Jaws (Blu-ray / DVD)

Jaws (Blu-ray / DVD)Starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Bruce the Shark

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Distributed by Universal Home Entertainment

First off, it must be said that I have seen Jaws more than any other movie that I know of. I used to watch it every day after getting out of elementary school. From VHS to Laser Disc to DVD, I studied it and learned everything I could about it. What I’m trying to say is I know every frame, every brush stroke, every character's inflection, and every flaw about Jaws.

So now we have the definitive version of the film, and I have once again dived into the deep waters off Amity Island. I love watching my favorite movies on Blu-ray and rediscovering them, and while I have some nitpicks, Universal has done a damn good job putting this thing together.

Let me get this off my chest first: I want to make sweet love to whoever decided to finally fire the idiotic Photoshop-happy intern who redesigned the classic Jaws poster for the DVD. Finally we can all own the original beautiful Roger Kastel poster on the cover of our Blu-rays! Now, on to the movie itself.

The film is presented in an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in gorgeous 2.36:1 that was personally overseen by Steven Spielberg. The color balance and picture quality are crisp, and honestly, Jaws has never looked better. And it’s not an overblown digital mess either. The Wet Gate process Universal used to transfer the original 35mm negative to this HD master fixed many of the scratches and blotches on the original print; yet, it still has that wonderful natural film emulsion grain.

Even as someone who has seen Jaws so many times, I started catching things almost immediately that I had never seen before. Obvious things that I just never quite saw with the production and sound design:

  • “Vaughn Realty” on the side of Mayor Vaughn’s Oldsmobile.
  • All the other notices on the cork board that holds the “3,000 Dollar reward for the shark that killed Alex Kitner.”
  • That chalkboard. Good lord, that made my ears crawl.
  • Quint’s superb mustache and mutton chops.

    Jaws (Blu-ray / DVD) (click for larger image)

    The amount of work Universal and its team put into restoring Jaws is mind-blowing (especially after watching the featurette on it, but we’ll get to that later). No longer are the day-for-night scenes a whitewashed blue; now they're a deep beautiful blue. The water glistens and gleams in moonlight like never before. It was actually quite shocking to see just how detailed the water looks. I know that’s a strange thing to focus on, but it was the first thing I really noticed about the Blu-ray.

    If you are one of those silly people who always say, “The shark looks fake,” well, first of all, don’t speak to me. We will not get along. Secondly, the shark looks fantastic. The transfer to an HD format doesn’t suddenly showcase the flaws of the shark as much as I was afraid it might.

    I do have one small gripe, and I’m probably going to reveal more about myself than the film, but, Universal, what the hell? For years I have looked upon Chrissie Watkins' fabulous bouncy breasts on my worn-out VHS tape doing some sort of soft form of young adolescent mind masturbation. I could just barely make out those sweet gozongas when the shark was coming up from the depths to dine. It is a very awkward feeling for a young boy to have strong sexual urges right before seeing the same source for those urges be ripped to shreds while screaming obscenities at an unhelping deity. Talk about having a murder boner.

    So you’d think that in this glorious new Blu-ray edition we’d finally be able to take a good long look at Ms. Watkins' chesticles.


    They colored her chest area darker. Now you can’t see anything at all!

    So I ask again: Universal, what the hell?

    Jaws (Blu-ray / DVD) (click for larger image)

    As for the audio quality, the BD passes in spades. John Williams’ beautiful score booms through the soundtrack in a beautiful DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. The crowd scenes roar to life with all the background screams and splashing sounds. Where the audio really comes to life, however, is in the more somber silent scenes where the atmosphere pours through the speakers--specifically, the scene with Brody and his son mimicking him, which is my all-time favorite scene of any movie. The audio of that scene makes you feel as if you are in the Brody’s home, hearing the creaks of the house, the clinking of the glass on table, everything. It’s quite beautiful.

    Now for the extras.

    Thankfully with this new release Universal pulled no punches. From the Special Edition DVD we have all the deleted scenes and outtakes (which are mastered in standard definition) along with the original Making of Jaws, From the Set footage and Jaws promotional archives. Nothing exactly new here, but it's still cool to watch them over again (especially the deleted scenes, which I always get a kick out of).

    A new feature exclusively on Blu-ray is the highly anticipated The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of Jaws. I was fortunate enough to see this documentary many years ago and even did a review of it on Dread (which you can read here). It was actually one of the main sources of inspiration for us when making Never Sleep Again and was a perfect example of a film retrospective that gets it right. While the version included on the Blu-ray is very much that documentary, it is sadly not nearly as all-encompassing as its previous incarnation, which is ironically sad to me because in my original review I nitpicked that it was a bit too long. Now I feel it is just a bit too short.

    Jaws (Blu-ray / DVD) (click for larger image)

    Even so, it’s still an amazing documentary, narrated by the late Roy Scheider, that delves deep into the making of the film. No stone is left unturned here. The filmmakers' rich and loving enthusiasm for Jaws bleeds through the screen and makes you remember why you’re a Jaws fan. It’s hard for me to really properly review it, though, as I have now seen both cuts and couldn’t tell you for sure what was missing from this new one. That being said, what we do get on the Blu-ray is still nothing short of incredible. And nostalgic… When I first saw the documentary, everyone was still alive. Re-watching it in 2012, I’m reminded that we have lost so many wonderful and powerful artists since 2007: Zanuck and Brown, Percy Rodriguez, Peter Benchley, and of course Roy Scheider himself. More than anything we need to thank these guys for capturing the final word on Jaws from people whom we’ll sadly never get to hear from again.

    The other brand new special feature is Jaws: The Restoration, in which we take a 10-minute trip into the vaults at Universal and explore how they were able to take the 35mm original negative (like before they made the day-for-night scenes really look like night), put it through a process called the Wet Gate, which I mentioned above, and then through a rigorous coloring and digital scratch fixing course, all of which was overseen personally by Steven Spielberg. I loved watching this featurette as not only is it shot fantastically (it’s the only true HD bonus feature on the BD), but it’s extremely informative. As a film geek who works in the business, it's nice to get a featurette on a Blu-ray that actually takes the time to teach you something instead of just the usual “It was so great working with such and such.”

    All in all this is an exceptional package. While I wish Universal would change up its BD menus, this release far surpasses previous Universal Blu-rays and makes me look forward to future releases.

    No matter how it looks, Jaws will always be my favorite movie of all time. Sure, it’s nice to see it in crystal clarity, but, like with most legendary films that have become a part of the American mythos, it was always the story that attracted me. It made me fall in love with storytelling, filmmaking, characters, horror, marine biology, sharks, essentially all the things that make me...well...me.

    I have Jaws to thank for the life I lead. And I truly am thankful indeed.

    Blu-ray Bonus Features

  • The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of JAWS: All-new feature-length documentary featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with cast and crew including Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider.
  • JAWS: The Restoration: An all-new, in-depth look at the intricate process of restoring the movie.
  • The Making of JAWS: A two-hour documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew.
  • From the Set: An insider’s look at life on the set of JAWS, featuring an interview with Steven Spielberg.
  • Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
  • JAWS Archives: Take a peek inside the JAWS archives, including storyboards, production photos and marketing materials, as well as a special segment on the JAWS phenomenon.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • UltraViolet™: The revolutionary new way for consumers to collect movies and TV shows, store them in the cloud, and download and stream instantly to computers, tablets and smartphones. Currently available in the United States only.
  • Digital Copy: Viewers can redeem a digital version of the full-length movie from a choice of retail partners to watch on an array of electronic and portable devices.
  • pocket BLU™ App: The popular free pocket BLU™ app for smartphones is now even better with newly updated versions for iPad®, Android™ tablets, PC and Macintosh computers, with features made especially to take advantage of the devices’ larger screens and high resolution displays.
    - Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease.
    - Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the film.
    - Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray™ discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
    - Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU™-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray™. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
    - Keyboard: Entering data is fast and easy with your device’s intuitive keyboard.
  • BD-LIVE™: Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to access the latest trailers, exclusive content and more!

    DVD Bonus Features:

  • Spotlight on Location: The Making of JAWS: Highlights from the full-length documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew.


    5 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 1/2 out of 5 (1/2 point deducted over loss of titty)

    Discuss Jaws in our comments section below!

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    Buz, I recently watched the Spanish edition, or european edition, of Jaws in Blu-ray and there's no coloring. You can see all that you wanted to see of Chrissie Watkins. I was really surprised as how much you can see, considering that the film was rated PG in EUA. I don't know if is something for Europe only.

    Submitted by Max Renn on Thu, 08/23/2012 - 5:24am.
    The Buz's picture

    Ha! More proof that Universal altered it

    Submitted by The Buz on Sun, 08/26/2012 - 8:49pm.
    Jinx's picture

    Buz- I'm a little late to the party here, but I just wanted to say fantastic job with the review.

    Also, you worked on Never Sleep Again? Bravo, sir!

    Submitted by Jinx on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 7:28pm.
    The Buz's picture

    Yes sir, I was the Director of Photography. Was there from inception to completion on the project. Holy shit was it difficult.

    Submitted by The Buz on Wed, 08/22/2012 - 4:32pm.
    Terminal's picture

    Never Sleep Again was a fucking masterpiece.

    Submitted by Terminal on Wed, 08/22/2012 - 5:54pm.
    moderator Little did we know when we
    Steve Barton's picture

    Little did we know when we started working on Never Sleep Again that the title would actually dictate the pace of production. Very very proud of that flick.

    Submitted by Steve Barton on Wed, 08/22/2012 - 6:09pm.
    Terminal's picture

    You damn well should be.

    Submitted by Terminal on Wed, 08/22/2012 - 6:11pm.

    Buz, I mean no offense as that was a great, hearfelt review and all, but the complaining about the "covered up" nudity is a little silly and comes off as kinda of juvenile. Past transfers have all been too bright (especially the night scenes).

    The "darker" look of the opening is actually the way the film is supposed to look... this is why you think you're seeing "less" of the girl at the beginning. It isn't some kind of trickery to cover up the nudity (besides Spielberg said he would no longer alter any of his films). All the past laser-disc, VHS and DVD versions of the film were not calibrated properly to match the original prints. That's why the opening (and some of the other night scenes) look a bit darker here... they're supposed to look darker.

    I was lucky enough to see Jaws on a newly struck 35mm print a few years back and the nudity was just as dark as it was on the BD. The BD is the closest I've seen it in comparison to the theatrical print I saw... only better, as the BD is taken from the restored negative.

    Submitted by MouthForWar on Sun, 08/19/2012 - 7:43pm.
    The Buz's picture


    However that being said, and please do not take offense, but you don't really know what you're talking about.

    When you shoot day for night, you are either doing it for budgetary reasons, logistics, or artistic. Spielberg was dealing with the former but he utilized the latter as you can do interesting things with Day for Night shooting, I.E. having a very clean crisp subject in an otherwise darker image.

    When you shoot night, your backgrounds will fall off into infinity as they just will blend into the background darkness because they are not being exposed properly to the film, or you can light them up and then you'll get a little bit of definition.

    When you shoot day for night, this does not happen. Everything is exposed, which is why day for night is normally looked at as sort of a cheap way to shoot things because you just cannot have those same blacks that a real night shot would have.

    In Jaws, this day for night use is made extremely interesting by the fact that most of it is shot from underwater, or right above it. First this gives you a single color source to deal with when darkening, and it already darkens up your frame.

    Now when you darken a frame up in post, you darken up your entire frame or set of frames (clips). So in Jaws you have to deal with two things, one is the lighter pink skin tones of Chrissie, and the other is the dark blue water (which you'll note is not dark from underneath the water as the sun is shining through, creating a rather silhouette effect.

    So lets take that very specific shot. The one from under the water (we'll completely ignore the fact that the nipple you see as she's running down the beach is completely gone as well) if you were to just color that darker by crushing the highlights and blacks you would lose Chrissie completely if you wanted to completely lose the highlights of the sun, and if you brought up the medium lights you'd blow out the background but would see Chrissie better. It's neither of these because they met as you can clearly see her face and legs. Thus why I said it was a deliberate post effect because the only part of her that isn't visible is her chest area (her crotch was already in shadow and thus has never bee totally exposed though I'm sure the information is there.)

    Also keep in mind we're dealing with a High Definition format, a format that is supposed to allow us to see everything, even shadow saturation and detail. That's the whole point! If it was just a contrast coloring job then you should technically be able to see everything in the darks (hell a perfect example is Ben Gardner's boat which has a ton of detail in the blacks and that too was shot day for night.)

    Now the many MANY times I've seen pristine 35mm prints of Jaws I've always been able to make Chrissie Watkins wonderful mammaries out. I actually think the BD makes the darker scenes look better because it's able to bring out the detail that was usually lost in the muddy post coloring job of all previous incarnations. However it's unfortunate they chose to digitally darken her breasts.

    Juvenile? My fascination with boobs isn't juvenile so much as I don't know...human? When did you see Jaws? I saw it when I was 3. That was the first boob I ever saw that wasn't my mothers. Of fucking course I'm going to hold onto that holy grail. The only thing I can think of is Spielberg said "Let's just darken that area a bit" or because the MPAA is all powerful and are embarrassed by the fact that they gave the movie a PG (which it most certainly shouldn't be just based on the violence alone) forced Universal (or Uni did it on their own accord) to darken our precious boobs.

    Is it really that big of a deal? No, I don't care that much. I was throwing in some laughs in a rather serious document that I was writing. Right now I've already spent far too much time on it and can't believe I had to explain this to someone. Do you hear the woosh sound a lot?

    TOO LONG;DON'T READ: http://i.imgur.com/PHubQ.gif

    Submitted by The Buz on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 10:08am.

    Unfortunately, you DID just waste your time since I already knew most of that. I even shot a day for night scene for college a few years ago. Granted I'm not in the know about DVD authoring and color correcting, but I know how some scenes are calibrated differently than others based on how they were shot.

    My main point was that the breasts aren't the ONLY part of that scene that is darker than what we're used to, which is why I don't think that specific part was deliberately darkened. There are other scene taking place in the film during night time that are darker than past transfers also. That was my whole point.

    I'm not saying its not possible, just that I certainly don't see that being the case at all.

    Submitted by MouthForWar on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 3:00pm.
    Vanvance1's picture

    In a world where guns can become cellphones it seems very likely that someone in the blu ray design food chain would choose to hide the breasts.

    In American society breasts are considered far more dangerous and taboo than guns.

    Submitted by Vanvance1 on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 6:54pm.
    Jinx's picture

    I hope to someday live in a world where cellphones can become breasts.

    Submitted by Jinx on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 7:23pm.
    Vanvance1's picture

    This is my favourite comment of the week.

    Of course I may be breast-biased.

    Submitted by Vanvance1 on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 8:27pm.
    MonsterMash's picture

    Great review. Interesting that they would attempt to cover up nudity this late in the game. Do any of the DVDs do the same? I don't think mine does. Jaws was one of the first horror films I ever saw. Love it.

    Submitted by MonsterMash on Sat, 08/18/2012 - 10:58am.
    The Buz's picture

    No the DVD still had a bit of boob. Not as clear as my washed out VHS, but still Titty. Crystal clear high definition though? No titty. Fucked up I tell you!

    Submitted by The Buz on Sun, 08/19/2012 - 12:02am.
    The Buz's picture

    Thanks for the kind words guys. I was hell bent on reviewing this BluRay and want to thank HorrorChick and Uncle Creepy for letting me take the reigns. Meant a lot to me to write all of this out.

    Submitted by The Buz on Sat, 08/18/2012 - 1:56am.
    Genrewriter's picture

    Love the review, Buz. I grabbed the set a little early from my usual video store for $15. Worth every penny.

    Submitted by Genrewriter on Fri, 08/17/2012 - 11:52pm.
    Terminal's picture

    Wonderful review for a flawless film.

    Submitted by Terminal on Fri, 08/17/2012 - 10:41pm.
    Vanvance1's picture

    I just read that the remake of Jaws will be a musical. It seems the director was inspired by The Little Mermaid and felt a melding of the two but with a more suspenseful tone would be perfect for the new film and possibly later a Broadway musical.

    Submitted by Vanvance1 on Fri, 08/17/2012 - 8:37pm.
    moderator Amazing review, Buz. Truly
    Steve Barton's picture

    Amazing review, Buz. Truly heartfelt and engaging. Probably one of my favorites on the site. Cheers!

    Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 08/17/2012 - 7:34pm.

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