Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Whole Moviegoing Experience

All my life, I've loved going to the movies. VCRs, free rentals when I worked at Blockbuster--even my current combination of home theater (53" widescreen and surround sound--sometimes Mommy benefits from Daddy's splurges) and Netflix--nothing has changed how I feel about going to the movies.

And now it's even better. Not because of the movies themselves, which are often, unfortunately for 2005's posterity, lacking, but because I have A BRAND NEW THEATER TEN MINUTES FROM MY HOUSE.

When I moved to PA 13 years ago, there were three big theaters on this side of the river and three big theaters on that side of the river. Over the years, two over here closed and one went to crap, and two over there went to crap and one disappeared, to be replaced by a Hoyt's-now-Regal Multiplex. It was my first experience with stadium seating and comfortable seats, and when the service at the one remaining theater over here turned to popcorn crumbs and ignorance, I never went anywhere else. But Regal is still half an hour through city traffic, which makes impulse visits difficult.

So now we have a Cinema Center, which is not only stadium seating, clean, and with quick and friendly service, it's privately owned! I can support this wonderful local family while enjoying bathrooms that are RIGHT OUTSIDE MY INDIVIDUAL THEATER--no more rushing my six-year-old to the lobby when she gets bored. Every inch of it smells new, and the lobby is tons of inefficient, wasteful space that nonetheless looks supercool with movie posters the size of my house. No joke.

So entering the theater is now once again an enjoyable experience, and sitting down doesn't mean sliding in grease and pratfalling into the nearest seat, and I don't leave with a headache from the hard plastic back of the chair (why would anyone ever deliberately design such things, anyway?). Then there's the dimming of the lights and the first musical notes and glittering images that come on the screen. It doesn't matter to me that those notes and images are commercials first, as long as they're not for Fanta. Gaah! Why did I say that? Now I can't get it out of my head.

Then there are the previews. Ooooh, I got excited! I hadn't seen the preview for The Brothers Grimm before. It has Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, and it looks equally funny and fantastic in the fantasy sense. It looks like a clever melding of the authors and their tales, and I can't wait to see it. Dukes of Hazzard was a show I watched religiously as a kid, and I was pretty scornful of the idea of the film, especially when I heard who was cast. But from the trailer, at least, it seems to maintain the spirit of the show without parodying it. I like Seann William Scott, though I think he can play more than stupidos and should try it. Jessica Simpson rates high on my ew-o-meter, but it looks like she made a good Daisy Duke, I have to admit. My only complaint is they don't say anything in the trailer about Sheriff Ros-coe P Col-train, and I'm not sure this guy can do the "doit!" as well as the original. We'll see.

So the movie I went to, to christen the new theater (alone--I couldn't wait anymore!) was Batman Begins. I have to say, it was worth the $8. The story was solid, the development of the superhero very interesting, and certain one-liners and short exchanges kept the tone in balance. Christian Bale makes a good batman, though I think he doesn't top Michael Keaton, who had more depth but smaller pecs. Gary Oldman was a great early Gordon, and of course Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman can do nothing less than rock.

A few quibbles. Katie Holmes was fine, but didn't fit the tone of the film AT ALL. First, she was supposed to be a contemporary of Bruce Wayne's, but he came back from Princeton, not having finished it, and she was already an attorney, yet looks 15 years younger than he is? Didn't compute.

Something that would have bothered me less if someone else hadn't pointed it out: Wayne refuses to kill a man, then to avoid doing it he kills 25 of them. But none of them were smart enough to run OUT of a burning building, so I guess it's their own faults.

And I am really, really, really tired of all the useless damage in car chases. I'm sorry, no one person in danger justifies destroying the homes of a lot of people less fortunate. The city is in despair and clearly has money issues, but let's wreck some vital infrastructure, you know, for effect. And the cops are the good guys! I don't care if they're after Batman, let's not crush or flip or burn all their cars, okay?

Someone else said she thought the little bit at the end hinted at who the next villian in the next movie will be, but I don't think so. I think they were just paying homage to the things that are in the DC comics, making a connection between the past that was in the movie and the future that was the heart of the comic. I'm more inclined to think Cillian Murphy will be back.

Okay, I have rattled on MORE than enough for one night. Next week, come back to see what I think of Fantastic Four. I promise, I won't rattle on about the theater any more. :)

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