Jaws: 25th Anniversary Edition (DTS)

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

The summer season is almost upon us, the season when the temperature rises and many folks decide to trek off on their vacations. This is a wonderful time of the year for Amity Island, since summer is the season when the tourists arrive to visit the beaches and spend their vacation cash. While most of the summer seasons on Amity Island are calm and uneventful, this year is going to be different, and no one on the island will ever forget it. Right before the initial wave of tourists ransacks the island, the citizens of the island become aware of a Great White shark that has been trolling near the beaches. Of course this poses a lethal threat to those who would enter the waters, and as such oceanologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) believes the beaches should be closed to avoid potential personal injury or even loss of lives. But the mayor of the island feels closing the beaches is not needed and would result in loss of too much income, so the beaches remain open, although Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) thinks the idea is a bad one. As time passes, the shark feeds on several swimmers but the beaches remain open nonetheless. In an effort to end the feeding frenzy, Hooper and a local fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) to attempt to take the shark down. But once they’re on the trail of the monster shark, they soon realize that the shark wants them just as bad as they want it.

Jaws has finally arrived on our beloved format and while the wait was a long one, it is well worth all the waiting. I will speak more about audio and video later on, but I do want to say now that is the finest visual presentation of Jaws to be released. The image even reveals new details that I’ve never noticed before and I’ve seen the movie many, many times. So even if you’ve seen this movie before, prepare to rediscover it and even see some new things opened up by this tremendous transfer. And of course, Universal has loaded this disc to the gills with bonus materials, which is always good. As for the movie itself, I can’t imagine that you haven’t seen it, but just in case I’ll discuss it a little. While many shark attack movies have been, this is the original and finest of them all, as well as being one of Steven Spielberg’s best movies, in my opinion. This is a well planned and executed film filled with suspense and tension, this is one of few movies that will actually have you on the edge of your seat, to be sure. In short, this is a film that is a must for any film buff’s collection, and Universal has issued a disc that is one of the greatest single disc releases to date.

This film was directed by Steven Spielberg, who stands as one of the most financially successful directors of all time. While these days he usually tries to make socially redeeming films, at one time he has behind some fantastic popcorn movies, with Jaws being one of them. Although this is a horror movie of sorts about a shark that eats people, Spielberg makes it a tension loaded visual feast, one of my favorites to be honest. While Spielberg’s films such as Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan are excellent movies, I hope he can soon revisit the popcorn variety films, because we all know he can make some great ones. While I doubt this is need, other Spielberg films include Raiders of the Lost Ark, Duel, E.T., Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Hook, The Color Purple, and of course, Jurassic Park. I feel this movie has three true leads, excluding the big fish of course. Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland’s Opus, American Graffiti), Roy Scheider (Romeo Is Bleeding, RKO 281), and Robert Shaw (The Deep, The Sting) all have substantial screen time and create interesting characters. The supporting cast also includes Lorraine Gary (Car Wash, 1941), Carl Gottlieb (Clueless, The Jerk), Murray Hamilton (The Graduate), and Ted Grossman Raw Deal, H.O.T.S.).

Video: How does it look?

A movie as old as Jaws has obviously gone through many incarnations in the home video market. It came out before Beta and VHS, before Laserdisc and Video CD and of couse DVD. Through all the versions of this film, none have even compared to the brand new DVD version(s). The 2.35:1 image looks postively splendid for a film of this age. While some faults are bound to be found, and they are, on the transfer the colors and images almost leap off the screen. Being more of a dark movie, and taking place in the murky waters of the Atlantic the image is challenged, but passes every test. Edge enhancement is kept to a minimum and the fleshtones look as normal as could be expected. I’m running out of adjectives here, let’s just say that you won’t be disappointed.

Audio: How does it sound?

This new version of Jaws has been remastered from the original Award winning soundtrack by John Williams. While the original version would be a true mono soundtrack, a new DTS master and a new Dolby Digital master were made. It’s a well-known fact that the DTS version of most any movie will sound better. The DTS is a lot less compressed and therefore has more of a wider field of range (of speakers) to work with. Jaws is certainly no exception. The music is top notch and the DTS lets us have the treatment that is second only to being in the water (of couse, we would sacrifice the sound). One scene in particular that the DTS takes advantage is when they attach the “kegs” to Jaws. The water and the ambiane of the waves crashing lets us know that we are getting the highest quality sound. An explosion is a lot better sounding that the Dolby Digital version as well. Overall, the sound is top notch and with the same supplements that are available on the Dolby Digital version, I see no reason not to have this one instead (if you’re DTS equipped, that is).

Supplements: What are the extras?

While the special edition 6 disc Laserdisc set contained even more material than this, this DVD isn’t exactly part of some chum line! We are treated first of all to a brand new 16:9 transfer that looks positively spectacular and an equally pleasing remastered soundtrack. In addition, we get the original trailer, cast and crew bios (all standard) and some production notes. Some more bonus material includes a trivia game (that references “Who wants to be a Millionaire” in a weird manner), outtakes though there are only two and some deleted scenes. There is also a behind the scenes documentary that has new (new being 7 years old) interviews with the cast members and their thoughts on the long lasting impact of Jaws and even some material with Stephen Spielberg himself. Lastly, there are some production photographs that round out the set nicely. Also included are some DVD-ROM links. Overall, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have this disc.

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