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Jaws (1975) - 45th Anniversary Edition - 4K UHD Review

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Jaws

With streaming now taking the lion’s share of the average household’s attention, it is getting harder and harder for the studios to entice us for yet another dip at their titles; especially when a great many of them are but a single click away on our smart TVs. It is wildly believed that physical home media is gasping its last with 4K discs, and, as always there are multitudes of factors as to whether these offerings are worth the cost or the room.

"a classic in every sense of the word; a masterpiece that transcends any generation to be upheld as nothing short of storytelling perfection incarnate"


 

I could write ten articles on the benefits of both sides of the argument; depending on the movie, I sometimes flutter to-and-fro between those arguments myself. But as a life-long consumer of everything from VHS to now, every now and then a title arrives to remind me why there is still a wall in my house dedicated to home media. Jaws is one these examples.

It was the mid-seventies, the end of the Vietnam War, a dark period of history, and in keeping with that period: a dark narrative of films. 1975 would see a shift from the anti-hero and give birth to the American summer blockbuster. After that summer the world would fear the water, would relish in the horror of Jaws, and would never forget the name Steven Spielberg again.

Based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name, Jaws tells the story of a newly elected Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider) in the throw of his first summer on Amity Island. When the near consumed body of a young woman washes up on the beach, Brody is thrown into a confluence of political agenda and his motivations to protect and serve. Failing to remember who and what he is, and cow-towing to a greedy Mayor more interested in ‘summer dollars’ than people’s safety, Brody is forced to change tact when a Great White Shark continues to use Amity as its own personal buffet. After yet another death, Brody forces the mayor to hire Quint, an eccentric shark hunter (Robert Shaw), and Hooper, a young shark expert (Richard Dreyfuss) to take the predator out. Aboard the hunter’s rickety old boat, conflicts and insanity ensue amongst the three shipmen, with Quint mercilessly antagonistic and Hooper young and quick tempered. Isolated and in the middle of ocean, when their unhappy little craft comes upon the shark, they must put aside their difference to stand any chance of surviving. {googleads}

There have been dozens of films that have tried to recapture the magic of this film; hundreds of man vs beast flicks, and every one of them have paled in comparison. If I knew why, I could go out and make another and clean up. I think the Benchley/Carl Gottlieb’s script (With notable contributions by Howard Sackler and even Robert Shaw), especially in characterization, is what appeals the most to me. But everything from Spielberg’s direction, Verna Fields’ editing, John Williams’ score, and the spectacular actors’ cast in their respective roles is the very definition of lightning in a bottle.

Those that made this film have gone on record to say in many documentaries and books that the making of Jaws was tantamount to purgatory: unending, relentless, unforgiving. The shark hardly worked, and Spielberg and company were forced to improvise wildly to finish the film. But what a reward they got for sticking it out. Jaws

Those improvised moments, such as the yellow barrels and the broken dock, did far more for the tension of this picture than a thousand rubber sharks could. That, coupled with the performances of the three leads, had audiences leaping out of their chairs come the final scenes. Jaws went on to gross just over 470 million dollars (over 2.2 billion today).

Modern eyes, blessed with the gift of CGI, are going to snort at the practical rubber shark, but there is so much they can learn from this film in respect to storytelling. They REALLY knew how to engage an audience back then; and the fact that effects-heavy films continue to be spewed out of the Hollywood factory and hardly anyone remembers who these spectacles are happening to speaks volumes.

Jaws is, was, and always shall be this reviewer’s favorite movie. It is a classic in every sense of the word; a masterpiece that transcends any generation to be upheld as nothing short of storytelling perfection incarnate. Watching it in 4K is like being transported to 1975. Amazing.

5/5 stars

Jaws

4K

4K Details:

4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD

Home Video Distributor: Universal
Available on Blu-ray
- June 2, 2020
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby AtmosEnglish: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; English: DTS 2.0 MonoSpanish: DTS 5.1French: DTS-HD HR 7.1
Discs: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

VIDEO:

Absolutely as good as it gets! The original camera negatives were rescanned and cleaned up for the blu-ray release a few years back. Now we are seeing at full native resolution what a pristine job they actually did. The blu-ray was remarkable; it truly was. The 4K disc is perfection. From the opening beach scene you see a significant uptick in dimension and detail. Everything, from skin tones, hair, clothing, to flickering flames, to the inky darkness, and to the rotting fences in the foreground is richly rendered. The DOLBY Vision HDR heightens the pictures depth without overpowering it. There are some truly unforgiving environments throughout this film which the 4K handles effortlessly. Whether daylight scenes leaning dangerously toward over exposure, or the darkness of the water when Hooper goes investigating Ben Gardner’s boat, every detail, skin pore, sand grain, and drop of water is captured as if you are standing right there. There is no obvious DNR or artifacts. Color grading has also subtly and masterfully been perfected. There are rare and almost unnoticeable spots from the film stock and grain is intact. One of the finest back-catalogue 4K re-masters on the market bar none: must have.

Audio

Dolby Atmos 7.1 mix delivers a powerful sound accompanying a powerful picture. Again, not trying to reinvent the wheel and take this film out of its era, the mix is not as robust as some modern fair, but the addition overhead channels subtly compliment and elevate William’s score and environmental accompaniments. Dialogue is crisp and clean. LFE is sparse but used effectively. The Sub Woofer channel will rock the room at times. I think maybe some more work on crowd scenes might be only way to improve this mix. There is also DTS 2.0 stereo mix (didn’t review it)

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Well, there is nothing new here. No contemporary additions for the 45th Anniversary. Unlike most of these 4K discs, there are actually copious amounts of documentaries and features from the 2012 release on here. Also the included blu-ray which includes everything previously released. For Americans, there is a nice edition with a thick booklet accompanying it. For us Aussies, we got a standard case.

  • The Making of Jaws
  • The Shark is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of Jaws
  • Jaws: The Restoration
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
  • From the Set
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Jaws Archives

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

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Jaws

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
124 mins
Director
: Steven Spielberg
Writer:
Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb
Cast:
Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
Genre
: Thriller
Tagline:
You'll never go in the water again!
Memorable Movie Quote: "You're gonna need a bigger boat"
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 20, 1975
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 2, 2020.
Synopsis: When a young woman is killed by a shark while skinny-dipping near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, but mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) overrules him, fearing that the loss of tourist revenue will cripple the town. Ichthyologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled ship captain Quint (Robert Shaw) offer to help Brody capture the killer beast, and the trio engage in an epic battle of man vs. nature.

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Jaws

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