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Jaws
08.21.2012 By: Chris Bumbray
Jaws order download
Director:
Steven Spielberg

Actors:
Roy Scheider
Robert Shaw
Richard Dreyfuss

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A Great White Shark terrorizes the waters of a resort town called Amity. In order to stop the shark’s murderous rampage, local police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider)teams up with a young marine biologist, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and a salty old shark hunter named Quint (Robert Shaw)- in a final desperate hunt on the open sea.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
JAWS is a perfect film. More than even STAR WARS, which followed two-years later, JAWS is the father of high-concept, modern event movies. Based on the best-selling book by Peter Benchley, the premise of JAWS is gloriously simple- a ravenous shark terrorizes a resort town. Nowadays, the shark would probably be made into a super-mutant or something stupid like that but here it’s just a hungry Great White. The shark isn’t evil- just famished.

Thanks partially to the state of special FX in the seventies (and a malfunctioning mechanical shark named Bruce), for the most part Steven Spielberg, who made his career with this film, is Hitchcockian in that the shark is off-screen for most of the movie. Rather, John Williams’ amazing score stands in for the shark, with the great POV underwater shots showing us as it hunts and devours its prey. Despite only being PG, JAWS is a harsher movie than most of us remember, with the kills being gruesome and disturbing, particularly Chrissie’s desperate screams in the iconic opening scene, and the bloody death of young Alex Kinter.

But- JAWS is more than just “scary” and this is what distinguishes the film from the numerous sequels and imitators that followed. JAWS is, at its heart- the story of three men, each of whom represent a facet of “masculinity”. There’s the young, rebellious intellectual- Hooper, the older alpha male, Quint, and in between, the everyman- Brody. Roy Scheider, as Brody is the unsung hero of this film. An ex-New York cop, who relocated his family to Amity in order to protect them from the dangers of the big city- he’s totally unprepared for the force of nature that attacks the town, as what can he do about a monster that never leaves the water? Even worse- the bureaucracy of City Hall is eager to sweep the attacks under the rug as to not jeopardize tourist season.

Scheider perfectly conveys the anguish his character feels after the Kinter boy is killed due to him allowing the blustery mayor to steamroll his efforts to close the beach. Like many of Spielberg’s protagonists, he’s a family man who just wants to do what’s right for his brood, but when the shit hits the fan, he has to man up and overcome his own fear (which includes a deep fear of the water). In the end, it’s neither the know-it-all intellectual, nor the alpha he-man Quint that ends the shark’s reign of terror- but the everyman, Brody.

However, while this is arguably Scheider’s show- Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss are both iconic in their respective roles. Dreyfuss has kinda been playing Hooper ever since JAWS, and I assume Spielberg and his writers worked a lot of Dreyfuss’ own personality into the part. He’s amazing at the beginning of a great run of films that he did in the late seventies. Robert Shaw, of THE STING and FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE is even better as Quint- the Ahab like captain of the Orca. It seems unfathomable that not only did Robert Shaw not win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for JAWS, but his turn as Quint didn’t even get nominated. Like Dreyfuss, a lot of Shaw’s personality ended up being worked into Quint, and his famous “USS Indianopolis” speech was actually partially written by Shaw himself, who also dabbled as a playwright/novelist on the side.

THE EXTRAS
Being one of their biggest catalogue titles, Universal has loaded the Blu-ray with extras. First up is the uncut Making of JAWS a great documentary originally made in 1998 for the laserdisc. On DVD this was cut to an hour, but we get the whole thing here, and it’s fascinating. Additionally, we get the fan-made documentary, The Shark is Still Working which was meticulously researched and edited by some hardcore JAWS fans, and it’s great that Universal put it on the Blu-ray, as it’s terrific. My only beef is that it’s non-anamorphic, as this should have been in HD. There’s also some deleted scenes most of which are on the old TV prints of the film that floated around in the eighties, and a few short outtakes showing Scheider struggling with a prop gun, and Shaw getting a little TOO into his death scene. There a quick vintage featurette , the awesome theatrical trailer (God created the devil, and gave him JAWS!!!), a photo gallery and a featurette on the meticulous restoration the film underwent in preparation for the HD release. A DVD copy is also included.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
When I say that JAWS is a masterpiece, I’m probably preaching to the choir, as this is a movie pretty-much everyone has seen over and over. But- truly, it’s one of those films that you can watch numerous times, and still get caught up in. I make it a point to re-watch it few years or so, and I’m certain their Blu-ray will spend a lot of time in my player. I adore this film.
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