JAWS is one of the most iconic fright flicks of the sinister seventies, and as is befitting a creature classic like this, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is givin’ the auld toothy fellow the 4k Ultra treatment… which I just so happen to have in front of my eerie eyeballs as we speak… err, read… whatever…
For the none of you that are unfamiliar with JAWS, the story can be boiled down as follows: the beachfront summer destination of Amity up New England way is having a bit of trouble as the summer season nears, and with it the big July 4th celebration… people just keep getting eaten by a rather large shark; not exactly what you’d expect from a small Maine town.
Naturally the town’s mayor is not going to let common sense get in the way of the almighty dollar, and he’s prepared to let things go on as usual (an opinion only bolstered by the discovery and elimination of a dangerous tiger shark in the waters… regardless that the animal is too small to have caused the damage on display) much to the chagrin of the town’s New York City transplant Sheriff, Brody (Roy Scheider), and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), the young shark expert he’s called in.
Thankfully the town has a shark hunter at their disposal… for a huge fee, drunken madman Quint (Robert Shaw) will get them the head, the tail, the whole damn thing; and he’s bringing Brody and Hooper with him… and he’ll need ’em too if he expects to haul in the mammoth Great White that’s using the citizens as his own private buffet!
JAWS is simply put one of the best horror blockbusters of all-time, from the man who would become synonymous with event pictures for years to come, Steven Spielberg (directing from a script courtesy of Carl Gottlieb and Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel the film is based upon)… who absolutely fills the picture with all of the classic creature feature scares horror hounds salivate for, along with plenty of suspense… and what makes it all believable, plenty of expertly crafted character development.
Speaking of just that, Scheider, Dreyfuss, and Shaw are absolutely phenomenal to behold; especially as they interact on Shaw’s boat later in the film as the hunt for the shark amps up to it’s apex… they absolutely become their characters wholesale… especially Shaw who steals every scene he is in as the hard drinkin’, completely unpredictable Shaw.
Now, over the years some folks have had a wild hair up their ass about the effect utilized to bring the picture’s antagonist to life… but to that I say “bullshit”! The shark as portrayed is giant, dead eyed, and looks as though he actually weighs a ton (probably because the prop did)… what I’m saying is he has weight, presence, and a sense of physically “being there” that would be eliminated if he were brought to life with the razzle-dazzle computer wizardry of today.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the memorable, and now legendary, score provided by John Williams… you’d be hard pressed to find some one that doesn’t know the familiar “duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun” and associates it with sharks… even if they haven’t seen the picture!
So there you have it; JAWS is one hell of a monsterpiece that deserves a place in any creepy collection… and I’m sure one of the film’s numerous past releases already has a home there… but therein lies the eternal question; “Why should I double (or triple) dip on ol’ joltin’ JAWS?”
The answer to that is simple. Look, I’m the least tech-oriented dude you’ll ever find… but holy hell the quality of this 4K release is absurd! The picture looks amazing, the sound is incredible… I have never seen this picture look better, and I saw it in it’s original release (yeah, I’m older than shit… get off my lawn!)… so if your’s cruelly actually notices how good somethin’ looks you just know the folks behind this conversion did something incredibly right!
So the film is great, the 4K conversion is excellent… what else do you need? Don’t answer that yet… let me tell ya about the special features contained on this release!
First of all, along with the 4K Ultra version of the film, you also get a Blu-ray and digital copies of the feature. Also included are: a host of deleted scenes (including a side-splitting sequence involving Shaw and a kid trying to play the flute), a truly epic two hour documentary covering the entirety of the film’s production, a series of shorts that examine the film’s enduring legacy (which run over an hour and forty minutes when watched all together!), a piece on the restoration of JAWS, archival footage from the set, image galleries (focusing on storyboards, production photos, marketing, and foreign marketing respectively), and the film’s theatrical trailer.
Simply put; this is a fantastic visual upgrade to an all-time creature-feature classic and it deserves a place on your sinister shelf pronto!
*Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a copy of a film and promotional materials for this review