Jaws 3--and Jaws 3D--Finally Arrive on Blu-Ray

It took 33 years, but it finally has happened. Thanks to high-definition video technology, Jaws 3 can at last be seen in the way it was originally meant to be seen, courtesy of Universal's recent release of the sequel on Blu-ray. Click below to read my full review.

I've lost track of how many times I've seen Jaws and Jaws 2, but I've only seen Jaws 3 twice in 2D. Every other time I've seen it after that was in a different 3D format--anaglyph, field sequential, and in the theater--to figure out which one was the best. Based on what I've seen before, the 3D version included in the new Jaws 3 Blu-ray is the best of the bunch. There's very little shadowing and most of the pop-out effects work beautifully; it even looks sharper, more colorful and less grainy than the 2D version that's on the same disc. Unfortunately, the notorious shark-through-the-window shot from the film's climax still doesn't look right, and I doubt it ever will until someone either reshoots it with practical effects or gives it a complete CGI makeover.

In light of how great the 3D is on this Blu-ray, the omission of any extra features on the disc feels so much more conspicuous. In fact, the 3D version of Jaws 3 is the only extra feature on this disc, and it can only be accessed through the disc's extras menu. You can't even use the scene selection menu for the 3D version, although the chapter stops are the same in both the 2D and 3D versions.

Just by taking a look at the cover (see above), consumers could be forgiven for not knowing that this Blu-ray has anything involving 3D. The 3D feature is only mentioned on the back of the box, on a thin red banner just above the credits. Such passive labeling stands in complete contrast to how the Universal originally marketed the film in 1983, when the 3D format was the key selling point; there was no way you could see this film back then without knowing that it was in 3D. Tie-in merchandise included a Jaws 3D poster in anaglyph 3D, Jaws 3D trading cards in anaglyph 3D, and a hand-held, battery-powered Jaws 3D video game in 3D. The film's marketing campaign even included billboards with letters and a shark head in 3D. Yet for this Blu-ray, we get Jaws 3 on the cover and not Jaws 3D.

Above: A three-dimensional teaser display for Jaws 3D.
Below: An anaglyph 3D card from the Jaws 3D trading card series.

I'm sure that some marketing guru from Universal has an explanation for this, with pie charts and line graphs "proving" that the release of this sequel with no extras and minimal attention to its 3D viewing option would yield the best return on investment (as opposed to releasing separate 2D and 3D versions). Nevertheless, had Universal partnered with another company such as 3D Film Archive, this would have been a much better product. It could have included a featurette about the 3D photography and special effects for Jaws 3D, or perhaps a mini-documentary about Hollywood's brief revival of 3D movies during the early '80s. Even a lenticular cover featuring the original Jaws 3D poster art would have been welcome.

Most live-action films today are converted to 3D in post-production using CGI. This common practice places films that are actually shot in 3D (i.e., native 3D) in the minority, even though native 3D films provide a superior viewing experience. Jaws 3D comes from a time when native 3D was the only option and even though it’s not the best Jaws sequel that was ever made, it is one of the best 3D films from its decade. I would recommend this Blu-ray for Jaws franchise completists and 3D cinema fans who are looking for a crisp Blu-ray release of a native 3D film from the '80s, even though this release has no extras for 3D fans to add to their enjoyment.


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