Viewed – 15 September 2012 Blu-ray
What more can be said about this classic blockbuster? Pretty much the original summer event picture, this has gone down in cinematic history, and even watching it now with much more jaded eyes, the experience is still something bone-shaking, powerful and epic. Based on the pulp novel by Peter Benchley, this follows the story of Police Chief ‘Brody’ (the brilliant Roy Scheider), who after a girl is killed during a night time skinny-dip by what seems to be a shark, is understandibly concerned about the tourist season looming on the horizon. Then after a young boy is killed in broad day light, it’s time to call in the big guns, and although a selfish, money hungry mayor refuses to close the beach, the help of marine specialist and a world-weary shark-hunter, gives Brody the chance to save the day.
One of the earliest movies from famed director Steven Spielberg, this has lost none of its brilliance. With three stand out performances from Scheider, Robert Shaw as a classic salty sea dog, and Richard Dreyfuss as the token shark expert – this has not only excellent casting, but also perfectly staged sequences that show, even today in the age of CGI and limitless imagination, that Jaws was something special. Spielberg’s direction is faultless, perfectly executing every stand out moment (we’re gonna need a bigger boat!) and has brilliant camera work throughout, broken up with perfectly chosen moments of humour. The characterisation is especially good, making this more than just a creature feature, and add to this John Williams’ amazing score (der duh, der duh, der duh…) there really is nothing to complain about here. In my opinion one of the finest movies ever made.
This newly released Blu-ray is derived from a brand new 4k digital master, and for the most part it is very pleasing. Some fuzziness does rear its head, especially during in door scenes or night sequences, but close-up detail and daytime scenes are actually very impressive. It’s safe to say the movie has never looked as good as this. The biggest wow-factor for me however is the lossless 7.1 soundtrack, with John Williams’ score packing a punch and dialogue and effects crystal clear throughout. Some controversy has been labelled at the classic line ‘smile you son of a bitch’ as Brody fires the rifle at the end to kill Jaws, with the gunshot noise covering the ‘bitch’ part, but I thought it worked well, and have no issue with it. Extras consist of exhaustive documentaries covering the making of the movie, including a new 8 minute look at the restoration. Again no Spielberg commentary which always grates (he refuses to do commentaries on his work …. tutt tutt) but overall this is a worthy package for what for me at least, is one of the all time greats.
(the movie): 5 /5
(the Blu-ray): 4 /5