What draws the viewer in is the ordinariness of the setting. The town looks lived-in, like a place any viewer may have lived in or visited at some point in our lives. The townspeople are familiar like aunts and uncles or neighbors we once knew. Their way of life is threatened in a very real way by the shark, but also figuratively by a force that is beyond their control. The story is cleverly crafted, primarily through foreshadowing and character reaction. The story builds with increasing intensity that grips the viewer in just the right places. Jaws is not a film filled with gruesome shark attacks. The shark makes is appearance at key moments, but in the case of this film, less is definitely more. Jaws is about people first and shark attacks second. That’s what makes it great and timeless. The performances of Scheider, Dreyfuss, and the scene-steling Shaw are not to be missed.
The meticulous restoration process used for this release has resulted in a spectacular looking Blu-ray. The picture is presented in 1080p AVC-encoded transfer in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to one of the special features on the restoration process, the original negative was repaired and scanned frame-by-frame. Spielberg himself says in the featurette that the resulting image looks better than when it was projected in theaters. I can’t personally attest to that, but the image does look startlingly sharp. The ocean water sparkles in the bright sunlight, the sandy beaches are warm and inviting, and skin tones look natural. The details are sharp, and the overall picture is vibrant.
The sound is presented in 7.1 DTS Master Audio. Modern audiences may find the multi-channel track to be on the sparse side, but considering the original film was originally projected in mono (as was common for its era), I found the new mix to be effective. Ocean sounds fill the surrounds, creating an immersive feel to the film. The bumps and knocks to the boat during the final act are eerily real, with deep bass response. The highlight of the entire soundtrack is Williams’ score, whether it is a sublte, almost subliminal presence, or surging from both the front and surround channels. Overall, I found the sound to be well done, and an enhancement to the visual presentation.