Face-Off: Jaws 3-D vs Jaws: The Revenge

With the Fourth of July looming here in the states, my thoughts always turn to JAWS, which is the most famous movie to ever take place during the holiday. (Much more so this year since we just celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Steven Spielberg's classic.) If we did a Face-Off with JAWS against practically any other movie, the other movie wouldn't stand a chance; it'd be like a Monster Truck going up against a VW Bug. But that got me thinking about JAWS' much-maligned sequels. Not the second one, because that's not too bad, but JAWS 3-D and JAWS: THE REVENGE - two movies regarded as terrible by most of the population. That said, both have a certain guilty-pleasure charm, making them watchable disasters. Let's brush our teeth, strap on a bib and say "Smile you sonofabitch!" to the two worst JAWS movies and see how they fare!
Martin Brody's son Michael works at Florida's Sea World, where a baby shark unfortunately dies in their care. Wouldn't you know it, the mother of the toothy baby blames the park for her kid's demise, and sets about causing destruction. Good thing there are hyper-intelligent dolphins there to help out!
A direct sequel to JAWS 2, this one finds Martin's widow Ellen visiting her son Michael's house in the Bahamas... only to discover her family is now clearly the target of a revenge-obsessed shark who is apparently peeved about its relatives getting repeatedly iced by the Brody clan.
Brody clan
Michael Brody is played by Dennis Quaid, and while he's a capable leading man, he lacks the rugged charisma and palpable fear Roy Scheider brought to the role of Martin. In fact, most of JAWS 3-D's supporting cast is more interesting than Michael. His brother, Sean, is played by John Putch as sort of a horny teenager with not much going on upstairs. That said, he's infatuated with a young Lea Thompson, which we can all relate to.
One of the (only?) good things you can say about JAWS: THE REVENGE is that Lorraine Gary gives a sympathetic and convincing performance as the tortured Ellen Brody, who not only mourns for her deceased hubby but for her youngest son as well! (Sean bites it early on.) Lance Guest is passable, if unremarkable, as Michael; his most distinguishing characteristic is a very manly beard.
JAWS 3-D doesn't have anything incredibly memorable when compared to the first JAWS in this category, although the shark does literally skin a victim alive (somehow) and leaves the corpse to be found by frightened bystanders. That's cold. She chomps down on a doomed oceanographer pretty good toward the end of the film and lets him hang out of her mouth like the gluttonous fiend she is. A lab tech is also chewed on, but he would have drowned in a flooded room anyway so it's probably for the best.
I won't lie, there's actually something a bit tragic about the death of Sean Brody in the movie's opening passages. Here's the little kid we all remember singing about the Muffin Man being brutally stalked and killed by a Great White, leaving his mom a grieving husk. Aside from that, not much else of note, although THE REVENGE does at one point want us to believe two main characters die during the finale, only to reveal both have miraculously survived.
So-bad-its-good factor
This film is chockfull of preposterous moments, from everything involving the irritating dolphins (seriously, be quiet), to the godforsaken 3D, to the weird way the shark is seemingly able to appear and disappear at will. Dennis Quaid has a mid-movie freakout that is hilarious.
My word, where do we start? How about the fact Ellen and the shark share a psychic connection? How about the fact the shark roars like a lion? How about the way the shark dies, via inexplicably jumping out of the water and being impaled by the ship's bowsprit? (Had to look that word up.) How about the scene where Michael Caine's Hoagie comes out of the water and is almost completely dry?
Special Effects
JAWS 3-D's "special effects" are special, alright. I can't imagine any of this 3-D looking good when the movie was released, let alone now. The shark, what we see of it, often quite literally appears to have waded out of a video game. You'll feel like you're hallucinating some of JAWS 3-D's more absurd visuals; these are 3-D nightmares, not effects.
For the most part, THE REVENGE's shark is serviceable enough, but those brief shots in the finale where we see it lumbering out of the water only to get impaled by the boat are truly dreadful. For reference, check out the uncut ending on YouTube for an even longer look at the special effects travesty.

We knew this would be a rough one. (You'll notice neither movie even "won" the special effects category.) JAWS: THE REVENGE actually comes out victorious, which might be considered blasphemous to some, but let's face it: We're comparing a piece of crap to a floating turd here, so if you really want to argue that JAWS 3-D is better, I'm not going to fight you too hard on it. Main point is this: Both offer up plenty of unintentional laughs, so if you're good and hammered at the end of July 4th, you might want to throw on one of these dead fish and giggle yourself stupid.

Have any ideas for future Face-Offs? Email me at [email protected]!



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