BluRay/DVD Reviews

JAWS

By • Jul 16th, 2000 •

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Seeing JAWS on DVD is a lot like having the girl you had a crush on in 4th grade come back to visit you 25 years later, having just appeared as Centerfold of The Month. Much the same case of stunned surprise can be made for purchasing this DVD – the first decent way to watch JAWS since those of us who are old enough to have seen it in its theatrical run.

As what could arguably be called the first modern summer blockbuster, JAWS in 1975 was more than a film, it was a sociological phenomena. Back then people weren’t used to standing on line for an hour to see a film, and rarely do now since the advent of several thousand more multiplex theaters. But line up they did. In the “Summer of 75” JAWS owned the movies, and any conversation remotely involving the substance water. Since then, every single way it had been released, I have owned; laserdisc, video, and they have all simply sucked. Why? No widescreen, poor mono audio, lack of resolution, you name it. Seeing this marvelous anniversary DVD makes me want to climb into a wrestling ring, wave a championship belt high in the air and yell, “Finally the Rock has come back to JAWS” It took 25 years to get it right, but it’s more than just “right,” it’s actually far better than the original film. How? 5.1 stereo surround! Wait a minute…JAWS was a monophonic movie. It predated Mr. Dolby and the stereo surround movie revolution, so are we talking about some mislabeling or some cheap marketing attempt to pass mono off as 5.1 digital? Nope, it’s true. Why they didn’t make a bigger advertising claim about this sensational achievement I’ll never know. It’s not “killer surround” but it sure ain’t Dad’s mono either. It’s so rare, I dare you to name another movie that was theatrically shown only in mono that has been remixed to real 5.1 stereo. Yellow Submarine is a good answer and is an audio mindblower now on DVD, but the 4 lads from Liverpool didn’t have to contend with great whites in the Sea of Green. In JAWS on DVD, you do.

The 5.1 soundtrack and the widescreen anamorphic transfer makes JAWS a modern sounding and looking movie. Which means now it can really scare the “ship” out of you.Ê It seems like it could have been released this summer except for the noticeable lack of “fart jokes.” In addition to a nearly pristine 2.35 picture and a much more involving soundtrack, there are endless goodies in this package from Universal. Deleted scenes, outtakes, a screensaver, storyboards, games, trailers, and a documentary on its making are all on board. The missing scenes won’t make you wish they had kept them in the original cut, as they can best be described in fish terms as “chum,” but all are curiosities nonetheless to see never before glimpsed conversations with Roy Scheider’s now legendary portrayal of a shark killing sheriff who is afraid of the water. Another nice touch is the main screen menu being the buoy from the heart pounding opening scene as it hauntingly floats in the bay at night awaiting your remote control’s command on which way to swim.

But it’s the film itself that is the prize catch here. Speilberg’s precise direction, Benchley’s classic sea yarn and everybody’s superb acting will make it seem like you’ve never seen this film before. And if you never have…don’t say I didn’t warn you… After seeing this DVD on a good home theater system I dare you to take a night swim in any body of water anywhere on earth. After 1/4 century it is still the ultimate sea and shark movie in spite of all the new digital special effects possible in Deep Blue Sea and The Perfect Storm

So rejoice film collectors. Here’s a collector’s addition finally worthy of the name. Add this film to your list of DVDs you must take with you if you move to a deserted island – on second thought, maybe a bad idea. Because with JAWS on DVD, you will remember the true meaning of the slogan “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.”

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