This Blu-ray upgrade of Spielberg's classic is sure to make you smile (you son of a bitch)
Every bit as efficient and effective as its killer shark, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 smash is not just a fantastic horror film, it’s also as close as you’ll ever come to finding the perfect Hollywood blockbuster. Every single element is perfectly balanced, be it suspense, horror, levity, character development or good old fashioned storytelling. It’s nothing less than a milestone in the history of cinema and a bloody great film to boot.
Picture: Universal’s restoration team has been criticised time and again for a heavy-handed use of digital tools that frequently results in a loss of fine detail and film grain. Well, you can forget all about that when it comes to the Jaws Blu-ray. Signed-off by Spielberg himself, the AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode is simply beautiful. Colour timing is impeccably balanced, contrast has been improved significantly and the increase in clarity compared to previous releases is simply mind-boggling.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: Whenever you think about Jaws the first thing that comes to mind is John Williams’ iconic score. The film’s entire soundscape is such a huge part of the film’s success that I’ll admit to being a little wary when I found out that it had been remixed in 7.1 for this Blu-ray release. I shouldn’t have been.
The disc’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 track is a thing of really beauty. There’s nothing overtly flashy on show, instead it’s a subtle piece of re-engineering that simply expands the soundfield while lending even greater clarity to all of the elements. To my ears, it’s easily the best the film has ever sounded. And if you don’t agree, a DTS 2.0 version of the original mono soundtrack is also included.
Audio rating: 4.5/5
Extras: The majority of extras will be familiar to fans as they’ve been recycled from previous LaserDiscs and DVDs. This includes the 123-min The Making of Jaws documentary, 14-mins of deleted scenes/outtakes, 9-mins of on-set footage, four galleries (Storyboards, Production Photos, Marketing Jaws and Jaws Phenomenon) and the theatrical trailer.
New to the Blu-ray is an 8-min featurette about the film’s restoration and (best of all) a second documentary entitled The Shark is Still Working. Running 101-mins, the latter started life as a fan project, before netting fresh interviews with almost all of the key players in the film’s production as well as other well-known Hollywood names to discuss the impact Jaws had at the time of its release and it’s legacy.
All of which would be impossible to fault – if it wasn’t for the fact that the actual presentation was so substandard. Not only is everything on the disc bar the restoration featurette presented in standard-definition, but the new documentary, hasn’t even been anamorphically encoded! And don’t even get me started on how blurry the galleries look (all of the imagery really needed to be re-scanned). It ultimately smacks of laziness on the part of Universal and is the only blemish on an otherwise fantastic Blu-ray release.
Extras rating: 4/5
We say: A stunning presentation of Spielberg’s classic – If only as much effort had been put into how the extras look
Universal Pictures, All-region BD, £25 Approx, On sale now
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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