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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "Jaws III"



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#1 of 59 OFFLINE   StuartGalbraith

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Posted June 04 2003 - 08:55 PM

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DVD Review – Jaws III
Director, Joe Alves; Executive Producers, Alan Landsburg and Howard Lipstone; Screenplay, Richard Matheson and Carl Gottlieb, based on a story by Guerdon Trueblood; Director of Photography, James A. Contner; Art Directors, Paul Eads and Woody Mackintosh; Editors, Corky Ehlers and Randy Roberts; Music, Alan Parker.
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Simon MacCorkindale, Louis Gossett, Jr., John Putch, Lea Thompson, P.H. Moriarty.
An Alan Landsburg/Universal Studios Production. A Universal Pictures Release. Color (prints by Technicolor). ArriVision 3-D (2.35:1 aspect ratio). 98 minutes. MPAA Rating: PG. Released July 22, 1983.

DVD: Released by Universal Home Video. Street Date June 3, 2003. $19.98
2.35:1/16:9. Dolby Surround. Special Features: Trailer (open matte).

Reviewed by Stuart Galbraith IV

Though not as supremely goofy as Jaws the Revenge (1987), a picture that needs to be seen to be believed, Jaws III has more than its fair share of absurd fun. Aesthetically the picture is an embarrassment, but in the summer of 1983 teenagers ate it up, and seen now 20 years later, it has become as much an artifact of its time as Beach Blanket Bingo was to audiences back then. Did I mention that it was originally in 3-D, too?

The story is set at Florida’s Sea World Theme Park, with most of the action centering on park employee Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid), his biologist girlfriend Kathryn (Bess Armstrong), his kid brother Sean Brody (John Putch), and his water skiing girlfriend Kelly Ann (Lea Thompson). There’s little connection with the first two Jaws, other than the characters of Mike and Sean, but the story borrows liberally from other movies. Much of the story seems derived from Westworld, with guests and technicians trapped in an elaborate, underwater labyrinth when a Great White turns up in Sea World’s lagoon. Apparently some story elements also grew out of Universal’s aborted plans for a combined remake of the 3-D classic Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and its sequel, Revenge of the Creature (1955), which likewise set much of its action at a Sea World-type park/laboratory. In Jaws III the Great White is annoyed that its baby has been turned into a park attraction, an idea lifted from Gorgo (1961).

Sharks aren’t exactly known for their maternal instincts, however, and the two sharks in Jaws III are both phony looking and singularly un-shark-like in their behavior. In a lagoon stocked with myriad fish, would a Great White really vent its anger at Sea World by bursting and eating an empty rubber raft?

In any case, Jaws III is a pretty clunky movie, and not the least bit scary. What worked so well in the first Jaws is not easily duplicated, particularly by 1983, when this type of story had already been imitated and parodied to death. Jaws was successful because it built its suspense with great care, and its makers were cagey enough to keep the shark off screen most of the time. Jaws III shouldn’t be criticized too harshly because it simply isn’t concerned with such matters. It’s not a movie, really, but a show – an attraction not unlike Sea World’s tacky “Undersea Kingdom,” or for that matter the 3-D movies currently playing at real Sea Worlds across the country.

Even by 1983 standards the special effects were quite bad, though it’s easy to see why audiences would have responded so enthusiastically to the 3-D effects. As one might expect, there are plenty things thrown in the direction of the camera lens, which often results in a dreamlike weirdness for those watching the film in regular-D. Audiences, for instance, loved the pre-credits sequence, which concludes with a half-eaten fish head floating weightless in the murky Florida water gasping for air. And late in the film there is an effective scene of a hapless diver being eaten – shot from deep inside the shark’s throat looking out. As a 3-D monster movie, Jaws III deserves credit for delivering the goods.

How is the Transfer?
Jaws III was shot in an “over-and-under” single-film 3-D format called ArriVision. Essentially, the process was akin to Techniscope, using what were basically half-size frames for the left and right images. Added to this were the difficulties in aligning shots for proper 3-D perspective and shooting much of the picture underwater. The result of all this is that panned-and-scanned versions of the film have always looked absolutely dreadful. Universal Home Video’s new DVD is letterboxed and 16:9 enhanced, and the picture probably looks better than it has since it was new. The film is still grainy like films made in standard Techniscope, and the 3-D process resulted in many shots where the image gets fuzzy around the edges, while a few shots are simply and glaringly out-of-focus. On my 50-something-inch widescreen TV, however, these inherit flaws did not distract from my enjoyment of the film. The stereo sound is fine.

Special Features
None, except for an open-matte teaser trailer.

Parting Thoughts
None of the Jaws sequels are any good. Jaws 2 was an uninspired and generally boring rehash, while Jaws the Revenge remains memorable (and pretty entertaining, actually) only for its alarming ineptitude. By default, then, Jaws III is the best of the Jaws sequels. Compared to Spielberg’s film it sucks rocks, but as drive-in fodder, for its 3-D thrills Jaws III is reasonably enjoyable.


#2 of 59 OFFLINE   LaMarcus

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Posted June 04 2003 - 11:25 PM

Thanks for the review Stuart. Can I make a small suggestion?
How about structuring the specs of the dvd a little bit, simply because it's easier to notice.

For example:

DVD

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Sound format:Dolby Surround.
Special Features: Trailer (open matte).
Released by: Universal Home Video.

Street Date: June 3, 2003. ($19.98)


Again, just a suggestion.Posted Image

#3 of 59 OFFLINE   JeffreyMercado

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Posted June 05 2003 - 01:02 AM

I remember going to see this in a movie theater in Brooklyn. I was 7, my dad made us leave because I kept jerking back when somthing 3D would come at me. I thought that was the point of the movie. You can't argue with parents. I enjoyed your review. Can I make a small suggestion? Keep those reviews coming. I have to go look up ineptitude now.

#4 of 59 OFFLINE   Will K

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Posted June 05 2003 - 01:54 AM

Very nice review, even though I personally find J3 unwatchable.

Just curious, are you planning on using screenshots in the future?
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#5 of 59 OFFLINE   Steve K.H.

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Posted June 05 2003 - 02:57 AM

The last paragraph said it all... thanks and sorry you had to suffer through it. Posted Image

(note: Please use bold type set for headings and initial feature / description) Posted Image

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#6 of 59 OFFLINE   Jason Adams

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Posted June 05 2003 - 03:05 AM

Ah...so some of you are still getting over Ron's reviews? Posted Image

#7 of 59 OFFLINE   Matt<>Broon

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Posted June 05 2003 - 03:06 AM

Quote:
Just curious, are you planning on using screenshots in the future?


I don't believe he is, Ron said they took up way too much bandwith in his introductory post. Posted Image

Nonetheless a great review of a DVD I'm fairly sure I don't want. Posted Image

(Note : I'd agree with some other comments people have made regarding formatting. Breaking up the sections with bold or large type would be greatly appreciated.)
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#8 of 59 OFFLINE   Haden

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Posted June 05 2003 - 04:19 AM

I may get this, cuz it's great cheesy fun. Especially Louis Gossett Jr's classic line, "You sayin' that shark is the baby shark's mutha?!"

Hehe Posted Image

#9 of 59 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted June 05 2003 - 04:37 AM

Thanks for the great review, but i think this is only worth a rental to me, and once again welcome aboard.Posted Image
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#10 of 59 OFFLINE   Nate Anderson

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Posted June 05 2003 - 04:55 AM

I always kinda liked Jaws 2...even if it was a rehash, the scenes with the kids and the sailboats were sufficently unnerving to me, at least when I was younger...

But Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw were sorely missed when the film was on land...geez...
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#11 of 59 OFFLINE   Haden

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Posted June 05 2003 - 05:28 AM

Yeah, it's a shame Robert Shaw couldn't appear in Jaws 2. Oh wait, he died in the first movie! Oh well... Quint's ghost would have been a cool character. Posted Image

Dreyfus and Spielberg both wanted to do Jaws 2, but scheduling wouldn't permit it since they were both doing Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind that year.

#12 of 59 OFFLINE   Scott Temple

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Posted June 05 2003 - 06:13 AM

Quote:
I always kinda liked Jaws 2...even if it was a rehash, the scenes with the kids and the sailboats were sufficently unnerving to me, at least when I was younger... But Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw were sorely missed when the film was on land...geez...

I believe Jaws 2 is a great film and definitely the best of the sequels. It seems to always get knocked for being a rehash, but I like it because it is so similar to the original. It's a nice continuation of the first film with Amity, Roy Scheider, and the shark. Losing Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw didn't really bother me too much (Shaw couldn't have returned anyway) because Roy Scheider always seemed like the true star of the films anyway. Plus, they got Murray Hamilton and Lorraine Gary to return too. As for Jaws 3 and Jaws 4: The Revenge, well, I never really cared for those.

*someone at Universal must feel the same way. Jaws and Jaws 2 both received some pretty nice extras on their DVDs. Jaws 3 and Jaws 4: The Revenge got trailers-only.

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#13 of 59 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted June 05 2003 - 06:39 AM

No 3-D, no sale! Posted Image
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#14 of 59 OFFLINE   Steve Phillips

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Posted June 05 2003 - 08:46 AM

This one is full of ridiculous dialogue!

For the record, the title of the film is JAWS 3-D. The theatrical prints (and the Japanese 3-D discs) carry this title on screen. The video versions have RE-titled the film JAWS III.

Get it? Third film, Third Dimension, hence the clever title JAWS 3-D?

#15 of 59 OFFLINE   Paul Arnette

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Posted June 05 2003 - 09:05 AM

Stuart,

Thanks for the review! I am very sorry you had to debut with this clunker.

I would also like to suggest formating the review a bit more, bold, etc, to make sections such as the Transfer, etc. more easily identifiable. Perhaps Ron could show you his formating.

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#16 of 59 OFFLINE   Joel C

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Posted June 05 2003 - 02:03 PM

The third Spy Kids is called Spy Kids 3-D. Hopefully THAT will be in 3-D on DVD.
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#17 of 59 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted June 05 2003 - 02:10 PM

Thanks for the review Stuart. Personally, I also think that Jaws 2 is the best of the sequels. Jaws 3 is substantially worse.....I'd only buy it if the 3-D was put back in the film. As it stands, no thanks Universal...try again.
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#18 of 59 OFFLINE   JeremySt

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Posted June 05 2003 - 02:12 PM

Bummer. No screenshots. That was always I big part of the reviews for me. Oh well. I may have to snag this one if I find it for under $10. Im a sucker for campy thrills.

#19 of 59 OFFLINE   CoreyII

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Posted June 05 2003 - 07:56 PM

Nice review Stuart. Considering that Jaws 2 at least kept the story on Amity Island which in itself is a character, the film therefore retained much of the feel of the original film.

On top of that Roy Schieder, Murray Hamilton( I believe Jaws 2 was his last film before he passed away), and Lorraine Gary (altougth she couldn't save Jaws 4) all came back. Because of those reasons alone Jaws 2 is vastly superior to numbers 3 and 4.

As a matter of fact if Richard Dreyfusss had come back Jaws 2 may have had a better shot at being as good as its predecessor.

Oh I almost forgot, welcome aboard.

#20 of 59 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted June 05 2003 - 08:08 PM

i make no apologies for liking Jaws 2.
i think its a fine sequel, especially by 2003 standards.
there is a lot of screen-time spent on whats going on in Brodys head vs the teen angle, and even they operate like they have some brain matter functioning.
not a perfect sequel and maybe not a great movie on its own, but solid popcorn fare offering some good adult performances.

J3 on the other hand, i've always felt was a steaming pile being unredeemed even with the 3-d effects ( i scored tickets for my friends and i to see it on opening day and nobody was impressed).

Jaws 3, Return of the jedi, and Superman 3.
that pretty much sums up the early 80s pop cinema to me.

i'll stay behind in the 70s, thanks just the same.





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