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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
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  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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Jaws - 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 120 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

No matter the argument, Steven Spielberg has always had an ability for conjuring up the suspense and fear in all of us with ease and then exploiting it in a way that it lives with us for a long while after that. Just like the unrelenting Truck in Duel and the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, there's always a point where you have to look over your shoulder and wonder what lurks in the shadows.

We begin this journey into a scarred childhood on the beaches of Amity Island where a bunch of teenagers are doing what they did back in the old days, playing songs around a campfire when two pairs of eyes meet across the flames, signalling the other to come for a skinny dip only to have the festivities ended by some creature of the deep cruising the shores for a titillating snack.

When more people start disappearing, all manner of possibilities are put forward until someone mentions the prospect of a shark attack. As Amity Island thrives on its tourism for income, closing the beaches is not an option, thus providing our creature from the deep with a smorgasboard of sunburnt humans. Three men, the town chief of police Brody (Roy Scheider), ichthyologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzly shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) go hunting for this porker and have the tables turned on them by its cunning and sheer destructive power.

This is a film of two very distinct halves. The first is of the broader general menace invoked by the unseen killer as it prowls the waters establishing its territorial feeding ground. The drama unfolds almost immediately and plays on suspense and the sheer horror of a town blissfully ignorant to the menace that exists in the waters they flock to.

In the second half, the hunting party enters firmly into the sharks domain and it becomes a game of cat and mouse as they go head to head. The aspect of isolation is played upon heavily with the remoteness of the crew from land. Slowly but surely the scales are tipped in the shark's favour, and a great sense of desperation sets in with both the crew and the viewer.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat"

For such a simple film, it is highly effective in its ability to draw you in and keep you fixed to your seat (except when it has you jumping out of it again!) The pacing and editing keep you strung out for the whole two-hour running time and leave you with a wholly satisfying viewing experience. But there is more to this 25th Anniversary DVD than just the movie itself...

  Video
Contract

For a film of 25 years vintage, this DVD scrubs up remarkably well, very well indeed, although it isn’t without faults. There is no doubting the effort that went into creating a definitive vision for DVD.

The picture has a rock solid stability in regards to consistency of picture detail. It really does carry the clarity of a more recent film. There are a few occasions in which the clothing causes some moiring. Although infrequent and for short durations, when it occurs it is fairly prominent in the picture. Some fine lines suffer from aliasing, and again these are infrequent and minimal enough to overlook. Some scenes that you would expect to be a mess of grain and contouring are wonderfully rendered. For the most part, shadow detail is good with a little bit of grain visibly creeping in.

Still, A great transfer for a release that is well deserving of the treatment.

  Audio
Contract

Even though there has been some great reworking done to the audio, there are a few moments where the source material exhibits its limitations. Still, even these limitations don’t hinder the enjoyment of the track. The sound alternates from densely layered montages of voices in group scenes to moments of deathly silence. Dialogue is generally understandable except for some scenes like the night search for the shark where Brody's voice seem softer and harsher, in opposite contrast of what we're hearing from the rest of the movie.

Some stand out moments are when Robert Shaw scratches his finger nails down the blackboard to get everyone’s attention. Another is the initial violent attack on the ORCA that pounds out the bass with great solidity. There is some wonderfully subtle use of LFE to support the score. And what a score it is. John Williams in his prime toward the late '70s has produced some grand compositions such as those for Star Wars, Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark, with Jaws starting the fan base rolling. The simplicity in the score is its key and whenever those notes are heard, the suspense is built without the need for any visuals at all.

Surround channel usage is extremely subtle, to the point of you forgetting that they are even used, until one or two moments late in the film when they are suddenly and effectively used. The only real criticism here is that the mix is fairly heavily localised to the centre channel. I think this film could have used a bit of expansion in the soundstage. Still, as it is, the results are very effective, and do the film justice.

  Extras
Contract

A whole school of extras grace this DVD, starting with about 10 minutes worth of Deleted Scenes that flesh out some of the story, concentrating on the Brody family. Of note, there is a scene with Shaw tormenting a child in a music store and then mayhem as the locals all fight over capturing the shark for the bounty. Following up with additional footage are some Outtakes containing around a minute of footage showing Brody's growing frustration as a prop gun won’t fire and another of Shaw screaming in pain.

In the publicity area, we have a varied selection of Theatrical Trailers, including one for a limited season re-run. Strange in that you can't play the one you want seperately, as they all run on from each other in sequence. Production Photos and Story Boards offers quite an extensive gallery of production images as well as a look at the original scripted storyboard drafts of the film.

The main feature on the disc is the Documentary: The Making Of Jaws, a good 50 minute feature containing interviews with Speilberg, Benchley and cast and crew about the story and the creation of the film. Some good info in this and worthwhile viewing. A welcome inclusion in the extras. 6 pages of Production Notes are next on the menu with simplified and summarised info about the film. A Get Out Of The Water Trivia Game requires you to answer questions correctly and reveal the picture piece by piece to win with direct links to the relevant sections of the film for hints. No real replay value, but hey, it's something. Shark World provides a further 6 screens of basic shark info, a Screen Saver for your PC is supplied and finally your basic run of the mill Talent Profiles are included.

I think everyone was expecting a commentary from Spielberg but that's a rare item that one.

  Overall  
Contract

This is cinematic history here folks, a classic collection of celluloid that affects you long after you've left the comfort of your favorite seat. At 2 hours, the movie takes its time by today's standards but then again, we wouldn't call today's movies a standard to go by when quality like this hasn't been surpassed in the 25 years since.

A must have for any fan.


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      And I quote...
    "A must have for any fan."
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB930
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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