★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“You yell shark, and we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.”
The one that started it all is back, as the original summer blockbuster that had the crowds queuing round the block in 1975 arrives on Blu-ray for the first time. With a 25-foot great white shark terrorising the shores around a New England island community, the chief of police (Roy Scheider), a scientist (Richard Dreyfuss) and an egotistical hunter (Robert Shaw) venture out to the open water to destroy it. Young upstart Steven Spielberg, with only his second theatrical feature, presided over a production beset by problems, from a spiralling budget to a malfunctioning mechanical shark, and crafted a lasting masterclass of pacing, tension and characterisation, propelled by John Williams’ legendary score. The result is as close to perfect as movies get.
The beautiful restored transfer is sharp and clear, cleaned up without being scrubbed of its filmic look, and rich in detail. It’s backed up by a robust 7.1 surround track that fully envelops, particularly when the music starts to build.
Produced by fans (which isn’t as worrying as it might sound), The Shark is Still Working is a splendid 100 minutes of everything Jaws related, from its production problems to the revolutionary marketing that contributed to its phenomenal success, while filmmaking fans like Bryan Singer and M. Night Shyamalan discuss the impact it had on them. The highlight might be the candid footage of Spielberg at the moment he learns he didn’t receive an Oscar nomination for best director.
Jaws: The Restoration details the huge amount of work that went into the making of the Blu-ray, and there are also a handful of deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer.
Quite simply one of the most entertaining movies ever made, and looking fantastic on Blu-ray with hours of fascinating extras, this is one of the top releases of the year and a must-buy.