So two things i’ve been looking forward to for a long time are going to see The Dark Knight and finally getting to see a movie at the IMAX cinema out at the Glasgow Science Centre. It’s a crying shame that the actual experience of going to watch the movie didn’t match up to the movie itself at any level.
So the movie itself is just frickin’ awesome. All kinds of awesome. Every performance is note perfect, and makes me itch for more. I don’t want to go too much into the movie, as I tried to stay clear of any pre-release hype to keep the movie fresh for me when I saw it, and I don’t want to spoil the experience for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. However, if you’ve seen it, you hopefully know what I’m talking about.
No, the reason I’m blogging about going to see the Dark Knight in IMAX is sadly rationale for yet another “neuro is ranting” post.
The actual experience of the IMAX segments of The Dark Knight were truly stunning, expanding the more traditional widescreen segments vertically up- and downwards to absolutely fill the field of vision. However, the non-IMAX segments of the movie had terrible black level definition, as though someone had turned the brightness way up on your television. That’s my only real complaint about the movie presentation itself, as the IMAX segments were amazing (I’ll keep reiterating that to make the point that there’s nothing wrong with the IMAX process itself), and the sound system was leg-shakingly loud.
Well, except when the ushers used it as a PA system. Just before the start of the movie, after seeing some postage-stamp sized ads, and a 5 minute fluff piece on Christopher Nolan and crew espousing how awesome IMAX is to shoot with, one of the ushers gave us the lowdown on where the exits where (I’ve just gotten back from a couple of weeks travelling; the last thing I want to hear is someone on a PA telling me where the exits are … are there lifejackets in this cinema too?) and to “keep your feet on the ground, get ready for The Dark Knight: the IMAX Experience”. Just get on with it!
I should point out that my agitation at this point was that it was around 11pm by now. We’d gotten to the Glasgow Science Centre at about 9pm to get our tickets and avoid a massive queue — indeed, we were amongst the first into the cinema itself — but then we were made to queue until around 10:45pm for a 10:15pm showing. It was nearly half one in the morning by the time we got outside.
So the movie starts. I’m sat in my rather uncomfortable seat, drinking my bottle of Coke which had gotten lukewarm between my buying it and actually getting sat down. Our little movie going group had already eaten most of our movie munchies. And we still had two and a half hours to go. This was not going well.
And so the movie finished. Not five seconds after the end credits have appeared, the lights went up (well I say “lights”, it was a massive spot up in the rafters somewhere) and another usher grabbed the mike to tell us to take our rubbish with us, and to use the exits at the back of the theatre. Meanwhile, the credits have gotten to Michael Caine’s name. I don’t mind the lights coming up after say 10-15 seconds of end credits; most movie-goers are on their feet by that point anyway, but to actually interrupt the movie by blabbering on a PA is massively disrespectful to not only the feature, but the process too.
I now have an indelible impression that going to see a movie or feature in IMAX will be marred by dreadful pre-entry procedures, awful seating, poor herding of patrons, and shoddy treatment by the staff to whatever’s being shown; sadly I shall never return to the Glasgow IMAX cinema. For every moment I was enjoying the movie, there was another wishing I was back at home, in my comfy chair watching something in HD on Sky or on my Mac mini, and that surely is a damning indictment of any “experience”.