Jaws 3-D

Even though I was born in 1980 and was raised in the 80’s, I still missed out on a lot of things. I was not old enough to remember the release of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (although my mother told me that she took me to see Jedi and I loved it.). I was also not old enough to be part of the slasher film boom of the early 80’s. (I was old enough to be a part of the resurgence of the

slasher film in the mid-to-late 90’s. Oh so many bad films came out of the era. The original slasher boom at its fair share of turds, but the 90’s boom had so many more.)

What I am trying to get at is I wish that I was old enough for one of those events. Discovering films from the past is great and all, but imagine watching Friday the 13th for the first time when it was released. I think my head would explode. I watch Blood Rage or My Bloody Valentine, today, I get a sense of nostalgia. They are great films, but I would have loved to have been old enough to these films on the big screen, with an audience, for the first time. That would have been a great experience.
Now imagine watching Jaws for the first time. Sitting in the theater with a group of strangers as the girl on screen is running towards to beach, undressing as she goes. She finally hits the water and then she gets eaten. There is more suspense in the film than that, but you get where I am going with this. This is unlike anything you have ever seen before. Two hours later, you walk out of the theater in a daze. You know you will have horrible nightmares, but you loved the film. It scared you but good. You are now a lifelong fan of Jaws, shark films, Steven Spielberg, you name it.

Now it is 1983. You have sat through one Jaws sequel already (Jaws 2) and you liked it. It paled in the shadow of the first film, but it told a decent story and told it pretty well. Now you are in the theater for Jaws 3-D. You have on some funky glasses when the film starts. The film starts and the credits come out at you. Ok, this is not terrible. Then some guy gets eaten, his arm floats under the water. Not too bad. There is a lot of things shoved at the camera and lingered on. What is the point of this outside of the 3-D?

Then, close to the end of the film, the shark aims itself at the underwater control center. She (the shark is female) aims towards the control center window where Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr., among others, are stationed. The shark swims makes a beeline towards that window. You and the characters know that shark is coming through that window. The characters look at the shark. Each one of them in slow motion say different things. Dennis Quad says the obvious. “SHARK!!!” he cries as if we didn’t know that already. The shark moves closer to the window until BOOM! the shark comes crashing through the window.

Among the characters in the control room is a black man. He has been in that control room since the beginning of the film. He has been making sure that everything goes smoothly for the big Sea World event going on up top. He is the man who answers every call to that control room. He is the boss of the control room. When the shark comes crashing into the control room and has to make a quick decision: “Who do I eat first?”. Since the film is shot and set in the 80’s, there is only one answer: One of the two black characters. You have Louis Gossett Jr, one of few black actors ever to win an Academy Award and has graced us with his presence in such films as The Deep and J.D.’s Revenge and also starred in the cultural phenomenon that is Roots. And then you have the actor playing the control room guy. He has been in so many things that he doesn’t even have a name.

The shark has to make this a quick decision as the film is almost over, but the choice in the shark’s head is in slow motion. Finally, the shark comes to a decision: The control room guy has been chosen and is taken out without much fanfare. The characters don’t notice that he is gone even though he was the controller of everything from the control room. You would think that he was loved based on how the characters interacted with him. Shit, the lead actress, upon entering the control room right before “SHARK!!”, leans on the back of his chair and looks over his shoulder to see what is going on. Not everyone will do that. You would think that that meant that they at least knew each other.

With the exit of the control room guy, the film can end properly. Something happens, you are not sure what it is, and the shark blows up. That’s right. The shark blows up for no reason. It is probably something that was hinted at earlier in the film, but you weren’t paying attention to it. Either that or the shark blew up when she realized that she had eaten the control room guy and thus could not live anymore with the guilt. We will never know.

With the shark blown up to 3-D pieces, the heroes swim up to the top and wait for their dolphin friends. (By the way, there two dolphins who are friends with the leads and tried to warn them about the shark.) One of the dolphins comes swimming to the surface, happily greeted by its friend/master. The female lead asks where the other dolphin is. The dolphin gives a sad look and shakes its head. The two leads grow sad when, all of a sudden and a complete shock to the entire audience (sarcasm), the second dolphin enters the frame and everyone is happy. So happy, in fact, that they all freeze in a weird combination of composite shots.

The film has ended. You take off those damn glasses, swearing never to go see a 3-D film again. (Months later, with the release of Amityville 3-D, you brake that promise. You regret it.) As you walk out of the theater, you think about the film. Was it any good? Why were the effects so terrible? Why 3-D? You come up with an answer that you will tell you friends when they mock you the next day. The acting was questionable and the effects were terrible, but there was something about the film that didn’t make it all bad. Also, some of the photography was nice. Overall, it was just so-so. It could have been worse. It could have been Jaws: The Revenge.

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