Blu-ray Review: JAWS – Universal 100th Anniversary Edition (Universal)

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Jaws Blu-ray Combo Pack

It may be hard to believe, but the ultimate summer popcorn flick, JAWS, has never been out on Blu-ray—until now. In honor of Universal’s 100th anniversary, the studio has finally rolled out this classic in high-def. And it’s a spiffy revisit, fully restored for the format and chock full of bonus goodies. This combo pack (including Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy versions) is the definitive home edition of JAWS.

Released in 1975, JAWS was significant for a number of reasons. It marked the emergence of Steven Spielberg as a major filmmaking force. It set the template for big summer event movies that exists today in the form of films such as The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. It made stars out of Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw. It redefined the impact and dramatic power of soundtrack music through John Williams’ iconic score. It permeated popular culture to such an extent that it inspired hit records and the “landshark” skits on “Saturday Night Live.”

But beyond all that, JAWS was—and is—just a kickass horror film for the masses. Funny, scary and thrilling, JAWS (based on Peter Benchley’s novel) is the story of what happens when a great white shark goes on a feeding spree at a New York beach resort town. The town Sherriff (Scheider) is joined by a marine biologist (Dreyfuss) and a crusty, cranky shark hunter (Shaw) to destroy the man-eating monster.

That simple plot could have been turned into a B-movie in the wrong hands, but young Spielberg, in full command of his skills, turned it into a tour de force of assured, creative filmmaking. And there’s never been a better way to watch this masterpiece at home than this version, which has been restored to the level of today’s pristine Blu-ray transfers. The picture is sharp, bright and vividly colorful, and the 7:1 surround mix is a revelation in the way it delivers the layers of sound and Williams’ genre-defining music.

Bonus features are ample on this set, and unlike the unnecessary material on many commemorative editions, they’re interesting in their own right. In addition to previously released documentaries and features, a new feature “The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of JAWS” includes recent interviews that give a retrospective view of the movie. “JAWS: The Restoration” is a documentary just about how the film was restored, and it’s a fascinating look at the amount of work that goes into a project like this. The Blu-ray also has deleted scenes and outtakes, as well as archives of storyboards and photos. That will keep you busy for hours, but if you’re a fan of JAWS, this is a fresh journey well worth taking.

Buy Jaws [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet] (Universal’s 100th Anniversary) on Amazon
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