At this point, I'm not entirely sure what can be said about Jaws that hasn't already been said, but I'll give it a try. Jaws not only launched the career of one Steven Spielberg, it single handedly gave rise to the notion of the 'summer blockbuster', which has remained a constant over the prevailing 35 years since its release.
The storyline is simple, perhaps even painfully so. When a shark starts systematically taking lives on Amity beach, grizzled sailor Quint (Robert Shaw) and biologist Hopper (Richard Dreyfuss) set out to destroy the shark before it takes more. But it's clear this isn't just any shark - its thirst for blood is only matched by its keen intellect and calculatory menace.
To the uninitiated, there may not appear anything wholly exceptional about Jaws. Indeed, similar to other iconic films such as Star Wars or The Matrix, what made it special has been borrowed, tweaked or stolen in the intervening years. But Jaws pioneered many elements we now take for granted. The slow build. Fleeting glimpses of the phantom threat. The simple and alternating two note chord which makes up the main shark theme has so intrinsically become linked with the sea that it's as if it existed before the film.
But going back to Jaws some 35 years later, it's clear that lightning was bottled. Like it or loathe it, Jaws shaped the cultural zeitgeist like few before or after.
Jaws is presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with AVC MPEG-4 compression.
The notoriously penny pinching Universal Pictures are certainly not adverse to smearing some digital noise reduction on aging elements and sending it off to market, even for high profile releases such as Back To The Future and Jurassic Park. Thank God then, that Jaws has not met a similar fate.
After years of mediocre transfers from aging elements, Universal have gone back to the original film elements and struck a new 4K transfer, with spectacular results. The grain and film noise that have marred previous laserdisc and DVD releases have been significantly improved, and a fine layer of film grain gently reminds the viewer that this is indeed a film, and not a direct-to-video nasty.
Colour is very good, with uniformity that I've never see attributed to the film before. It's also very sharp, with some great detail. And there are very few film artifacts - this has been some wonderful restoration work.
There has been some, mostly tongue in cheek commentary that the new transfer would be relatively unforgiving to the undisputed star of the film, the shark, but I'm happy to say it holds up rather well. Overall, a very pleasant transfer, but compared to how the film has historically looked, it might be a little too much for some.
Jaws is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, at 24 bits and also the original stereo track in DTS 2.0 stereo.
I'm not sure how they did it, but Jaws sounds good. Real good. There's freshness to the soundtrack which I didn't expect. Whilst some of the dialogue betrayed evidence of ADR, this is wholly unsurprising considering the difficulties inherent in its shooting locations.
I initially suspected that some of the foley sound effects had been re-recorded, but all I can assume is that the original effects have been re-laid on the mix from original elements. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just doesn't sound like an old film anymore. Quite amazing.
The iconic score by John Williams is mixed well with some nice surround effects.
Jaws hits Blu-ray with a supplemental collection which favors quality, not quantity. It's also worth noting the limited-time digibook packaging which comes with a nice glossy book.
First up is not one, but two feature length documentaries, the first a hangover from the original laserdisc The Making of Jaws, and the 30th anniversary The Shark Is Still Working, the former of which is a renowned production from Laurent Bouzereau, in its original laserdisc length, and the latter, the darling of the Jaws fan community, which finally sees a release after doing the film festival circuit. Both documentaries are fantastic and reveal an immense amount of detail to the film's production, especially regarding its pained production. All up, these total almost four hours of footage and more than make up for the lack of audio commentary. Quite amazing.
Next are two featurettes, the first; Jaws: The Restoration takes a brief look at the production of the film's new transfer, including on-camera snippets with Steven Spielberg, who reveals he oversaw the remaster and then we have an original EPK entitled From the Set which is somewhat of a time warp to 1974.
Spielberg films generally don't feature Deleted Scenes, but we have approximately 13 minutes here, mostly superfluous outtakes, but they do feature a few nuggets of interest. Finally, we have the original Theatrical Trailer in somewhat sad standard definition.
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