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Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition

Universal
Movie A++
Special Features C- (if you have the first disc), B (if you don't)
DVD Geek Factor: 5 (it's essentially a reissue) (out of 10)

This has long been my favorite movie. I talked my dad into taking me when I was 5 years old, much to my mother's dismay. I still remember the argument between my parents in the kitchen, with my dad defending my right to see it ("The kid likes sharks ... it'll be educational!") while my mother chastised him for being irresponsible ("That shark eats a nude woman ... no way will my little boy see that!"). Dad won out, accepting full responsibility for any scarring consequences that could result from my exposure to Steven Spielberg's shark adventure.

For me, the movie is perfect. People complain that the shark looks fake, but I argue that it's still the best-looking fake shark in movie history (The cartoon sharks in Deep Blue Sea were a real disappointment).

Performance-wise, the ensemble of Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw is as good as it gets. Dreyfuss went on to win an Oscar for The Goodbye Girl, but he was never more on his game than with his portrayal of oceanographer Matt Hooper. It's one of the best supporting performances in film history.

Spielberg has gone on to make films of great acclaim, but this is still his most expertly shot movie. Deciding to film some of the shark attacks from the shark's point of view was a stroke of genius, as was not showing the shark for much of the film's first hour. The shark actually not working contributed to that decision.

Jaws was supposed to be a cheap-thrill horror movie, but Spielberg brought a level of class to the proceedings that permeated all aspects of the film--the legendary John Williams score, the authentic New England locations and, yes, that unreliable shark. No film moment has ever scared me more than the scene where the raft boy gets it (the shot of him upright in the water as blood explodes from his body is unbelievable). An all-time-great gross out moment would be Quint getting eaten (You can hear his spine crunch!).

At this year's Jawsfest, a 30-year celebration of the movie, rumors persisted a new Jaws sequel was in the works, with Spielberg and Dreyfuss ready to go. I seriously doubt it, but if it does happen, I'll be first in line.

Special Features: This release is almost identical to the 25th anniversary disc, so buyer beware, because this is for hardcore fans and first-time Jaws buyers only. The big difference here is that the documentary has gone from one hour to two hours, which actually is a big plus for Jaws junkies looking for more trivia. Still, no commentaries.


Stripes: Extended Cut

Columbia Pictures
Movie C+
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 5.5 (out of 10)

Back when Stripes came out, I had just become a teenager, and rumors abounded that the film was the "dirtiest" movie around. Fellow junior high school kids whose parents were cool enough to take them to R-rated movies bragged of the many naked breasts they were able to see. A look back at the film reveals that, yes, this movie has a lot of breasts in it. Hell, in this new extended edition, there's a new nudity scene with P.J. Soles, so the naughty factor has gone up. As for the quality of the film itself, it has its moments, but it is lacking in comparison to other Bill Murray comedies of that era (Ghostbusters and Caddyshack were much better films). The classic drill-team sequence ("That's the fact, Jack!") is still a kick to watch, but it should've ended the movie. When Murray and co-stars like Harold Ramis and John Candy wound up in Russia commandeering some sort of urban assault vehicle, the movie fell apart.

Special Features : A two-part documentary has a surprising amount of participation from the principles (even the normally elusive Murray chimes in). Deleted scenes are no big deal (they've been integrated into the movie).


The Grudge: Unrated Extended Director's Cut

Columbia Pictures
Movie B
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 6.5 (out of 10)

I liked this American remake of the very scary Japanese thriller Ju-On, but it pissed me off that producers chose to release it with a PG-13 rating instead of an R. Apparently, two versions of this film were previewed, and the toned-down version tested better than the nastier one. With eight minutes restored by director Takashi Shimizu, this release is being touted as unrated, but it is actually something more akin to an R-rating. Most of these eight minutes occur during the movie's climax. The flashback sequence that shows the origins of the film's ghosts is a little grislier and crueler than what we saw in theaters. Another sequence with a ghost missing her bottom jaw has been extended to show a little more of her tongue hanging out. Hooray.

Special Features: Shimizu does a good commentary and includes a couple of creepy short films utilizing the Ju-On ghosts.

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