Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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DVD Snippets: 'Jaws'

Jaws has been on every home video format there is, with the exception of Blu-ray until now. And was it worth the wait.

Arguably the greatest man vs. nature film, Jaws is an enduring masterpiece of horror, a gripping thrill ride of scares and exhilaration that marries popcorn entertainment with intelligent writing, effective casting, and the determined vision of a young director about to become a filmmaking force.

Jaws is the ultimate fish story, as a 25-foot great white shark terrorizes a small island resort in the East Coast one summer by dining on swimmers. A colorful fisherman, a young marine biologist, and a police chief with a fear of the water who are resolute to kill the beast.

The video quality of the Jaws Blu-ray edition (MSRP: $29.98), released as part of Universal Studio's centennial celebration, is reason enough to upgrade to high-definition, if you haven't already.

For comparison's sake, I used the 25th anniversary DVD release of the film, itself remastered, and found the differences in quality between it and Blu-ray to be remarkable in terms of vibrant colors, lack of artifacts (dust, scratches, and other age imperfections), and overall clarity. Jaws may be 37 years old, but it has never looked this good. As director Steven Spielberg noted in a 10-minute feature on the digital remastering of Jaws, his film looks better now on Blu-ray than when it was released to theaters in June, 1975.

The sound has been enhanced from two-channel stereo as originally presented to audiences to 7.1, meaning the dialogue, music, and sound effects have been expanded to play through up to seven speakers plus a subwoofer. It's subtle, but it makes a big difference -- especially to John Williams' Oscar-winning iconic score.

If that's not enough to convince you to upgrade, consider the extensive Blu-ray extras to sink your teeth into: roughly six hours of features, including two documentaries that delve into the notoriously lengthy and problem-plagued film production, as well as hundreds of photos, storyboards, and deleted scenes. Some of this has been available on DVD before, but never in one package. Even better, it all fits on a single Blu-ray disc.

Jaws remains one of Hollywood's great films, and now it's one of the best Blu-ray offerings, with a lovingly restored audio and video presentation, and a treasure trove of facts, trivia, and behind-the-scenes accounts for fans of the film and those who simply love film.

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