Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jaws Blu-ray Reviewed

I’m a bit of an odd duck. When I really love an older movie, I prefer to not own it, as this provides me the opportunity to run into it accidentally whilst flipping through channels some random day. It’s the most excellent of surprises. Occasionally, there is that rare instance when film makers put forth a Herculean effort to create the perfect Blu-ray transfer which then gets my attention…but a dilemma still exists. I am so used to watching the “safe for TV” version of a film, it becomes burned into my brain and the theatrical version is long forgotten. Such is the case with Jaws, a film with numerous scenes extended in the TV version; one of which has become my favorite.

Quint visits a local music shop to pick up piano wire and seats himself behind a young boy playing a flute like instrument. The tune is “Ode to Joy” and Quint can’t help but sing along. The boy is not sharing Quint’s enthusiasm and, visibly annoyed, starts to botch the notes. This only eggs Quint on and he continues sing along in a louder more obnoxious tone…until the boy just stops cold. Quint peeks out from behind him with a “why did you stop?!” look across his face. Supposedly, the scene comes right after his legendary introduction at the impromptu town meeting where he offers to catch the killer shark for 10 g’s. So you’ve got Quint, a man with a past the townsfolk seem to be aware of and don’t care to acknowledge, making a bold speech with a dramatic exit and then immediately after, see a Quint who is more like a perpetually buzzed uncle harassing his nephew who adopts the track of “If I pretend he doesn’t exist…he may go away.” Maybe the film makers thought this scene would make Quint too lovable or maybe it was just cut for time, but for me, it solidifies Quint as the slightly imbalanced button pusher we get to know later on. The absence of this scene forces me to get reacquainted with the theatrical cut found on the Jaws Blu-ray..the trade off being a retooled print prettier than any we’ll ever see on a screen. The question should be…do you really want that?

I take a quick flashback to the day I brought home The Shining on Blu-ray. This cut is so clean and smooth it almost played like a vintage docu-drama. With Jaws, in order to see every little thing we had missed before, scenes in darkness appear to take place during some odd point in the day when everything is a deep blue. Of course, the rest is brilliant with bright colors (not bathed in yellows) and flawless clarity. I suppose it comes down to preference. If you are the type of person who misses records (actual vinyl disks) for their pops and bits of noise, having a vintage film converted to Blu-ray is probably not for you. That said, if you are a massive Jaws fan, even if you aren’t overly fond of the crispy clean Blu-ray cut, you’ll have to own this set for the extras, of which there are many.

"The Shark is Still Working" is a not so much a documentary as it is a love letter from people who clearly want to make out with the film. While it does touch on some “making of” elements, the feature is more about the impact of the film at the time it dropped and how it is still affecting fans and film makers alike today. The pace is brisk and all interviewed are entertaining, so this one is a long awaited keeper! "The Making of Jaws" is a monster sized 2 hour documentary covering just about any question you’ve ever had on the subject, answered by the folks who made every little thing happen. For a super fan, it is the beginning and the end of your Jaws universe ..which is to say you can fall asleep to it nightly with a giant smile on your face. For a casual fan, it is insightful, funny and fascinating. This is the story of people joined together to do the impossible…all the while scratching their heads wondering why they’ve even attempted the impossible. It is a lesson future generations should be soaking in!! "Jaws: The Restoration" will make film fanatics shiver with delight as they lay out the intricate processes used to go from old school to new and beautiful. "From the Set" seems to be pieced from on the fly interviews shot while filming, giving you a "live feeling" look behind the scenes that fills in gaps even the massive “Making of” still could not. Deleted Scenes and outtakes are quick and dirty, and sadly, not extremely complete. My favorite “Ode to Joy” scene is in there but cut short. What comes next is a treasure trove for the Jaws fanatic in your home, with storyboards, production photos, marketing materials and more alongside the original theatrical trailer.

The conclusion is simple. If you LOVE Jaws like I do, you have to own this Blu-ray release. Put aside my ultra clean Blu-ray bitching and fondness for the TV cut and what’s left is still the best collection of Jaws footage we’ve ever seen. Scout out your best price and pounce today!

JAWS arrives on Blu-ray for the first time on August 14, 2012. CLICK HERE to pre-order with 10 bucks off!

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