• Kelly M. Hudson

Chompin' For a Third Time!

About a dozen years after the events of Jaws and Jaws 2, the Brody kids Mike (Dennis Quaid) and Sean (John Putch) are all growed up. Mike works for Sea World down in Florida and has a hot squeeze named Kathryn (Bess Armstrong) who trains the dolphins and the whales for the shows. The whole park is run by Calvin Bouchard (Louis Gossett, Jr.) a rich and shady man who’s looking to turn a few bucks. Well, as (bad) luck would have it, a great white shark gets near the area and effectively trapped inside the waters of the park and Mike and Kathryn decide to capture it and put it on display. The park, not open for the season, is gearing up, with lots of water-ski show practices and a new underwater complex yet to be premiered. A captive shark would really set things off. They have opening day and things go awry. The shark dies in captivity and it’s around this time that the mother of the now-dead shark comes looking for its baby. Can Mike and the park staff stop this bigger, deadlier shark before it runs rampage over the vacationing patrons of Sea World?

I saw this in the theater way back when, in 3-D, and I remembered liking it. I maybe saw it once on cable since then, but I was excited to revisit it. After all, Dennis Quaid was in it, so was Louis Gossett, Jr., and so was Lea Thompson, an old high school crush of mine. Also, I discovered Richard Matheson co-wrote the screenplay, so that got me even more excited. The movie is pretty decent. I imagine on the big screen, all those wide-angle shots of the ski team doing their formations looked amazing. I also imagine that the 3-D effects looked less cheesy, and the green-screen wasn’t so obvious, because oh, boy, does this puppy look dated. Badly dated. You know what, though? Its heart was in the right place. There was the occasional floating severed fish head in a pool of blood, as well as later shots of human arms and hands and blown-up shark bits. They tried to give you your money’s worth, so bless ‘em for it. The story is fairly hokey and so is the acting, but it’s all good fun and moves along swiftly. My biggest complaint was the PG rating. If they’d done an R cut, this could have been something special. There were several scenes when the big shark could have just mown through large swaths of people, chomping them up in gushing plumes of blood. But each time the filmmakers pulled back and chose to let people escape “at the last second.” Disappointing, but we are dealing with Hollywood here, not Roger Corman. That man would have allowed a massive massacre, and that’s just what would have set this film apart.

All in all, it’s a fun little movie. The action is decent, the occasional ghastly moments are effective, and its heart is in the right place. This is a good movie to pass a lazy afternoon with, and nothing more. An easy 3-star if they’d just added some more carnage.

Two and a Half Stars out of Four

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