Jaws appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Expect a top-notch image from this Dolby Vision presentation.
Sharpness was almost always terrific. A few wide shots – such as those of Hooper’s boat – were a little fuzzy, but those remained rare. The vast majority of the flick displayed excellent clarity and definition.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and the image lacked edge haloes. I noticed no obvious signs of noise reduction, as the movie featured a good sense of grain. The image lacked print flaws and consistently remained clean.
Colors went with a natural feel that came across well. The hues seemed full and rich as they replicated the summer sights nicely, and the disc’s HDR added heft and impact to the tones.
Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows usually showed solid clarity. The movie’s use of “day for night” photography resulted in some excessively dark low-light shots, but those were inevitable and inherent to the original photography.
The disc’s HDR contributed brightness to whites as well as improved contrast. This became a fine transfer that appeared to represent the source accurately.
The 4K UHD sported a Dolby Atmos remix as well as the movie’s original monaural audio. I’ll talk about the monaural track soon, but first I want to discuss the Atmos mix.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the soundfield maintained an environment that favored the forward speakers but also displayed good scope. Dialogue stuck to the center channel, as did many effects, although quite a lot of ambient noise spread to the front side speakers and to the rears.
The surrounds fired mostly during underwater scenes or in other segments that used a gently-enveloping environment. The score also blended nicely across the front speakers, and often to the rears as well.
Any fears that the remixers would go nuts and create inappropriately discrete audio were unfounded. The track remained fairly modest and made only minor changes to bolster the environment. These added life to the soundscape, such as when a helicopter zoomed from the right rear to the front.
Audio quality was always quite good. Music sounded lively and warm, with real punch and power.
Effects showed nice range and clarity, so expect solid low-end response to accompany these elements. At times, speech seemed slightly flat and dull, but that was an artifact of its age.
The lines still blended well with the other material and seemed just fine. Multichannel remixes can be awkward and jarring, but that wasn’t the case here, as I thought the Atmos track gave us an involving reworking of the source material.
I also gave the original monaural track a listen and thought that it’s held up well over all these years. The lines could be a little hard and edgy, but they remained fairly distinctive and concise. The quality of the music surprised me.
Given the age of the mix, I didn’t expect it to appear so dynamic and rich. The music’s low-end was quite good, and the track replicated the score nicely.
Effects were also more than satisfactory. Occasional distortion occurred, but not enough to create a distraction. In general, these elements appeared fairly accurate and clean.
No issues with background noise occurred. Overall, I thought the mono mix deserved a “B”.
Which soundtrack you choose will depend on what you want out of the movie. If you prefer to replicate Jaws exactly as it appeared on movie screens, go with the mono mix. It sounds good and doesn’t show its age in a negative way.
If you want something a little more modern, go with the Atmos track. Yes, it changes some things from the original, but I think it compensates for this with all its improvements. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
How did this 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The Atmos track offered a bit more breadth and involvement compared to the prior mix, and visuals showed improvements.
In particular, the 4K UHD came with stronger definition as well as more vibrant colors, deeper blacks and smoother whites. I didn’t think the Dolby Vision 4K offered a revolutionary upgrade – and I suspect it used the same transfer as the prior Blu-ray – but it turned into a step up nonetheless.
As we shift to extras, we get a few on the 4K disc itself, and we start with a two-hour, two-minute, 48-second documentary called The Making of Jaws. Originally found on the 1995 laserdisc, this program offers the standard mix of movie clips, archival materials, and interviews.
We hear from Spielberg, author Peter Benchley, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown, shark documentarians Ron and Valerie Taylor, former MCA president Sid Sheinberg, stuntmen Richard Warlock and Ted Grossman, production designer Joe Alves, director of photography Bill Butler, composer John Williams, and actors Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Backlinie, and Lorraine Gary.
An extremely detailed program, “Making” starts at the beginning as Benchley discusses the origins of the novel. From there we find out about its title, the acquisition of the rights, finding a director, adapting the story and unused concepts, shooting real sharks and related topics, casting, filming at Martha’s Vineyard, filming many of the movie’s sequences, editorial choices, color and visual design, issues filming at sea, the design and creation of the mechanical shark as well as connected problems, the Orca, technical innovations, editing, reshoots, the score, screenings and audience reactions, ratings concerns, and general production problems and anecdotes.
Boy, do we get a lot of anecdotes here! And they’re uniformly good ones.
The show includes more than enough basic data to ensure it’s not just relentless storytelling, but those tales are what adds life and personality to the program. We get a real feeling for all the problems that befell the production.
The show moves things along briskly to make sure we find appropriate detail but we don’t get bogged down in minutiae. Fast, fun and informative, this is an excellent documentary.
The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of Jaws runs one hour, 41 minutes, six seconds as it provides notes from Dreyfuss, Spielberg, Benchley, Butler, Scheider, Zanuck, Brown, Alves, Gottlieb, Gary, Williams, Backlinie, monster movie historian Bob Burns, special mechanical effects creator Roy Arbogast, production executive William S. Gilmore, Jr., advertising narrator Percy Rodrigues, former Universal CEO Sid Sheinberg, musician Charlie Benante, Hollywood Worldviews author Brian Godawa, Cinefex associate editor Joe Fordham, documentarian James Gelet, “Making of Jaws” director Laurent Bouzereau, Jaws art collector Richard Martel, poster art illustrator Roger Kastel, stunt double Dick Warlock, shark behavioral ecologist R. Aidan Martin, horror effects artist Tom Savini, Spielbergfilms.com’s Steven Awalt, actor Craig Kingsbury’s daughter Kristen, special effects artist Kevin Pike, current owners of Jaws pool set Jeff and Victoria Myers, shark cinematographers Ron and Valerie Taylor, Jawsmoviearchives.com’s Edward McCormack, Jawsfest organizer Jeff Kristal, Jawsfest creative director J. Michael Roddy, Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce’s Valerie Richards, prop collectors Erik Hollander and Chris Kiszka, boat wranglers Lynn and Susan Murphy, Universal Studios Hollywood creative director John Murdy, marine biologist Greg Skomal, author Steve Allen, effects artist Greg Nicotero, filmmakers Kevin Smith, M. Night Shyamalan, Robert Rodriguez, Patrick Read Johnson, Bryan Singer, Eli Roth, Eduardo Sanchez, and Chris Kentis, and actors Jay Mello, Jeffrey Kramer, Lee Fierro, Jonathan Filley, Will Pfluger, Hershel West, Henry Carreiro, Dick Young, Marc Gilpin and Jeffrey Voorhees.
At the start, we focus on the conditions on the set, with info about challenges shooting at sea, getting the mechanical shark to function, actors and performances. The lion’s share of the documentary looks at the film’s post-release life, though; it goes over promotion and success as well as elements connected to the film’s influence and continued life in pop culture.
The components not related to the film’s actual creation give “Working” the biggest reason to exist; after all, we already learned a ton about the production itself in the “Making of” documentary.
“Working” does manage to unearth other details, and those fare pretty well. In particular, I like the parts about the film’s supporting actors/extras; it’s fun to learn that Fierro has been asked multiple times over the years to slap people in a recreation of her most famous scene.
The portions connected to the movie’s post-release life tend to be spottier, though. Make no mistake: this is a fan project, and it often feels that way, as it can be gushy and too heavily oriented toward praise for the movie and all involved.
I’d prefer that “Working” focus on production elements not addressed in “Making of” and spend less time with the ways the film lives on in pop culture, as the former tend to be more interesting. Nonetheless, it’s a generally good documentary and an enjoyable experience for fans.
Next comes Jaws: The Restoration, an eight-minute, 29-second piece that features Spielberg, Universal VP of Content Management and Technical Services Peter Schade, Senior VP of Technical Operations Michael Daruty, Universal VP of Image Assets and Preservation Bob O’Neil, Universal Digital Services Project Manager Seanine Bird, Cineric senior colorist Daniel DeVincent, Universal Digital Services Inferno artist Eric Bauer, Universal Technical Services mastering supervisor Phil Defibaugh, Universal Digital Services colorist Leo Dunn, re-recording mixer Frank Montano, BluWave audio executive director Richard LeGrand, and supervising sound editor John Edell.
We get an overview of the techniques used to bring the movie to video. This is a decent overview, though like most featurettes of its kind, it tends to seem a bit self-congratulatory.
We get a 13-minute, 33-second collection of Deleted Scenes and Outtakes. Most of these pieces are trims from existing scenes, though two are alternate takes of included segments, and one that involves Quint has no corresponding portion in the film. All of the scenes are interesting and fun, but you can see why were omitted, as they generally slowed down the story.
I don't want to ruin the sole true deleted scene by describing it in detail, but let's just say it involves Quint, a young musician, and "Beethoven's Ninth". It's a truly delightful piece, but it also deserved to be cut, as it introduced Quint too early. It would have made the existing scene when Quint scratches the blackboard less compelling.
The “Outtakes” last about one minute, and they cover three different topics. We get to delight in Roy Scheider's annoyance as his gun jams endlessly, and we also see some extra shots of Shaw as he spits blood.
We get a few takes of Quint’s assistant as well. It's not much, but it's a lot of fun.
From the Set lasts eight minutes, 46 seconds. This vintage featurette looks at May 6, 1974, the second day of shooting in America.
The British production focuses on Spielberg on the set, so we see him at work and also in some short interview clips. Spielberg talks about real-life shark attacks as well as the then-current Sugarland Express, his work with the actors and the challenges of filming at sea.
Out on the water, we watch problems with the scene in which Brody and Hooper find Ben Gardner. There’s nothing terribly revealing here, but it offers a nice slice of period life.
The 4K concludes with the film’s trailer, but the included Blu-ray copy brings a few additional components. A Storyboards domain offers some details on changes from the book.
This area provides 195 screens, 30 of which are actually production drawings. The 165 storyboards detail seven different scenes, five of which are alternate versions of existing pieces; those stuck more closely to the original book.
The other two storyboard scenes pretty much just equal what ended up in final cut. I'm not a huge fan of storyboards, but these are valuable since they cover material not found elsewhere.
The Production Photos section provides a whopping 364 frames worth of material. These are almost all candid shots from the set. The presentation isn't very friendly - God help you if you loved picture 350 and want to access it, since you'll have to skip through 349 frames to get there - but the material is strong.
Inside Marketing Jaws we get 70 stills. These include posters, ads, lobby cards, book and magazine covers, toys and other promotional materials. These are fun to see.
The final stillframe area, The Jaws Phenomenon includes 76 screens of images. We find a lot of international ads as well as promos for the Oscar campaign and elements that discuss the movie’s financial success - as well as the cute ads that appeared when Star Wars passed Jaws as the box office champ.
This “Limited Edition” package also includes a Collectible Book. It features photos, production art, ads, and a few essays. It becomes a nice addition to the set.
After 45 years, Jaws remains one of the all-time great films. Tight, briskly-paced and fully engrossing, it deserves its status as a classic. The 4K UHD offers excellent picture and audio as well as a broad and engaging set of supplements. This is as good as movies get, and the 4K UHD brings it home in a highly satisfying manner.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of JAWS