence causing Kathryn to turn up her nose. (We later learn he’s the kind of wildlife photographer who prefers his subjects dead, presumably so they don’t move and spoil his shot.) Sean – cowboy hat ‘n’ boots ‘n’ all – then shows up; and after much hugging, the three young people depart.

Now, it was broad daylight when Mike ordered the lagoon gates secured - and warned his men there would be no overtime - but for some reason the sun has begun to set before anyone does anything about obeying him. We see one Shelby Overton preparing to dive – alone, and after dark? not very likely. Overton submerges to inspect the gates and, after a couple of silly false scares, becomes our first victim.

(Actually, for a while there he looks like being our only victim – but that’s a complaint for later on.)

First his [mask!] sinks to the lagoon floor, and then we get a look at his [severed arm!] in a shot that would actually be pretty gruesome, if the bluescreen work with which it was accomplished wasn’t so miserable.

It's an established scientific fact that killer animals do not care for arms...

An extended “character” sequence follows, as Mike and Kathryn have a few drinks at a bar, and Sean (perhaps overly cute-meet-ly) pairs up with water-skier Kelly. Wonder of wonders, all this ain’t too painful. In fact, it’s really not painful at all. It’s not just that these four young actors put over their characters in a likeable, believable way, it’s that the film itself treats them fairly well. First up, it’s rather pleasing to see a film centred on a stable young couple, when so many feel compelled to base themselves either on their hero and heroine coming together during a crisis, or on a dysfunctional couple re-connecting during same. Mike and Kathryn – Dennis and Bess, perhaps I should say – are nicely convincing, conveying a pleasing degree of simple friendship, as well as their evident love for one another. I also like the detail of Mike having a pet name for his girlfriend that no-one else uses: she’s “Kay” to him, “Kathy” or “Kate” to everyone else.

The other thing that’s welcome is that the four young people are allowed to behave like young people – with no punitive outcome. You know – when you watch a lot of horror films, you see an awful lot of horrendous punishments dished out to the characters, often for the most petty of moral transgressions. Jaws 3-D, on the other hand, is willing to concede that a group of young adults might indeed be able to have a drink or two, party a little, and commit a few minor infractions, and yet still be intelligent and responsible people. Even Sean and Kelly getting hormonal with one another isn’t punished all that severely. It’s refreshing to watch.

Anyway, a tad the worse for wear, the four stagger out of the bar. Mike and Kathryn walk on the beach, and Dennis Quaid delivers some film-linking dialogue about his father, “that shark attack” (uh, which shark attack?), and Sean’s consequent fear of the water. We also learn that Sean is attending university in Colorado – which by my reckoning makes him the only Brody in four films to react to his selachophobia by doing something sensible, i.e., moving away from the freaking ocean!!

Unfortunately, this scene culminates with the introduction of a wholly unnecessary subplot involving the young couple’s conflicting job offers: Mike’s in Venezuela and Kathryn’s, once she finishes up at Sea World, at the prestigious Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. Can this relationship be saved??

The reason this film isn't a total write-off.

(Anyone who thinks it won’t be the female half of this couple that eventually sacrifices her dream job for lurrve hasn’t watched enough movies. Or, for that matter, seen enough of the real world.)

Meanwhile, Kelly is using a bit of basic biology to lure the gun-shy Sean into the water; and if the film as a whole were less lackadaisical, we would probably better appreciate the irony of Sean being offered the lagoon as a safe swimming alternative to the ocean.

We are then given cause to wonder just how big this lagoon is – big enough to have discrete weather patterns, anyway – as we watch a couple of coral poachers going about their business elsewhere on it, surrounded by a fog bank. One of the poachers dives and doesn’t come up again. The second peers anxiously into the water, and then is yanked overboard. And then, uh, the rubber raft is pulled under as well. I dunno – roughage, I guess. Throughout this scene, we have distantly heard our young protagonists laughing and shouting together, and as the second poacher disappears, Sean Brody says distinctly, “Oh, you’re dead!”

The next morning, after another nice character scene, we see Kathryn working with the [dolphins!] at the park. The animals are still jittery and unresponsive. Their poor performance draws a rude comment from the wandering FitzRoyce, who further remarks that he is “looking for someone in authority” – whereupon Kathryn informs him frostily that she is Sea World’s senior biologist, no less. FitzRoyce looks incredulous, as well he might: Kathryn is the most junior senior biologist I’ve ever seen!

(In truth, both Mike and Kathryn are far too young for the positions they hold, but this is such a Hollywood “given”, it hardly seems fair to criticise this particular film for it.)

Elsewhere, Mike is learning the hard way that Shelby Overman is missing – the “hard way” being via a bizarre encounter with Shelby’s girlfriend, Charlene. As I say, Lou Gossett Jr embarrasses himself more than anyone else in this film, but Dolores Starling makes an impressive tilt at the title with this one scene; heck, with one line of dialogue!

It's astonishing that no-one wants to take responsibility for the screenplay.

However, when Mike realises that all of Overman’s effects are intact (for some reason, the late Shelby liked to carry his passport, credit cards and driver’s license around loose), he begins to get worried. Kathryn wanders in during these events, and the two decide to search the lagoon in the Sea World submersible.

My first glimpse of this contraption drew from me a cry of, “Hey! Cool! Thunderbird 4!”, but it soon transpired that I had done Gerry and Sylvia Anderson a grave injustice: nowhere in Thunderbirds will you see an effects sequence as awful as the one we suffer through here, as a toy submersible chuffs around in front of a painfully obvious bluescreen lagoon. You might also want to look out for the moment when the sub banks to the left, and part of its front section disappears!

Mike pilots the sub past a huge filtration pipe, about which he and Kathryn exchange some unconvincing dialogue – indeed, given the realistic interplay between these two so far, it’s unconvincing enough to draw attention to itself. Dum, dum, duumm....

Shelby’s body isn’t where you’d expect the currents to have deposited it, so Kathryn and Mike climb out of the sub in order to search the lagoon’s “sunken galleon”, thinking that it may have gotten caught inside. We get a few more pointless 3-D effects at this time, like a [fake skeleton!], its [bony hand!] jutting inevitably towards the audience.

As the two swim towards the artificial ship, Kathryn’s favourite [dolphins!], Cindy and Sandy, suddenly burst into sight. They dart around in a frantic fashion and chatter and shake their heads, doing everything they can to alert the dim-witted humans to the fact that something’s badly wrong, short of grabbing them by the collar and bellowing, “Get out of here, you morons! There’s a freaking SHARK in the lagoon!!” into their faces. But neither Mike nor the animal-attuned Kathryn takes any notice of their odd behaviour, instead venturing into the galleon, where they are briefly menaced by a [Spring-Loaded Moray Eel!]. And then finally, it’s time for some onscreen shark action – and, oh my friends! – what action it is!

There's only one thing that could get Sean Brody into the water! Okay, technically, two.

There are two sharks in this film. Shark #1 is….simply breathtaking. For once sensibly sized, about ten feet long (that’s a clue, for those of you who are paying attention), this….thing….does….nothing. I swear! It’s not just stiff as a board, it is a board. It’s made of fibreglass, or something similar, and it is completely inflexible, being moved around either by offscreen technicians or, occasionally, onscreen actors. Here it makes its first appearance by abruptly slamming into the galleon – and then departs the way it came. Now, I got to deliver a “sharks can’t swim backwards!” diatribe during my Deep Blue Sea piece, and I won’t repeat it here. In fact, the shark departing backwards is the least of our worries. It doesn’t swim; it is all too obviously jerked back, by some unseen stagehand. And then just to make things complete, they cut in some stock footage of a real shark, which for some unknown reason has been speeded up. Classic!

Our so-called heroes try to make their escape, but have to be rescued by the dolphins, who tow Mike and Kathryn away at a rapid pace. A mind-blowing piece of editing follows. (Poor Verna Fields must be rolling around in her grave.) First, Kathryn – who spends endless hours working with these dolphins, remember – loses her grip on her ride. (That’s girls for you, I guess.) A long shot shows her about halfway between Mike and the shark, at the surface of the water; she calls to Mike for help, but what she expects him to do is anyone’s guess. The next shot shows her about ten feet under the water. The very next instant, the shark is on top of her. And the next instant, the dolphin has suddenly managed to interpose itself between Kathryn and the shark. This intrepid animal also contrives, in a split second, not just to distract the shark, but to twist around so Kathryn can grab it, and put a distance of about ten yards between itself and the fibreglass menace.

Mike and Kathryn scramble frantically out of the water, and Kathryn shrieks for one of her assistants to close the gates to the dolphins’ pool. This leads to what is surely the most fondly cherished moment in Jaws 3-D. The dolphins make their way to safety, and the gates slide shut just in the nick of time, causing the pursuing shark to slam into them head-first – while this, in turn, causes the shark’s head to snap back into its neck!!

Up on the dock, meanwhile, Mike is shrieking, “What the hell was that!? What is it!!??” Hmm….guess he’s blocked a few things out over the years.

And to think I could be watching Star Trek instead....

News of the shark is carried to Bouchard and FitzRoyce, who join Kathryn and Mike at the lagoon. Kathryn announces that it was, “A great white, exhibiting a typical feeding pattern!” – by which she presumably means it was trying to chow down on a Brody. FitzRoyce immediately goes into his “big white hunter” routine here, proposing to Bouchard that they could make a fortune by filming the killing of the shark.

(Ewww!! You sick bastards! Okay, I realise that this was thirty years ago, and that the push for the protection of the great white as an endangered species was still in its infancy, but jeez Lou-ise! – can you imagine!? Well, yeah, I guess you can. On Fox, maybe – When Sharks Get Their Bellies Slit Open For The Cameras….)

Bouchard’s eyes start to gleam, and Kathryn hurriedly intervenes, pointing out the potential long-term financial gains of having the world’s only great white shark in captivity.

Jaws 3-D mishandles Kathryn here. You can’t keep a great white in captivity – or any of the larger sharks, for that matter – and she would know that better than anyone. The reasons for this are as yet unclear. Some people think that captivity plays havoc with the species’ exquisitely sensitive navigational system; others that whites, like terrestrial animals such as bears, need constant stimulation and a far more complex environment than an aquarium can provide in order to stay healthy; still others that, more simply, a large expanse of water is a fundamental requirement of the species. But whatever the reason, there has never been a great white kept alive in captivity for any length of time – although a heartbreaking number of them have died over the years in the attempt.  (From memory, they did have one for a while at a zoo in San Francisco, but they let it go when its health started to deteriorate.)

So far from being eager to keep the shark, Kathryn should be against it all the way – except as the lesser of the various evils confronting her; as a stay of execution for the poor animal, while she figures out what to do next. (There’s an idea for a sequel! – Free Bruce!)

 

Bert I. Gordon would be proud.

Anyway, Kathryn’s ploy works: both Bouchard and FitzRoyce see the possibilities in her idea, and FitzRoyce volunteers to help catch the animal. For some reason, this has to be done immediately – that is, at night. FitzRoyce prepares an anaesthetic – ridding the syringe of air bubbles by shooting [the liquid!] directly at the camera – then begins arming himself with grenades. (Plot point! Plot point!)

Mike, already in a state over Kathryn’s involvement in the capture, intervenes here, furiously points out the possible consequences of an explosive device being detonated in the artificial lagoon, and Bouchard agrees with him. (It is one of the nicer touches in Jaws 3-D that both Mike and Kathryn essentially stick to their own area of expertise, rather than becoming instant experts on everything, as happens in many films.) FitzRoyce is dressed in a bright red wetsuit, intended to attract the shark, while Kathryn dons an anti-shark chain mail diving suit….which has a chance of protecting her from the bite of a great white shark that rates somewhere between “none” and “Buckley’s”.

Kathryn and FitzRoyce, along with Jack, who’s filming as usual, enter the water – there is, mysteriously, much more light below the surface than above it – while Mike waits up above armed with a kind of a crossbow, loaded with a spear with a rope attached. (So much for Mike sticking to his area of expertise.) We then learn why they may have preferred to film this sequence in the dark, as Kathryn is attacked by – the Fibreglass Shark!! Of course, it only grabs her air-tanks. FitzRoyce drives it off by bonking it on the nose. The shark – briefly reverting to its stock footage incarnation – withdraws – rapidly – then obligingly heads for the surface of the water. Its fin breaks through, and Mike pulls off a [*cough*] remarkable shot with his crossbow, the [spear!] travelling towards the audience (just ignore the wires, folks!) before hitting the fin dead centre; the rope has a drag float attached to it.

Under the water, Kathryn sticks an anaesthetic dart into the shark’s belly. She and FitzRoyce head for the surface, and there’s a good Kathryn moment as, despite the terror and excitement of her experience, her first thought is for the shark, which we next see in a sling, being lowered into its recovery tank. Kathryn and her assistant, who gives a general impression of being competent and reliable and smart and whose name just happens to be Liz, begin “walking” the shark, keeping it moving until it (hopefully) recovers.

Behold! The Amazing Retractable Swiss-Army Shark!

(Great whites are amongst the species of shark that need to keep moving at all times in order to keep water flowing over their gills and so avoid drowning; something this film draws attention to at some points, and blithely ignores at others. How long a white can survive without moving is unclear: there have certainly been instances of them recovering when cut free after being caught in shark-netting.)

Some time later, Mike shows up, complaining to Kathryn that he’s “lonely”. How long have they been walking the thing!? Jeez, just as well Mike and Kathryn managed to get jobs at the same facility, isn’t it? – otherwise he might not have survived. (And actually, there is some dialogue early on indicating that they were hired by Sea World at the same time. I wonder what the odds are of a marine park requiring an engineer and a senior biologist at exactly the same moment…?) Kathryn is apologetic, but rightly shows no disposition to stop what she’s doing; so after a moment Mike calls Liz out of the water and hops in himself to take her place. He’s barely touched the shark when it abruptly comes to life. (Man! – that “Brody-scent” must be powerful stuff!) The humans scramble out of the tank, Mike understandably panicky, Kathryn understandably ecstatic, while the Fibreglass Shark….just kinda lies there. Kathryn reminds her subordinates – they need reminding? – that nothing should be done to traumatise the animal.

Hmm….something tells me that the Fibreglass Shark is Not Long For This World….

The film’s most annoying sequence follows, as we waste endless minutes with scenes of Sea World’s grand re-opening. Guides, dancers, [Shamu!], and [water-skiers!], [water-skiers!], [water-skiers!] – aack! After all this, uh, excitement, Jaws 3-D takes a moment to remind us of the fate of the unfortunate Shelby Overman (remember him?), with Mike using a model of the lagoon to explain where he and Kathryn searched, and Bouchard bringing up that darn filtration pipe again. (Amusingly, Mike’s reply to Bouchard is an exact repeat of his earlier answer to Kathryn, when she asked him about the pipe. I think they’re trying to tell us something, don’t you?) Bouchard then wanders off with his dogs-body, Leonard, and learns from him that ticket sales are sky-high.

And then he has a brainwave – or his Supreme Dumb-Ass Moment, however you prefer to put it – and orders the shark put on public display, against Kathryn’s strict orders.

"Personally I think it's a bad idea to include footage of me so close to shots of that fibreglass thing."

Let’s pause here a minute, and see if we can count how many different kinds of stupid this is, shall we?

  • Sea World has had no time to prepare a suitable display tank for its prize. (Of course, given the nature of the Fibreglass Shark, it probably doesn’t want one, but that’s another matter.)
  • There’s been no time to mount a proper publicity campaign (or to generate the inevitable merchandise), as you would want to do to exploit such a situation.
  • The tank to which the shark is moved (about which, I shall have more to say in a moment) isn’t isolated, meaning they’re not charging any extra for people to see the animal.
  • The park’s senior biologist has warned that any trauma could kill the goose and its golden eggs.
  • Sea World is a success; it’s not like they need to boost sales, is it? Why wouldn’t they let the park’s re-opening and new exhibits draw all the people they can on their own, then use the shark to pull in a second wave of huge crowds?

Kind of makes you wonder how Bouchard got so rich in the first place, doesn’t it? Oh, and one other thing: who moved the shark? And how could it be moved without Kathryn knowing about it?

Feh! Anyway – who wants to be worrying about these things, when we could be watching – water-skiers? [Water-skiers!], [water-skiers!], [water-skiers!!].

Sean meets up with Kelly, who drags him away to the bumper boats. We then get our first look at the much-ballyhooed “Undersea Kingdom” which, no offence to Sea World, really makes me appreciate Sydney’s two aquaria. We briefly follow three young girls as they enter the new attraction, passing through an entrance guarded by a sea serpent which looks rather like Ghidorah, and which sticks its [bifurcated tongue!] into the camera. The girls are menaced by a [Crappy Animatronic Moray Eel!], then a [Crappy Animatronic Octopus Tentacle!].

Cut to Mike and Kathryn, who are feeding a dolphin, and we are briefly threatened with having to listen while the two of them have “a serious conversation” about their relationship. Thankfully, Mike is paged, and then Kathryn hears over the park PA – the PA, mind you!! – that the shark has been put on display. Horrified, she sprints off.

I guess I just don't understand Big Business.

One of Jaws 3-D’s most hysterical sequences follows, as we see the way the makers of this film think a unique attraction ought to be handled. First, the shark’s whereabouts are announced by nothing more than a tiny, hand-stenciled sign! Second, as I’ve said, they’re not charging visitors extra to see the animal; a few dozen people are simply milling about the most fabulous shark tank you will ever, ever see! Picture this, if you can: an above-ground pool (not a tank, in fact), about knee-high to an adult – waist-high to a small child – with no guard-rail, and about four inches between the surface of the water and the edge of the pool – on and over which, numerous visitors are casually leaning.

There are, of course, various zoologists who claim that the great white shark poses no particular threat to human beings, and who dive amongst the animals unprotected to prove it. And the longer Jaws 3-D goes, the more it feels like the film was made by these people as a piece of pro-shark propaganda. It certainly features two of the least successful predators of humans that have ever graced our screens. Here, you’re just waiting for someone to exclaim, “See! See! You can stick your hands right in the water, and nothing will happen!”

Of course, this particular shark’s placidity might be a side-effect of its physical condition: the Fibreglass Shark chooses this moment to do what it’s been trying to do all along – and would have much earlier, if only those pesky stage-hands had left it alone: it floats to the surface of the water and rolls over onto its side. Kathryn comes rushing up, demanding explanations of her subordinates who, we note, made no attempt to inform her of the shark’s move. Seeing the shark’s condition, she and her assistant, Dan, leap into the pool – one of the reasons that pool’s the way it is, I imagine – and try to walk the animal, but to no avail. It’s been painfully evident all along that this shark is incapable of any movement on its own, but here we get The Apotheosis Of The Fibreglass Shark as, to indicate that the animal has died, Bess Armstrong has to roll the thing over with her hands and hold it on its back!!

(As the icing on a particularly delicious piece of cheesecake, when the shark does roll over, we are able to observe that it is not anatomically correct: it’s missing the claspers so evident on the stock footage shark standing in for it earlier on.)

It's a stiff.

Looking vaguely disappointed, the members of the public who have witnessed the tragedy file away. FitzRoyce, also a witness, does look upset at this outcome, which is odd given the whole slit-its-belly-open thing earlier. (Where, one might ask, has that swarm of press people that was bugging Bouchard earlier on got to?) Kathryn climbs out of the tank. She is – depressed. No more. This is ludicrous. I know there’s some idiotic cinematic convention out there that dictates that “nice” women don’t get angry (or if they do, they must apologise for it later, no matter what their original justification), but there is no way that Kathryn would react to this situation just by getting a bit upset. She should be furious – indeed, homicidally furious. Not just because of the shark’s fate, but because Bouchard’s disregard of her professional advice is a monumental slap in the face for her. But in fact, Kathryn barely reacts at all! – and certainly not in a professional sense. Although Mike earlier became angry when FitzRoyce’s grenades threatened “his” lagoon, Kathryn never utters a word of umbrage about “her” shark. It must be a “girl thing”….

(Although it never plays like it, I assume that one of the points of this incident was to goad Kathryn into quitting her job, thus settling the issue of her and Mike’s career conflict. And in fact, looked at objectively, this could have provided an unusually sensible solution, inasmuch as Kathryn could have gone to Venezuela for six months, then taken up her position at the Scripps Institute, with Mike joining her in California when he finished his own tour of duty. Because, of course, resolving the issue is left entirely up to Kathryn. Annoyingly, there is never the slightest suggestion that Mike might turn down his dream job for her sake – when he says to her early on that she should “just give up your life and follow me”, he’s not entirely joking – nor that their relationship might actually be strong enough to survive a temporary separation. Nope, it’s all or nothing: either Kathryn goes or Kathryn stays; no third option. And ultimately, the decision – no prizes for guessing what it is – will be made with a ridiculous lack of difficulty and heart-burning – as if long-term jobs at the Scripps Institute were just a dime a dozen….)

Anyway, Shark #1 having carked it, it’s just about time for Shark #2 to put in an appearance. We cut back to the three girls at the Undersea Kingdom where, for no readily apparent reason, the [mutilated corpse of Shelby Overman!] is about to put in an appearance, drifting up past the viewing windows. In a bizarre and inexplicable moment, someone shoves one of the girls up against the glass, pressing her face near that of the body as she screams in horror….

....and Susie never whined to be taken to Sea World again.

More idiocy follows. Despite the recovery of a dead body (how and who by, we never do learn), no-one bothers to call The Authorities. Instead, Mike (?) comes to identify the victim. Ah! I do believe it’s the traditional “This was no boat accident!” scene!

We get a sharp reminder here (along with the choice to film in 3-D in the first place) that by the summer of 1983, Jaws 3-D was in box office competition with the slasher film, which had upped the ante on body-part horror: when, with trepidation, Mike twitches back the sheet, it is to reveal a grotesquely gruesome corpse, worms squirming in its mouth and a crab scuttling over one lidless eye. Eww!!

Mike reels away, gagging, but recovers sufficiently to name Shelby Overman. Kathryn then demands to see the body. Mike and another guy immediately intervene with a “Protect the wimminfolk!” gesture, but Kathryn argues that if it is a shark attack, she’s seen it before. The men reluctantly step aside, and Kathryn pulls the sheet right back, revealing that the corpse has a huge chunk out of its right side, as well as missing its arm. She doesn’t gag (attagirl!), but she does give a cry of horror, holding her hands about a yard apart. She then turns and sprints for the door, Mike in her wake.

Hey, remember that filtration pipe that everyone keeps going on about? Well, it’s about to get another mention. Turns out there’s some kind of obstruction in it. Hmm….wonder what that could be…?

Bouchard, FitzRoyce and Jack are in the underwater restaurant. (Amusingly enough, whatever they thought of the film itself, people loved this particular concept so much that Sea World went ahead and built it – Sharks Underwater Grill.) The three are smiling and chuckling together, which seems kind of weird in the wake of the death of the Fibreglass Cash Cow. There are some small sharks cruising around outside, and we learn that they are confined to this one section of the lagoon by a “bubble wall” which they dislike crossing. (Uh, remember that, folks.) Bouchard is notified of the problem with the wretched filtration pipe, and orders it shut down.

So, Bess - just how bad is this film?

Kathryn and Mike then come charging in, and Kathryn drops her bombshell. When she claims that Overman was killed by a shark with a bite radius of about a yard across, she is scoffed at, FitzRoyce arguing that this would imply a shark of some thirty-five feet in length….

So just how big do great white sharks get, anyway?

The fundamental difficulty with determining just how big the biggest great white might be is that the animals undergo significant post-mortem shrinkage, making official determinations next to impossible. Unofficially, the two biggest whites on record are the one caught off Cuba in 1945, which supposedly measured twenty-one feet, and a twenty-foot specimen caught off Prince Edward Island in 1988. Another twenty-foot specimen was found dead in fishermen’s nets off Mexico in 2009, while the biggest white to be caught, measured alive and released was just under eighteen feet. (Surprisingly, the specimen in question was male: because of their reproductive burden, the biggest great whites are generally female, which is one thing this film gets right; accidentally, no doubt. Anyway, this find suggests that real-life females could be bigger.)

What this means in the present context is that the shark in Jaws 3-D is not only ten feet longer than the ones in Jaws and Jaws 2, but approximately twice as big as the biggest one ever officially recorded.

I find it hilarious that the makers of these films don’t consider a twenty-foot great white – a shark three-to-four times longer than you are – anywhere near scary enough.

And we’re not done with the sharky idiocy just yet! Kathryn not only agrees seriously with FitzRoyce’s sarcastically delivered conclusion, she goes on to drop Bombshell #2: the second shark was the first shark’s mother!

This plot twist is by far my favourite aspect of Jaws 3-D, as it offers (unexplicated, admittedly) three different possible scenarios, each one sillier than the last.

  1. The mother shark entered the lagoon seeking quiet waters in which to give birth, and became trapped there.
  2. Mother and child were just, you know, hanging together, and both got trapped in the lagoon.
  3. The baby got trapped, and its mother, presumably having seen Gorgo one too many times, came rushing to the rescue.

1983: when men were men, and computers were the size of a great white shark.

Option #3 needs no dismissal, of course. (Woulda been fun, though!) Option #2 is highly improbable – whites do occasionally hang out together, but the odds of mother and offspring doing so aren’t brilliant. Certainly they don't keep company in the manner being implied here, with the female staying nearby to protect her young.

Yet strange as it might seem, Option #1 is actually the least likely. I can believe that a pregnant female might have taken refuge in the lagoon, but not that she produced a single ten-foot baby! Here’s the thing: whites, which are ovoniparous, generally have a multiple birth, producing anywhere up to fourteen four-to-five-feet-long pups. If a white gave birth in that lagoon, it should be swarming with young sharks!

Anyway, Kathryn’s startling pronouncement is the cue for Brucette to make her appearance. As you’ve no doubt surmised, she’s been hiding in the filtration pipe, the inference being that its water pressure is strong enough to allow her to breathe without moving; although why she’s been hiding is never explained; a well-developed sense of dramatic timing, perhaps. The pipe being shut down means that Brucette is forced out into the open, something she achieves by – sigh – backing out of the pipe….

Brucette isn’t quite as dismal as her offspring…which I guess isn’t saying much. She can move her tail from side to side, for one thing; even if this does cause her to list to the right, and even if you can see the mechanism working under her skin. Much more importantly, however--- Well, allow me to quote from Ken’s review:

No doubt to the delight of Lyz Kingsley, this is the first fake shark in a Jaws movie whose lips draw back to expose its teeth, as those of a real shark can.”

Yes, it’s true; I admit it. The first time I saw this film, when Brucette first pulled back her lips I thrust out a finger, bounced up and down in my chair, and let out a squeal that could have shattered glass. Yeah, I know – sad, isn’t it? No, not just sad. Pathetic.

"Sure, I'll smile! There's no need to call me names."

I should perhaps mention that my excitement was subsequently tempered by the realisation that Brucette’s gums were, all too obviously, made of pink plastic. Furthermore, it turns out that the budget of Jaws 3-D didn’t stretch to the construction of a thirty-five-foot model, so they just built the head to scale for use in some scenes, while re-tooling the model from Jaws 2 for the others.

Her cover blown, Brucette then decides to reveal herself to our human protagonists, which she does via some amusingly bad effects work. A POV shot cruises through that bubble wall we heard about earlier (so much for it acting as a barrier). Inside, Mike looks up and reacts with shock, pointing out into the lagoon – where, though the miracle of appalling superimposition, Brucette is hovering.

The main characters scatter, while the other restaurant patrons scream in terror – raising an odd point: Sea World is a marine park, isn’t it? I mean, people are there to see the animals, right? Why, then, does everyone scream and run when they see this shark?

(Okay---I guess it’s because we’re in the world of the killer shark film, where all sharks have a passionate hatred of man-made structures and invariably try to destroy them, and where they use their incredibly sensitive snouts as a battering-ram.)

Bouchard heads for the park’s control room to order the Undersea Kingdom evacuated, while Mike, FitzRoyce and Jack rush towards the lagoon to get everyone out of the water. Curiously, no-one thinks to use the PA system. Deciding halfway there that he needs a form of transportation other than his own feet, Mike commandeers a small cart – a popcorn-delivery cart, no less – and putts across the park at about half the speed he was travelling under his own power.

Move over, Bullitt!

In an hilarious sequence of events, Mike suddenly finds himself bearing down on two babies being pushed in dolphin-shaped fun-park prams. He swerves to avoid them (dashing my hopes of a low-speed re-enactment of Death Race 2000), finds himself blocked by a whole row of unoccupied dolphin prams, swerves again, and ends up deposited on the ground in an undignified heap when his cart tips over. And then he gets back to his feet and resumes sprinting.

He charges into the show area, interrupting the water-skiing display (yay, Mike!), and tries to call the skiers in (boo, Mike!). We get one of the film’s better moments here, as one of the skiers, being lifted horizontally by her male partner, leans right back – and sees a fin break the water behind her. Unfortunately, this is accompanied by one of the film’s dumbest moments, particularly after all that harping on the shark’s length. You see, her fin ends up immediately, and I mean immediately, behind the line of skiers – which means that her mouth is about fifteen feet in front of them!

Well, a panic ensues, as you’d expect, and the skiers plunge into the water. An underwater shot shows the usual thrashing of legs and churning of water, and we wait for Brucette to make her move. And in fact, with a bloodbath at this point, a mass slaughtering of the skiers, Jaws 3-D might have gone some distance towards redeeming itself. But it doesn’t happen. In fact, not one of the skiers is so much as nipped.

Remember what I was saying about this film actually being pro-shark propaganda, being intended to demonstrate how small a threat the great white poses to humankind…?

Anyway, apparently as bored with the water-skiers as I am, Brucette cruises over to the bumper boat area, where no attempt whatsoever has been made to get people out of the water. This is where Sean and Kelly just happen to be. (Sean back on the water after a shark has been found in the lagoon!? You’ll pardon my scepticism….) The shark bumps into one of the boats – well, what are you supposed to do with a bumper boat? – which just happens to be the one with Sean and Kelly in it. They fall into the water. Kelly is briefly jagged by the leg and screams in pain and terror.

The dangerous bit's over there somewhere. 

Brucette lifts her head out of the water here, initiating another panic. One small screaming group is stranded on a flimsy floating wooden platform, which the shark hits from underneath, sending them plunging into the water. As people stampede to shore, FitzRoyce and Jack dive into the water; it is FitzRoyce who carries Kelly to shore. Not a single drop of blood falls from her leg on her way up the beach, and when the camera moves in we see that she has a straight vertical gash on her thigh that looks considerably more like a knife wound than a shark bite.

And round about now, I started to get an attack of sexual paranoia. This wasn’t a film featuring some pro-shark propaganda; this was, on the contrary, a film featuring the single most incompetent shark in the history of the world! – as well as the only shark in the Jaws series explicitly identified as being female. Hmm....

And then the penny dropped.

Brucette is female – so, naturally – she’s on a diet!!

Which, in fact, explains not only her utter failure to cause a single fatality amongst the dozens of helpless swimmers thrashing in the water mere inches from her snout, but the bizarre nature of the few injuries she has inflicted.

Shelby Overman, for instance. His corpse is gruesome, yes, but it’s also surprisingly intact. It’s not mutilated, as we might expect; rather, it looks like it’s been skinned. And while the right arm is missing, we saw most of that floating around on its own earlier on. Very little, if any, of Overman has been eaten. Were forced to conclude that Brucette just chewed on him for a bit before spitting him out.

As for Kelly’s injury, there’s no corresponding damage to the back of her leg. It’s not a bite, in other words, it’s a gash – as if Brucette did no more than run her teeth over Kelly’s thigh. Likewise, we hear in passing that other people were “wounded” during the fracas at the bumper boats, but on the visual evidence they might just as well have jagged themselves on the broken boards of the wooden platform as been bitten. If it was Brucette, she was tasting, but not eating.

This girl has just been savaged by a thirty-five-foot great white shark. No, really.

(The coral poachers, we infer, were eaten by Baby Bruce.)

Meanwhile, Kathryn is worrying about the dolphins. (And given the degree of threat posed so far to Homo sapiens by Brucette, she is entirely justified.)  However, she decides that they can’t open the gates between the lagoon, where the dolphins are, and the training pool, because they can’t risk the shark getting in, too. Which is pretty freaking stupid, since the linking tunnel is only about four feet across! Mind you, given Brucette’s strike rate, soon she’ll probably have wasted away to the point where she could fit through.

And actually, dolphins aside for the moment, wouldn’t isolating the shark in a small tank be desirable at this point?

Sean travels in the ambulance with Kelly, and that’s the last we see of either of them. Bouchard orders the Undersea Kingdom closed, without saying why, and the guides start moving the visitors towards the exits. As one group walks along a glass-enclosed walkway, a little girl points up at “the big fish”, prompting a cry of, “Holy shit!” and a stampede for the exit.

Now, again, if you were visiting an aquarium, wouldn’t you be thrilled by the chance to see an enormous shark close up? Not these people, apparently. And indeed, their terrified panic is made all the more bewildering by the fact that the film’s special effects [sic.] team forgot to composite Brucette into the shot.

But as it turns out, the stampede is all for the best: Brucette is a movie shark, after all, and in spite of her dismal record in whittling down the cast, she nurses the traditional hatred of man’s handiwork, and promptly slams her snout into one of the walkways – which promptly springs a significant leak. Top engineering job, there, Mikey!

"SHARK, SHARK!!"
"Where?"

The screaming visitors flee the damaged section of the tunnel as the water starts to pour in. In the control room, Bouchard orders the watertight doors shut (shouldn’t that be automatic?), and the terrified group finds itself trapped, up to its collective waist in water. Remarkably, it turns out there is no facility for pumping the water out, or even for opening the doors at one end of the section but not the other. The people are stuck until the damaged section is repaired. I just have to say again – great design, Mikey!

(By the way, a quick thumbs-up to the girl who plays the guide with the job of handling the frightened, trapped people. She does a nice job of conveying someone who’s in over their head – if you’ll pardon the expression – but doing their very best to look confident and in control.)

Mike and his team work frantically to build a “patch” for the damaged tunnel section. And, believe it or not, Kathryn chooses this of all moments to announce that – surprise! – she’s decided to turn down that job at the Scripps Institute and go with Mike to South America – adding lamely, “Maybe they could use some trained whales in Venezuela, huh?” Oh, yes, I’m sure they can, Kathryn; just as I’m sure that you’ll have no trouble in the future getting yourself a job just as good as the one you’re turning down; or that when you are in Venezuela, spending much time alone while Mike’s out on site, and feeling your career slipping away from you, the words “Scripps Institute” will never once pass your lips in an angry or resentful manner….

A brief cutaway to Bouchard’s flunky, Leonard, who’s stalling the press – hilariously, a question refers to a rumour about a shark! – because, after all, only a few thousand people have seen it – another to the trapped visitors, and then we meet up with FitzRoyce and Bouchard, the former outlining his plan for luring Brucette back into the filtration pipe and trapping her there, in order to allow Mike a chance to fix the tunnel. The pipe, fortunately, has a gate that can be closed once the shark is inside. And FitzRoyce being the devil-may-care adventurer that he is, he’s going to use himself as live bait. Temporarily live, anyway.

Keep in mind that bad bluescreen effects look much worse when the picture is moving.

FitzRoyce and Jack enter the water. FitzRoyce takes up his position in the pipe, securing himself against the current with a life-line, and with a combination of banging noises and chum, Brucette is drawn into the pipe, with Jack closing the gate after her.

FitzRoyce then begins using the life-line to haul himself up and away from the dangerous [sic.] animal, until – ooh, shock of shocks! – the rope breaks. For no reason. Even though we saw him and Jack testing it before they started.

And so, after a lo-oo-ng wait, FitzRoyce becomes the film’s second onscreen victim – eventually. For all that the water pressure in this pipe is supposedly so strong that it is capable of maintaining the oxygen requirements of an enormous great white shark, FitzRoyce is not swept immediately into Brucette’s mouth by the current, but exhibits a remarkable freedom of movement.

First, he uses a [bang-stick!] on the shark, which seems kind of counter-intuitive: she can’t go anywhere, after all; that kind of treatment will just get her mad. Regardless, FitzRoyce then whomps Brucette on the nose with his camera (ditto).

However--- Determined, apparently, to keep her record intact, Brucette still doesn’t attack FitzRoyce: rather, the water current finally carries him passively into her mouth! And so very committed to her WeightWatchers program is Brucette, she refuses to eat him even though he’s in her mouth. Instead, FitzRoyce jams in her throat while she works her jaws frantically in what at this point we can only interpret as an effort to dislodge him.

Not just on a diet, in other words – bulimic.

It's hard to stick a finger down your throat when you don't have fingers.

Anyway, although he manages to get a grenade out of his belt, Brucette’s throat convulsions finally squish FitzRoyce before he can use it. We get a squirt of blood out of Brucette’s gill-covers, and learn that the stories aren’t true: aristocratic blood isn’t blue at all; it’s pink!

Meanwhile, Mike is off fixing the tunnel with his [welding iron!], and Kathryn suddenly decides to join him, because “he needs eyes in the back of his head!” Uh, why? The shark’s trapped, isn’t it? As least at the present moment....

Up on land, a grief-stricken Jack has learned of FitzRoyce’s death. When Bouchard hears, he commits his first sensible act of the whole film, ordering the pipe shut down so that Brucette suffocates. Brucette reacts to this not just by swimming backwards, but by making repeated backwards charges! – which at length force the gate open.

Bouchard sees the escape on his monitors, and sends out a warning to Mike and Kathryn. Mike sticks with his job, however. Sure enough, Brucette knows when there’s a Brody in the water – and as she bears down upon this one – she roars!!

Nevertheless, it takes a warning signal from Kathryn to alert Mike to the shark’s presence. (Well, fair enough. I guess you wouldn’t automatically associate “roaring sound” with “shark”, would you?) Mike has, of course, succeeded in fixing the tunnel, so he and Kathryn are free to flee; but yet again, they require assistance from – Cindy and Sandy, our heroic dolphins!

(Which is why the script needed them left in the lagoon, of course. You know – the longer this stuff goes on, the harder I’m having to struggle to suppress memories of those dolphins in The Simpsons, whose chattering was subtitled as a gleeful, “You’re all going to die!”)

Mike was later indicted for taking kickbacks on the glass contract.

Brucette makes a typically feeble attempt to chomp on Mike and Kathryn, before Cindy and Sandy rush in to the rescue. They chatter, and Brucette – who’s hovering again! – roars some more. Then, in an unexpected moment, it seems that one of the dolphins – Sandy, if you care – actually does give its life for humanity. That, or it just decided to rub itself across Brucette’s front teeth for some reason.

Mike and Kathryn make a dash for an underwater entrance to the control area. They make it in, but Brucette catches up with them, and somehow manages to get a portion of her jaw inside (?), preventing the door being closed – briefly. Mike and Kathryn scramble up into the control room itself. There, it turns out that the others are waiting for Mike’s orders before rescuing the trapped visitors!

This taken care of, we then get the kind of dismal effects sequence that can make someone a Bad Movie fan for life. Picture this if you can: Brucette glides towards the huge window of the control room; she somehow manages to do this without moving a single muscle.

Inside, the observing humans are so terrified, they are all compelled to start moving and screaming in slow motion, the latter with an echo effect. Then, as they begin – slowly – to run away (putting Jaws 3-D one up on Deep Blue Sea, which not only shamelessly ripped off this sequence, but managed to make it stupider), [Brucette!] – still without moving a muscle – somehow contacts the window, which explodes into – [crappily animated fragments!].

Despite what the pressure and weight of the inrushing water must be, and the flying shards of glass, and the danger of electrocution, those inside are not killed or injured, except maybe for the female control technician. They are trapped and submerged, however, but Mike and Kathryn still have their air-tanks on, so they’re okay, at least. Bouchard is seen helping the female technician, although I don’t know where he’s helping her to. A male employee is not so lucky. I know you’re gunna find this hard to believe, but – Brucette kills someone!! Honest! I swear!!

I guess Brucette couldn’t swallow Simon MacCorkindale’s performance either.

As for her victim, he somehow manages to cry out, “NOOOOO!!!!”, despite being under forty feet of water, and in the process of being crunched by a gigantic shark.

Emboldened by her success, Brucette then tries to reach Mike and Kathryn, but becomes jammed in the window frame (which, yes, does mean she should drown). And then we get yet another highlight of a sequence just chock-full of them! As Brucette struggles to reach Our Heroes, we see that FitzRoyce is still stuck in her throat!! And what’s more, he’s still clutching a grenade!

(We note in passing that Brucette could not possibly have swallowed her most recent victim even if she was inclined to do so; clearly, he got spat out off-camera.)

Mike snatches up a random metal rod, bends at at one end to make a hook, and starts trying to pull the pin on the grenade, with Brucette thrashing about, and the humans dodging her, and everyone generally trying to make things “exciting”. At one point, Kathryn swims over the snout of the shark, which hasn’t got room to grab her – rather making you wonder why FitzRoyce didn’t try that in the pipe. Anyway, Mike does finally hook the pin. He and Kathryn take cover, the grenade goes off---and Brucette explodes in a huge welter of blood. 

And then the film kindly gives us one more – just one more – dreadful 3-D effect, as [assorted shark innards!] come hurtling towards the camera....

Astonishingly, the concussive pressure of the blast does Mike and Kathryn no harm whatsoever. They make it to the surface of the lagoon, where the sun is rising. Ooh – purty!

Jaws, geddit??

Kathryn, remarkably, inquires about the other humans first, though really, she's not fooling anyone. Mike assures her they’re fine - how the heck would he know?  Kathryn is then rewarded by having her real concerns answered: Cindy the dolphin suddenly appears. Kathryn celebrates, but then begins to call with increasing desperation for Sandy, who is ominously absent.

And then, just at the very last moment – Sandy explodes out of the water in a [joyous leap!]. Kathryn and Mike both wave their arms and cry out with excitement and relief; and Jaws 3-D concludes in the most appropriate manner imaginable, with the leaping Cindy and Sandy being [crappily superimposed!] over a shot of Kathryn and Mike. Whoo-hoo!!

 
Footnote: Want a second opinion of Jaws 3-D? Visit Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension and 1000 Misspent Hours - And Counting.
 
 
 
Would it have been as funny? I doubt it.
 
----revised 25/08/2012