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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jaws Blu-ray: Worth the Wait

Written by Kirk Baird

Arguably the greatest man vs. nature film, Jaws is an enduring masterpiece, 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.

As most everyone knows, the film is about a 25-foot great white shark that terrorizes a small island resort on the East Coast one summer by dining on several swimmers, a colorful fisherman, a young marine biologist, and a police chief with a fear of the water determined to kill the beast.

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

The video quality of Jaws on Blu-ray, released as part of Universal Studio’s centennial celebration, might be reason alone to upgrade to high-definition, if you haven’t already.

I compared the Blu-ray to the 25th anniversary DVD release of the film, itself remastered, and found the difference in colors, lack of artifacts on the film, and the overall clarity of the image to be remarkable. 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 upgraded as well from simple two-channel stereo as originally shown to 7.1, meaning the dialogue, music, and sound effects have been expanded to play through up to seven speakers plus a subwoofer.

If that’s not enough to convince you to upgrade, consider the Blu-ray’s extensive extras to sink your teeth into: roughly six hours plus of features, including two separate documentaries that delve deep into the notoriously lengthy and problem-plagued film production, as well as hundreds of on-set photos, original storyboards, and deleted scenes and outtakes. 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 is one of Hollywood’s great films, and now it’s one of the best Blu-ray offerings, with a digitally remastered and near-flawless presentation, and a treasure trove of facts, trivia, and behind-the-scenes accounts for fans of the film and those who love film period.

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