Jaws might not have been impressive as I had hoped, but understanding the cultural, and box office, impact it has had puts it in a different light versus others. The film might lack substance but it more than makes up for it in well-rounded characters, great casting and impressive practical effects.
Genre(s): Suspense, Thriller
Universal | PG – 124 min. – $29.98 | August 14, 2012
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Writer(s): Peter Benchley (novel); Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb
Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary
Theatrical Release Date: June 20, 1975
Features: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Trailer, BD-Live, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), English (DTS 2.0), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Disc Size: 44.6 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 4.25/5
One of the most successful and prolific films of the 1970s, Jaws changed cinema forever ushering a new kind of entertainment which has since been replicated countless times, some with success others… not so much. It also had a profound effect on audiences in 1975 where folks would actually be afraid to get into a pool let alone the ocean, not to mention the perception (often false) on sharks which permeate to this day.
The story is relatively simple – also a change-up from movies with deeper storylines – meeting Martin Brody (ROY SCHEIDER), chief of the small island town of Amity who is called out to investigate the disappearance of a young woman who, when the movie opens, went skinny-dipping and, well, encountered our killer shark who made lunch meat out of the beauty. Upon finding her remains, and getting a determination from the medical examiner, it was from a shark attack, Brody wants to close the beaches but finds resistance from the mayor and town council since the Fourth of July was upon them, a financial boost to the town; they even go so far to have the M.E. change the cause of death to a boat accident. I’m sure this won’t bite them in the ass… pardon the pun.
Then when a young boy is attacked, the boy’s mother places a $3,000 bounty on the killer shark, one taken up by the townsfolk plus professional shark hunter Quint (ROBERT SHAW), though his fee is higher. The amateurs go out and a short while later, capture what is believe to be the killer shark, much to the relief of the mayor and even Brody who all pose for a picture. But Marine biologist Matt Hooper (RICHARD DREYFUSS), whom Brody called in for his expertise, isn’t so sure since the shark, a tiger shark, is the culprit.
Meanwhile, unconvinced they got the right culprit Brody and Hooper gut the tiger shark and lo and behold, its stomach contents do not contain the remains of the young boy killed earlier. They then do some shark hunting at night and come upon a semi-submerged boat caused, on closer inspection, by a sizeable bite in its hull. Without any evidence that there still is a killer shark on the loose, the mayor refuses to cancel the festivities and opens up the beaches and encourages people that it’s fine to go back into the water; a wise move if I ever saw one!
But when there’s another attack, and another body, the mayor authorizes to hire Quint and pay his $10,000 fee, though Brody insists that he and Hooper go along on the hunt. Together they brave the waters and try every trick in the book to capture, and kill, the elusive Jaws but that shark has other plans and won’t make it easy for the trio.
You can probably guess the rest even if you haven’t seen it, but needless to say there’s a lot of tension building for the final act and its memorable finale which, according to documentaries, Spielberg didn’t even direct due to fear of a possible prank by the crew.
Alright, so what about Jaws the movie? Personally while I think it’s a technically sound movie and one very well made no matter when it was filmed, though major kudos for keeping the suspense despite not even seeing the shark in action, at least seeing him (her?), until the final 20-minutes. However, in spite of appreciating some of the more technical aspects, I can’t say I was enamored with the movie compared with others. No doubt it’s an entertaining and well made film, but otherwise it just didn’t do it for me. This isn’t to say there isn’t anything to admire, just keep expectations in check.
Casting wise, Spielberg and company did a bang-up job with Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, all three of whom share an unusual and tense on-screen chemistry.
Even though I didn’t find Jaws to be the masterpiece compared with others, I do acknowledge and understand the cultural impact it has had on people’s perceptions on sharks, the fear of the water which infiltrated the public’s minds when it was released and how studios approached making summer movies which in turn probably led to the dumb films we get today (looking at you Battleship). In any case, the movie is a lot of fun and although it is limited in substance, it more than makes up for it in entertainment value.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
The Blu-ray comes housed in a standard Blu-ray case with a glossy, fold-out slip cover. The fold out merely contains minor info on the project.
Deleted Scenes and Outtakes (13:33; SD) is a collection of scenes, and outtakes, which don’t offer much and wouldn’t have added much, if at all, to the final cut. Of course, it’s nice to see them here.
The Making of Jaws (2:02:48; SD) – This massive, feature-length documentary takes the viewer through each aspect of making the film containing interviews with Steven Spielberg, Author Peter Benchley, Stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and many others. If only other making-of featurettes were this well put together; it’s well worth the time to watch.
The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws (1:41:21; SD) is a new, 10-part, retrospective featurette, narrated by Roy Scheider, which has been worked on for many years and compiles behind-the-scenes footage/pictures and audio from the set. It goes over many of the complications that permeated the shooting as well as the cultural impact it had then and today. This features new interviews with the cast and crew (inc. Dreyfuss, Spielberg, Scheider, Benchley, etc) and others not directly associated (Kevin Smith). ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Jaws: The Restoration (8:28; HD) is a short but fascinating featurette showing how the film was restored to pristine condition.
From the Set (8:56; SD) is an archive featurette with old footage from the 1974 filming.
Under Jaws Archives there are Storyboards, Production Photos, Marketing Jaws (posers and ads), Jaws Phenomenon with overseas advertising.
Theatrical Trailer (3:15; SD)
This release also contains an UltraViolet Digital Copy and a Digital Copy download code for iTunes. And there’s also a BD-Live (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) portal.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Jaws swims and bites on Blu-ray for the first time with an amazing looking, fully-restored 1080p transfer. The picture is pristine, free of dust, scratches and other flaws that tend to permeate older films like this. The color array also looks incredible along with the detail level which is absolutely fantastic. They painstakingly restored the picture and didn’t just do a half-ass (i.e. cheap) transfer like so many other studios have done.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
Also an amazing upgrade is the disc’s 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. With 7 channels, you get full immersed with John William’s signature Jaws theme to go along with strong dialogue levels from the center channel and ambient noises (often water) from the front and rear channels. Together with the video, any cinephile will be more than satisfied with the transfer.
OVERALL – 4.5/5
Overall, Jaws might not have been impressive as I had hoped, but understanding the cultural, and box office, impact it has had puts it in a different light versus others. The film might lack substance but it more than makes up for it in well-rounded characters, great casting and impressive practical effects. The Blu-ray has great audio and video transfers and an remarkable amount of special features that will keep you busy.