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

Piranha 3D

Viewed – 14 January 2011  Blu-ray

This is one of those movies that has a certain kind of audience in mind.  Guys and fanatics of low-budget trashy horror  who grew up on the likes of The Evil Dead and Re-Animator.  Those movies understood the basics of any good horror.  You need tits, and you need gore – lots of it.  Therefore I knew exactly what to expect when sitting down to watch this remake of the Joe Dante (sort of) classic.

Elizabeth Shue is a Sheriff living in a local lake-side community, who stumbles upon an outbreak of Piranhas, unearthed following an earth quake under the sea.  It also happens to be spring break, the time where hormonal, sex-crazed teenagers converge on the beach for plenty of sun, sea and wet t-shirt competitions.  So naturally for the Piranhas this is an all you can eat buffet, and it’s up to the Sheriff, her son and Kelly Brooke in a bikini to save the day – kind of.

Director Alexandre Aja has made a bit of a name for himself following the break-out slasher classic High Tension (aka Switchblade Romance) and then following it up with the actually rather brilliant The Hills Have Eyes remake.  Now delving into his love of 80s horror if Tension could be seen as his tribute to 70s horror, this delivers on its principal promise.  There’s plenty of nudity, and most importantly blood & gore – with some money shots really knocking me off my seat.  All I’ll say is a boat propeller and a girl’s hair are not a good combination!  Sadly the same can’t be said for the acting or the casting, with cranky dialogue and characters so wafer thin they’re almost cartoon-like.  And what Christopher Lloyd is doing here is anyone’s guess.

But for fans, this is a joy.  Aja cements his reputation as the gore king and at a zippy 85 minutes, its fast, fun and entertaining.  Nods to Jaws (such as Richard Dreyfuss’ cameo) only remind the viewer of how gripping and intelligent this could have been, but beyond that this does tick all the boxes for what a Piranha movie needs, and I really enjoyed it.

3D doesn’t interest me at all, so I watched the 2D version.

Verdict:  3.5 /5