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Jaws (SE)
DVD disk
06.16.2005 By: Adam J. Hakari
Jaws (SE) order
Director:
Steven Spielberg

Actors:
Roy Scheider
Richard Dreyfuss
Robert Shaw

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
On a fine summer day, one big-ass great white shark decides to make the New England tourist town of Amity Island its new home, stalking and ripping apart the poor bastards who thought they’d just spend the day swimming. Well, Chief of Police Brody (Roy Scheider) isn’t having any of that, so as he fights against the asshole mayor and those who want to keep the beaches open for the tourists, he scrambles to find a way to either prevent the shark attacks or kill the Great White Fucker once and for all. Also enlisted in Brody’s hunt are marine biologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Quint (Robert Shaw), an old sea salt carrying one helluva grudge against sharks.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
In the 30 years since the film’s original release, a lot of stuff has happened to try and detract from the impact JAWS made upon audiences. Spoofs by way of “SNL” or BACK TO THE FUTURE: PART II, the constant regurgitation of the movie’s most memorable lines, and the three shitty sequels that followed all tried in their own ways to make JAWS a little less scary and make it something to laugh at in the annals of pop culture history. But JAWS is a strong lad that refuses to lie down; three decades after first scaring the shit out of people, the movie’s still doing it, showing kids who think BOOGEYMAN is the most frightening movie ever made how to rock it old school.

The key to what makes JAWS more than just a shark movie is that director Steven Spielberg (you might’ve heard of him…the guy did a couple flicks in his time…) gives a damn about the people chasing after ol’ “Bruce.” Rather than have a trio of WB-style heroes making poses while they piddle around in a tugboat, Spielberg gives the three leads enough time to breath, develop, and make their marks on the story before sending them out into the water. Scheider is good and solid as cop Brody, who’s a little afraid of the water himself but has to venture out into le grande bleu when not only the tourists’ lives are threatened but that of his family as well. Dreyfuss is your typical manic Dreyfuss, in one second gleefully snapping pictures of the shark and in the next screaming bloody murder as he’s attacked in an “anti-shark cage.” And then we have the one and only Robert Shaw, who, two years before JAWS, made a distinct impression as the villain in THE STING and proceeds to craft Quint into one of the cinema’s most memorable characters. The guy’s got it all: a great entrance scene, a hardass attitude, and, what quite a few remember JAWS most of all for, that chilling monologue about the sinking of the Indianapolis, a ship whose crew fought for survival in the Pacific Ocean as sharks circled around them.

Spielberg has the human element of JAWS down pat, and he brings equal care and attention to just flat-out making the viewer poop their pants. No matter how jaded you might’ve become over years of watching horror flicks, JAWS still retains the power to really chill you on some level, tapping into one’s fear of the unknown by shaping it as a truly perfect villain: a cold-blooded shark that will fucking eat you no matter what. Spielberg’s decision to show as little of the shark as possible was somewhat influenced from a technical angel (the shark the crew built constantly malfunctioned), but it still lends to the movie’s overall impact and makes the great white’s scant few actual appearances all the more eerie. Any way you shake it, Spielberg and crew captured the essence of what made the shark such an ominous presence that not one of the sequels ever grasped in their entirety.

Ya hear that, DEEP BLUE SEA? You were good for some cheesy fun, but for the real meat and potatoes of shark movies, the smooth, exciting, well-acted, and intelligent JAWS is where the action’s at.
THE EXTRAS
DISC 1:

“Deleted Scenes/Outtakes” -- A little over 13 minutes’ worth of, you guessed it, deleted scenes and outtakes. Nothing of real importance or significance, but there is a weird deleted bit where Quint harasses a kid playing the clarinet that’s worth a laugh.

“From the Set” -- An almost 9-minute “making-of” documentary shot on the JAWS set in 1974. Not terribly much info traded around, just a basic rundown of the cast/crew and seeing how a scene or two was shot.

DISC 2:

“The Making of Jaws -- A two-hour documentary about the making of the film, from picking up the Peter Benchley novel to how it became the most popular movie of all time at its time. Fairly basic but involving, with a lot of stories movie buffs already know (the shark being named “Bruce,” the idea of the Indianapolis speech) and some they might not (especially some of Spielberg’s cool ideas for scenes that ended having to be ditched).

“Jaws Archives” -- Four image galleries to search through: "Production Photos" (‘nuff said), "Storyboards" (once again, ‘nuff said), "Marketing Jaws (a look at some of the movie’s promotional material), and Jaws Phenomenon (overseas promotional material and images of the movie effecting pop culture at the time).

And along with the set comes a 58-page booklet of photos, quotes, and snippets from the “Making of Jaws” documentary.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
For the flick’s 30th anniversary, I would’ve liked to see JAWS receive a better special edition, maybe with a cast/crew commentary and deeper look at the movie’s cultural impact rather than an okay making-of documentary and some galleries. But even though the DVD itself is okay, JAWS itself more than compensates by continuing to be the chilling creature feature it’s been for thirty years.
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