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DVD Review - Jaws - 30th Anniversary Edition

June 29th, 2005

Recently Universal released a special 30th anniversary edition of Jaws. Does this 2-Disc DVD do justice to this classic film?

Synopsis: It's Jaws, easily one of the most famous movies of all time. I'd be shocked if anyone reading this didn't know the plot to Jaws. But just in case...

Martin Brody moves his family from New York City to Amity Island to get away from the big city and the crime but just before the start of the crucial summer season there's a shark attack. He immediately orders the beaches closed, but the Mayor overrules him and convinces the medical examiner to change the report to state it was a probably boating accident. After a young boy is killed in another, much more public attack the mother offers a $3000 dollar reward to whoever can kill the shark. Grizzled shark hunter, Quint, says he'll kill the shark for $10,000, but the town balks at his offer.

After a shark is caught the town breathes a sigh of release and plans to reopen the beach for the Fourth of July celebrations over the objections of shark expert Matt Hooper who claims the shark couldn't have killed the two swimmers. Fourth of July brings another attack and the town has no choice but to hire Quint to kill the shark. So he, Chief Brody and Matt Hooper, go aboard the Orca to kill the Great White Shark.

Movie Review: It's Jaws! One of the greatest films ever made, nearly flawless in every aspect and it's still every bit as effective as it was 30 years ago. I could go into heavy details about why the movie is so good, but I can't imagine I would be able to say anything that hasn't been said about the movie a hundred times before. Simply put, this movie should be in everyone's DVD collection, it's that good.

Special Features: Since this is a Special Edition, the extras are not only judged on their own merits, but must be compared to previous edition.

Disc One:

Deleted Scenes and Outtakes - 13:33 total
12 deleted and extended scenes. Most don't add much to the movie, but there are a couple of scenes that give more background information and a particularly good scene showing what a madhouse the shark hunt was, which is certainly entertaining to watch. Following those scenes are outtakes from three scenes lasting just under 90 seconds. These were available on the 25th Anniversary Edition.

From the Set - 8:40 A British featurette from 1974 about the making of the movie. Includes a behind the scenes look and on set interviews with Steven Speilberg, who looked way, way too relaxed. It's only day two of shooting so he hadn't quite figured out what he had got himself into.

Disc Two:

The heart of the special features is a feature-length documentary about the making of Jaws, which hasn't been released since the laserdisc edition of the movie. The 25th Anniversary Edition had a pared down version that ran less than one hour. It's an amazingly detailed look at how Jaws was made starting at the very, very beginning, (Peter Benchley discusses his inspiration for the novel) and discusses every aspect of making the movie, it's meteoric rise up the all-time charts and even how the film became part of popular culture.

The documentary isn't stylish as it's mostly just talking heads with the occasional clip from the movie and some behind the scenes shots, (including some of Steven Speilberg's home movie footage.) What it lacks in style it more than makes up in in-depth content. More than a dozen people are interviewed for this feature including cast members (Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary) and crew Steven Speilberg, John Williams and many, many more.) There are some truly entertaining anecdotes told during the 2-hours, (I won't go into details because I couldn't do them justice) and overall it make you appreciate the film a whole lot more.

Fans of the film will want to watch it several times and this feature alone makes the 30th Anniversary Edition worth the upgrade.

There are also several image galleries are on the second disc, but these were also included in the previous release:

  • Storyboards and Original Drawings - includes a couple of scenes never filmed
  • Production Photographs - photos of the cast & crew, as well as behind the scene shots
  • Marketing Jaws - includes posters, merchandise, books, magazine covers, and even some toys
  • Jaws Phenomenon - Posters and other marketing from around the world, includes the names the film was called in other markets, (in France it was "The Teeth of the Sea") also includes Oscar Campaign material and the ads put out announcing the film's climb up the all time charts.

The last two sections would have really benefited with the addition of trailers, TV spots, etc. from both for the domestic ad campaign and other from international markets. Maybe it will show up in the 35th anniversary edition.

The final extra is not on the DVD, but is the roughly 60-page companion booklet called Jaws, Commemorative Photo Journal. However, while it is well done too much of the information in the book is either directly from the movie, or is shown in the making of documentary rendering it rather redundant.

Of the special features on the 25th Anniversary Edition that were not used on this release, none of them will be really missed. The trivia game, information on sharks, even the trailer is not all that special. (Although that last one probably should have been kept as it went well with all the other promotional materials featured in the image galleries.)

If I was to look for things to complain about I could probably come up with a couple. Firstly, it is a double-dip, but this is a minor complaint since the previous release is five years old, which is a more acceptable time between releases than what we usually see. Secondly, there's no feature-length commentary by Steven Speilberg, but I don't think anyone was expecting that feature. As far as I know, he has never done a feature-length commentary.

All in all, the 30th Anniversary Edition is a great DVD release for an amazing movie and is a must have for those that don't own Jaws on DVD. For those that do, it is still worth the upgrade.

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Filed under: Video Review, Jaws