Karl’s review published on Letterboxd:
While it's been slim pickings for theatrical releases it has given some theaters the opportunity to show two classic Spielberg films in IMAX. I was fortunate enough to see both. E.T. which was transcendent and while Jaws doesn't quite reach that practically-out-of-body experience it does provide an engaging, tense and joyful movie going experience. Despite seeing the film numerous times, I jumped at least three times. The huge screen really made a difference. Spielberg's tight framing of faces with just enough room for a shark to pop out is more effective than any special effects. It's amazing what one can do when they know how to set up a scene and frame just right. No computers required. I was concerned that the rubber shark (Bruce) might be more obviously fake but the timing is just right. We see just enough of the shark to be satisfied without becoming numb to it. John Williams iconic JAWS theme thundering from the speakers practically gave me a hit of euphoria. I certainly got goose bumps and a smile on my face.
Today was National Theater Day in the US. Most theaters were $3 including premium format. All the movies were sold out. It's obvious that if the price is right the audience will come. Movies were always supposed to be an affordable entertainment that all socio-economic classes could enjoy. I could go on and on about the pricing but I'll get back to the experience of watching JAWS.
When I entered the sold out theater I was impressed that an almost 50- year old film could pack them in. This wasn't a repertory theater but rather a first-run theater in a working class section of Queens. There were lots of families, including young children as young as 8 - 10 years old. I thought, oh no, what if they get bored and start talking or using their phones. To my delight they respected the masterful display of blockbuster filmmaking. Other than some, "look daddy it's the shark" there wasn't much disruption*. What really made me happy was that during the iconic monologue by Robert Shaw there was total silence. I thought surely there'd be some restlessness going on. It seems when you've got excellent writing and acting you don't need special effects or constant business to keep a general audience engaged. At least when you have a director like Spielberg at the top of his game.
*There was one guy using Instagram. His phone was set to full brightness. I was behind him and I couldn't let it stand. I had to protect the viewing experience for the well-behaved children around me. I calmly told him, "could you at least dim your phone". He put the phone away without protest. I know these situations don't always go so smoothly. It really shows the addiction these apps have over people as well as the self-centeredness. I'm not immune to this but at the movies I'm in church.