DVD Video - Reviews [Jaws: 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition]
ORIGINAL FULL DVD REVIEW
Jaws (Collector's Edition)
Release Date: 7/11/2000
Run Time: 125 minutes
Starring: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Movie Summary: [Horror]
Based on the book by Peter Benchley, son of author Nathaniel and grandson of author Robert Benchley. The tourist season of a resort island is devoured by a Great White Shark. The ensuing "fishing trip" to catch the monstrous maneater is filmed with power and suspense and set to a thrilling score by John Williams. Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Picture. Academy Awards: 3, including Best Original Score.
Widescreen 2.35:1 (16x9) / Dual Layer / Dolby Digital 5.1 / Captions in English, French
Making of documentary featuring video interviews with Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, Peter Benchley, Richard D. Zanuck, David Brown, John Williams and others involved in the film / Steven Spielberg's home movies / Behind-the-scenes footage of the mechanical shark / Shark World, an educational look at sharks / Live shark footage shot by Ron and Valerie Taylor / Outtakes from the film / Storyboards and production photographs / Original advertising, marketing and publicity materials / Theatrical trailers
n the four and a half billion years of Earth's history, Mother Nature has seen countless species rise and fall from the primordial soup of life. In all this time, beasts large and small became victims to one another as prey - a key factor in the game of life. As recently forty thousand years ago, the Earth gave birth to a new breed of beast - a relentless, terrifying beast devouring anything in its path. This creature deviated from the progression of natural selection as the first ever to unconditionally become the top of the food chain. This atrocity of a life form was rather unimaginatively dubbed a 'Human'. Humans came forth, multiplied, consumed, transformed, constructed, multiplied, and consumed some more until early laws set forth by Mother Nature seemed to dissipate - 'survival of the fittest' no longer applied. Imagine the looks on those Humans’ faces when Mother Nature fights back...
Apply this as the premise at the onset of a major motion picture project and you’ve got a grand slam winner in nearly every case. Steven Spielberg’s second movie is no exception. The 1975 thriller, JAWS is making waves around the world once again with a 25th anniversary collector’s edition release of the box-office smash to DVD. Highly anticipated, the emergence of JAWS represents the second title in a collection of Spielberg films destined to reach DVD by the year’s end, set in motion by 1999’s hit Saving Private Ryan. This series of releases signifies the enthusiasm of yet another important film industry figurehead in regards to the DVD video format. Now, not only can we look forward to more award-winning Spielberg films, we can hope that his move towards DVD will help to encourage those few who continue to hold out against the medium. *COUGH*LUCAS*COUGH*
I’m quite satisfied to find that the very first release of a classic like JAWS to DVD would make its way straight to the shelf as a ‘Collectors Edition’, completely circumventing any sort of ‘normal’ release. The package is complete, down to the last detail, to the point where I think that wanting anything further would be simply unthinkable. In my shark-like frenzy (how could I resist?) to release the title from its Costco-enforced bindings, within I found a charcoal-colored keepcase. The title is wrapped in a fair reproduction of the original artwork (though there has been rumor indicating that the area around the female swimmer has been altered slightly from the original); it is printed on a silver-foil stock such that the reds and blues of the cover image shimmer, beaming a poignant inference of the terror that lay within. In haste, I stripped the packaging of the protective edge-covering tape and unleashed the power within. But before I had time to react, the ‘Business Reply Mail’ leaflet launched from the depths and into my hand! This was not the treasure for which I plundered - I pressed onward. A small foldout page, a cleverly disguised self-adhesive anti-theft device, ah here we are - the lovely, laminated, RSDL Anniversary Collector’s Edition.
The disc has everything you’d expect to find on a Collector’s Edition: documentaries, deleted scenes, background and production information, trailers, storyboards, and a boatload of other little extras. The Making-Of JAWS documentary runs a full 55 minutes and is packed with carnivorous goodness. There is plenty to absorb as you get close and personal with Spielberg reminiscing about the good old days. The deleted scenes are all run together in a reel clip that lasts only a couple minutes consisting of nonsensical and redundant footage. There is also a separate set of ‘outtakes’, but there are only a couple that last long enough to draw some profanity out of Roy Scheider. The disc also contains a silly, 12-question trivia game that, unless you persistently (and purposefully) hit the wrong answers, is impossible to lose. After a stunning personal victory, I got to see the good guys win. If you’re ready for a nice little nap, dive into the production stills section - you’re sure to find your jaws agape in sleep-defying yawns in no time - though there are admittedly some silly photos here that are worthy of a peek. For those of you who have not been doing your homework on public access television, there is a ‘Shark World’ feature as well which will safely guide you through some in-depth close-ups on lifestyles of the tough and spineless.
Remarkably, I find the video on this disc somewhat… well… unremarkable. If there was any effort in restoring the old film footage, they certainly hid their work well - the entire film is riddled with hairs, flecks, spots, debris and sharks. Err… yah. Even film grain can be spotted which tends to translate poorly to MPEG2. But the video does have gorgeous color balance, contrast and black levels - go, go Technicolor! There appears to be some minor edge enhancement in effect. While I support and advocate anamorphic video transfers, I can’t help but think that the effort was somewhat futile on this title. The notorious John Williams’ musical score is a compliment to the title, as with, it would seem, most of Spielberg’s films. The DD5.1 track is liquified with watery sounds all around, but the surround channels seem to be more pervasively influenced by the music. The dialog is focused primarily in the center channel. The audio track seems to have submitted itself cleanly to digital transfer - I only wish the same could be said of the video.
The JAWS 25th anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD is a buy-worthy title. I have to wonder how the heck they got away with a PG rating with some of the crazy shots found in this film - I’d have slapped a blood-soaked ‘R’ onto its face, myself. Those of you who have been fiending for a good, nasty, bloody rampage to make its way to DVD, here’s the classic that you’ve been waiting for!