JAWS – 45th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Jaws

 For modern-day audiences, JAWS might not necessarily live up to the hype that you’ll end up being “afraid to go into the ocean.” Yet what makes JAWS so scary is the same thing that makes all other horror films so scary: The unknown. Not seeing what’s in the dark and not seeing what’s in the ocean—it’s a similar concept, right? That’s what leaves you glued to the screen the entire time. 

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Yet what makes JAWS a classic is through its crew: Chief Brody, Hooper, and Quint. Ordinary everyday people going up against a larger-than-life monster. In a way, this film parallels Herman Melville’s classic novel “Moby Dick” with Quint as the Captain Ahab. Much like the novel, Steven Spielberg masterfully builds the legend of the shark before fully unleashing him in the final climactic battle.

That’s the most effective thing about the film. If you think about it, the technical difficulties involving the animatronic shark were a blessing in disguise. Spielberg adapted his film and creatively came up with a solution to his expensive shark troubles. That fear of a monster unseen has always been more effective than showing the monster from the get-go. After all, nothing is more frightening than your imagination. 

But unlike other monsters at the time, JAWS is based in reality. There are no radioactive lizards or giant apes terrorizing humans here. No, this is simply a great white shark having his fill of unsuspecting humans. This is nature forcing its way onto Amity Island. Sadly though, this film is shockingly relevant to what’s been happening in 2020. It’s kind of sad to see that stupidity hasn’t changed in 45 years.

Overall, JAWS is a technical achievement and an outright miracle film. After all, with all of the behind-the-scenes troubles involving the shark, no script, and no crew it’s a miracle that the film ended up as good as it is. That’s attributed to the genius that is Steven Spielberg. With JAWS, the Hollywood landscape would never be the same again.

Movie Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Jaws - Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider

Video

JAWS hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. From the opening scene on the beach to the foggy nighttime boat trip scene, you can see all of the improvements from the Ultra HD presentation. The brightness from the moon radiates off the screen while the black levels keep the scene nice and dark. The black levels give the picture with some deep blacks while also keeping all of the shadow details intact… And that’s just the opening scene. The brightness and black levels have a wide grayscale to accurately display the light and darkness on the screen.

The colors stay faithful to the source material by not going too overboard with the colorization of the picture. The color saturation only increases when needed such as the blood-red in the ocean waters leading to fuller color experience. The details also get an increase in clarity but the film still suffers from the soft edges of the source material. The film grain is also noticeable as well—preserving the cinematic quality of the classic. Overall, this is a great-looking 4K video transfer that stays faithful to the source material.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Jaws - Murray Hamilton, Richard Dreyfuss, and Roy Scheider

Audio

JAWS hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect JAWS‘s Dolby Atmos track. Now, having a Dolby Atmos mix may sound amazing on paper but it’s a much less dynamic mix than you would expect. Much like the video transfer, the audio mix keeps it faithful to the source material without going overboard. Unfortunately, that means that the mix will be primarily front-loaded for most of the mix.

However, when the scene calls for it, the soundstage subtly comes alive with some scene accurate atmospheric effects. The overhead effects also do not distinctly come alive in this mix. Instead, the overheads primarily enhance the effects in the mix. That being said, the mix does come alive during the climactic battle against the shark. As you can imagine, the dialogue is clear. Though there are some scenes where the dialogue has a lo-fi vintage sound to it. Although it’s nice that the audio mix doesn’t rework the source material, it’s still sad to see that the Dolby Atmos mix doesn’t give us a richer and more robust experience.

Audio Rating: 4/5 atoms

Jaws - Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw

Special Features

JAWS‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has the following special features on the disc:

  • The Making of JAWS
  • The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of JAWS
    • Martha’s Vineyard, 1974
    • This Is a Great White… A BIG One!
    • The Theme
    • The Shark Is Not Working
    • Call Ishmael
    • I Love Sharks… I Love Them.
    • The USS Indianapolis
    • JAWSFEST
    • Life Imitates JAWS
    • The Shark Is Still Working
  • JAWS: The Restoration
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
  • From the Set
  • Theatrical Trailer

The 1080p Blu-ray contains the following archival featurettes:

  • Storyboards
  • Production Photos
  • Marketing JAWS
  • JAWS Phenomenon

If you own the previous Blu-ray release of JAWS then these special features will look very familiar. Unfortunately, there’re no new bonus features added for this release. However, if you haven’t seen it then you’re in for an overload of information about the history of the film. First off, the deleted scenes are more of an extended cut of scenes than actual deleted scenes. It features a lot of setup and expositional scenes that explain a lot of nitpicky little details such as how the mayor found out that Chief Brody is closing the beaches at the beginning of the film. The outtakes also are simple goofs than an actual gag reel.

The “Making of JAWS” is a very dated and dry behind-the-scenes featurette but it does detail a lot of the turmoil that occurred while making the film. It also features a lot of the smaller and more funnier stories from the production of the film. “The Shark is Still Working” is a fan-made feature-length documentary that expands upon the “Making of JAWS” featurette with newer interviews and a more streamlined way of storytelling.

JAWS: The Restoration” documents the JAWS‘s entire restoration process for the Universal 100th Anniversary Blu-ray release of the film. “From the Set” is a British 1974 archival interview profile piece on Steven Spielberg and on JAWS. It’s always interesting to see vintage interview footage so “From the Set” is a fun watch for sure.

Special Features Rating: 3/5 atoms

Jaws

Extras

JAWS‘s 45th-anniversary Ultra HD Blu-ray release comes with a lenticular slip box and a commemorative booklet. The booklet contains information and biographies, original storyboards, Quint’s USS Indianapolis monologue script page, the original schematic blueprints of Bruce the Shark, and photos of the various posters for the film.


Overall, JAWS is a cinematic classic and proves that some great things can come from a bad situation. It’s still astonishing the kind of creativity Spielberg had to create a coherent film from so many problems. The video looks amazing for a 45-year-old film but unfortunately, the audio mix doesn’t necessarily bring the best out of the Dolby Atmos format. The special features are sadly the same bonus features from several years ago.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1567 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.