Having a bit of free time (and a hangover from a session at the Pint and Fight on Sunday night) I needed a quiet diversion to while away the daylight hours on Monday. Darkness was the thing needed to help with the head, so after consulting the current Mrs Headlander a trip to the cinema was decided upon.
So off we went to our local cinema (can you really call a multi-screen multiplex a local cinema) to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3. This was not one of the greatest experiences of my life We arrived at the Vue cinema at 11:45 15 mins before the 12:00 starting time to find the box office just inside the doors closed due to a new computer system. I never found out whether this was a temporary problem or a permanent change caused by more and more people booking tickets online. I suspect the latter as the notice that was pinned up went on to say that we should purchase tickets at any stall inside. So in we went the only stall open was the burger/popcorn counter and so, after a pre-film micturation we headed there to be greeted by two members of the undead race one girl behind the counter and one spotty lad stood close by watching.
My cheery two for Pirates of the Caribbean please was met by a bored reply of Twelve o clock showing to which I wanted to reply no you stupid bint a week Wednesday why do you think that were here on a Monday lunchtime just before a screening is about to start but after a kick in the shin from Mrs H I contented myself with just saying Yes please. Two tickets were handed over and beer tokens paid in exchange. The uniformed couple of zombies then looked at me expectantly and I stared back into their glazed eyes until I realised that they were waiting for me to automatically order food and drink all was becoming clear this was why you bought tickets at the food stall and not the box office! This is not a nice tactic – Its easy for me to resist buying all this junk but just you try it if you are there with wife and a brace of kids in tow the bill could be huge but as I said no problem for a stolid, prudent fellow like myself. As we headed for Screen 2 with the vat of cola and brickies hod full popcorn that I had just purchased for 5.80 odd I reflected that I had, of course, only spent the money because the film was to be three hours long not because Im a greedy old git. Heres another point about this (and Im sure most other) cinemas
Why does a portion of popcorn and a drink cost more than the ticket to see the film This is a disgrace! I asked for a small cola and a small popcorn and was given 500ml of cola and a really big bucket of popcorn Heaven knows what you get if you ask for either of the medium or large sizes that are also available! So, loaded down with drink and popcorn we entered Screen 2, where we sat alone for ten minutes wondering if we were in the right place. At 2 minutes to 12, another couple of couples and a single bloke came in and took their seats this was to be it 7 people to see a film in a cinema that seats a couple of hundred and none of them children or adolescents perfect! At 12 oclock precisely messages started appearing on the screen advertising Vue cinemas, Vue cinemas recruitment (I remembered the living dead working out front of house and shivered at the thought of working along with them perhaps Vincent Price interviewed them on one of his periodic returns to Earth from beyond the grave), Vue cinemas this and Vue cinemas that and the other. Oh yes and every few seconds a message appeared warning all 7 of us to turn off your phone before we turn on the film. After seeing this 20 times I wanted to switch my phone on and call the cinema I was sitting in to tell them to bloody well get on with it! At last the lights went down a little and guess what adverts (but at least I got to hear the Pearl & Dean music again!) and more bloody adverts… No I dont want a Mac Neither do I care how Coke comes out of a vending machine I just want the $%&*^& film to start please!
Hope at last! The lights went down a little further and then trailers these were a bit more bearable than the adverts Shrek 3 looks like a good laugh and the latest Fantastic Four flick looks OK as well I might even be tempted to see one of them. At 12:30, half an hour after the published start time, the lights went all the way down and finally Pirates of the Caribbean 3 started. Well almost the picture overlapped the screen at each side and also at the bottom. Then it disappeared and we could clearly see an image of the bulb in the projector. Next it flashed across the screen from bottom to top then more bulb then half on the screen then a final instalment of bulb and then a proper picture that fitted the screen just about perfectly. During all this time that the projectionist was fighting his equipment the soundtrack continued but in essence we had missed the first few minutes of the film.
On a good note, the rest of the film continued without any further untoward happenings and I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to those of you who havent seen it. Someone let me know what happens at the start though if you would be so kind. At the finish we had three quarters of a bucket of popcorn still intact so we left it on the seat. I hope someone coming in for the next showing enjoyed it as much as we did. At its best cinema is a sublime experience. When things go like they did up to the first 5 minutes of Pirates of the Caribbean its no wonder that so many people buy their films off of some Chinese fellow in the pub. Get a grip Cinemas of Britain remember customer service, sort out the snacks and publish the time that the film actually starts oh yes and employ a projectionist who has tested everything and knows what hes doing. And bring back the bloke rising from the stage on a Wurlitzer!