In Praise of Teasers ~ Jaws 3-D (1983)

1

jaws_3d

I have a serious problem with movie trailers lately.  It seems like nearly every preview that’s released is about 2:30 minutes long and gives away almost every aspect of the movie, acting more like a Cliff Notes version of the movie being advertised rather than something to entice an audience into coming back and seeing the full product.

In this day and age where all aspects of a movie are fairly well known before an inch of footage is seen the subtlety of a well crafted “teaser” trailer is totally gone…and I miss it…I miss it a lot. So I decided to go back to some of the teaser trailers I fondly remember and, in a way, reintroduce them. Whether the actual movie was good or bad is neither here nor there…but pay attention to how each of these teasers work in their own special way to grab the attention of movie-goers.

Jaws 3-D (1983)

It had been five years since JAWS 2 was released to boffo box office so the time was probably right for Universal Studios to revisit its popular franchise.  What started as a second sequel intended to be more of a comedy, ala National Lampoon, turned into something different but no less silly.  I have a certain fondness for JAWS 3D with its ugly grainy picture and lame-o 3D effects…maybe it’s because it’s so earnestly goofy now or maybe it’s because JAWS: The Revenge was so much worse but the film has a certain (albeit resistible) charm.

I remember seeing this teaser trailer when YouTube first went up and thinking it was well done.  1983 was the year of the 3D resurgence and I’m sure audiences were unnerved not only about having another reminder about what dangers look in deep water but also wondering how the technique was going to bring that mean ‘ole great white shark into another dimension.   I’m not sure how well the movie played in theaters but having only ever seen it in 2D, I think the intended effect has been lost.

Bonus! 

Check out the teaser for the final nail in the coffin of the Jaws franchise:

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

And check out my reviews of the full slate of Jaws films : JAWS, JAWS 2, JAWS 3-D, JAWS: The Revenge

Missed my previous teaser reviews?  Check out my look at Alien, Misery, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Showgirls, and Jurassic Park!

31 Days to Scare ~ Jaws: The Revenge

jaws_the_revenge

The Facts:

Synopsis: Chief Brody’s widow believes that her family is deliberately being targeted by another shark in search of revenge.

Stars: Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, Michael Caine, Karen Young, Judith Barsi, Mitchell Anderson, Lynn Whitfield

Director: Joseph Sargent

Rated: PG-13

Running Length: 89 minutes

TMMM Score: (1/10)

Review:  It’s somewhat sad that the first Jaws film I ever saw in the theaters was this third sequel and final nail in the coffin of the series (for now).  Remember when the Sunday newspaper would have an ad for movies opening on Friday and a listing of the theaters it would be playing at?  I can vividly recall opening the paper and finding the announcement for Jaws: The Revenge , clipping it out, and keeping it with me all week while begging my parents to take me over the weekend.  Well, my parents and I found ourselves at Yorktown 3 for a Sunday showing and even as a seven year old I knew the film was crap.

Truly the lowest of the low, Jaws: The Revenge is a travesty of a film…one that gets worse with each viewing and is so off the mark that you wonder how anyone involved kept showing up for work day in and day out.  The premise is ridiculous, the direction stale, and the shark is so fake looking you expect to see a Made in Singapore stamp on its rubbery dorsal fin.

Star Lorraine Gary was so enjoyable in Jaws and Jaws 2 as the wife of Chief Brody that it was easy to overlook that in real life she was the spouse of the head of Universal Studios.  Now a widow, Ellen Brody still lives in Amity and her youngest son is following in his father’s footsteps.  One wintery night, Sean Brody answers a call to dislodge some pilings stuck on a buoy and he’s soon gobbled up by a mean ole shark as a choir of townsfolk sings Silent Night, masking his cries for help.  What could have been a reasonably effective opener (after a nice underwater credit sequence) is marred by an already fake looking shark and stilted direction from Joseph Sargent.

The grieving Ellen is convinced the shark intended to kill her son…which is totally logical, right?  Instead of shipping her off to a loony bin, her other son (Lance Guest) encourages her to come down to the Bahamas to clear her mind and spend some time with her granddaughter.  End of movie.  Wait…no…it isn’t?  Oh…OK.  So…Ellen flies off to the Bahamas and our revenge-seeking shark swims all the way from New England to the warm waters of another island town looking for Ellen and her family.

There are so many problems with this scenario that I don’t even need to go over them here.  It simply makes no sense in the least…begging the question why no one raised their hand and said “Um, that’s dumb.”  Even co-star Michael Caine (Now You See Me) missed accepting his Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters because he was filming his gaffe-filled performance as a pilot that takes an interest in Ellen.  So we have about forty minutes where the shark pops up randomly and continues to do things sharks wouldn’t (and couldn’t) do like standing still in the water, leaping out of the water, and roaring like a dinosaur.  It’s laughably bad and is a total affront to the films that came before it…even Jaws 3D.

In a way, I’m glad that Jaws: The Revenge was the last in this series.  Though other shark films have been released over the years there hasn’t yet been another attempt to continue the Jaws legacy.  I’d be up for it if someone had a good idea, talented director, and made use of the original location of Amity Island.  Just please…no more trips to the Bahamas.

31 Days to Scare ~ Jaws 3-D

jaws_3d

The Facts:

Synopsis: The sons of police chief Brody must protect civilians at a Sea World theme park after a gigantic 35-foot shark becomes trapped in the park.

Stars: Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Simon MacCorkindale, Louis Gossett Jr., John Putch, Lea Thompson, P.H. Moriarty

Director: Joe Alves

Rated: PG

Running Length: 99 minutes

TMMM Score: (5/10)

Review:  It’s not that hard to see that this was originally intended to be a comedy in the National Lampoon vibe and titled Jaws 3, People 0.  The trouble is, when the producers got cold feet and went back to making a more serious-minded film, no one told the shark because it gets its fair share of laughs.

One of the first films in the early 80’s to employ the revitalization of 3D technology; I still wouldn’t mind seeing this second sequel in the Jaws franchise the way it was originally projected in the summer of 1983.  Maybe hiding behind some cardboard 3D glasses a more enjoyable film would have emerged because stripped of this gimmick, the movie sinks pretty fast as so many similarly released 3D films did in that era.

The one interesting thing about this entry is its setting.  Moving away from the fictional New England set Amity Island, Jaws 3D takes place at Sea World.  Yeah, you read that right…it’s not Sea Park or Ocean World or something that suggests the famous theme park but the big girl herself.  Nowadays, this kind of movie would never be allowed to film in a place that relies on benign tourism to stay afloat.   What goes on in this film would send a modern mom and dad from Utah running back to Dollywood for their summer vacation.

Directed by Joe Alves who served as the production designer on Jaws and Jaws 2, Jaws 3D once again follows members of the Brody family (sons Michael and Sean) as they happen to be in the very same place where a great white shark gets loose in and around the lagoons of Sea World.  Dennis Quaid (What to Expect When You’re Expecting) and Bess Armstrong are likable enough in their lead roles but it’s strange to see Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr. hemming and hawing as the blustery owner of the property.  He’s not required to do much and he does that just fine.  Lea Thompson and the late Simon MacCorkindale are also on board to add a few colorful touches…not that the film’s gaudy color palette needed them.

The way the movie was filmed with 3D cameras spells trouble when viewing the film in 2D because it’s a rather ugly looking movie that shows its age in nearly every frame.  It’s no wonder this was the first and last film Alves directed, but it’s not so much a failure on his end but rather on the studio itself for making the unwise decision to take the shark out of its familiar surroundings in the first place.

I’ve seen clips of the movie in 3D on YouTube and while some of the effects might have been nice projected 30 feet high, seen on the small screen in 2013 they are not that far removed from a school cut and paste project.  Won’t some local theater dig up a print of this and have a screening so fans of the series too young to  have seen it in theaters can experience it for themselves?  The film won’t magically get better just because the shark will come out of the screen in 3D…but there’s something to be said for seeing a movie as it was intended to be shown.

Until then…I’ll keep watching Jaws 3D and lamenting its poor choices, decent performances, corny effects, and serviceable shark.