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Monday, February 18, 2013

In Which Ark Lodge Cinemas Saves a Movie From Its Own Mediocre Direction

Posted by on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Based on Megan Seling's review, I went to see A Good Day to Die Hard at the Ark Lodge Cinema in Columbia City this weekend. And to explain what happened, I have to give you a little background on my preferences: I'm not a perfectionist when it comes to audio and video quality. I just don't give a shit about the difference between Blu-rays and regular DVDs when watching TV shows and movies. I can watch the most scratched-up film print and, if the movie is interesting enough, the poor quality of the video and audio will barely register with me. But more than anything else, the quality of the moviegoing experience at Ark Lodge blew me away. The picture was crystal clear; it was like putting on a pair of prescription glasses after suffering through a week of blurriness. And the sound system was amazing, too. A lot of chain theaters simply amp up the bass so you feel the explosions deep in your gut and everyone pretends that that's good enough. But Ark Lodge's sound system surrounds you with the large and small noises of the film. It's like sitting in the middle of the action, in the best way possible.

I cannot emphasize enough how little this sort of thing really registers with me. I saw three movies this weekend, and one of them was in a shitty box on Federal Way that smelled like farts and plastic and I was still so happy to just be watching a movie in a theater that none of that mattered to me. I love Cinerama for its totally engrossing experience, but I could not compose an ordered list of the quality of presentation in Seattle movie theaters, from best to worst. But now I can tell you that Ark Lodge definitely belongs at the top of that list. Also a compelling reason to visit Ark Lodge: A matinee show and a (pretty damn large) small popcorn with real butter is just ten bucks. It's a great little neighborhood movie-house, and it's less than five minutes walk from the light rail. If you love going to the movies, you owe it to yourself to go visit.

As to A Good Day to Die Hard, I mostly agree with Megan that it's a suitable evolutionary step in the series. I appreciated that a lot of the action wasn't CGI; there were a lot of real cars that got blown up real good for this movie, and that's becoming a rare treat. But this movie was directed by an idiot. It's rare when I think that I could do a better job framing and filming almost every shot in a movie, but John Moore makes so many remedial mistakes that even an amateur director plucked straight out of high school could probably have done a better job. Bruce Willis's punchlines get stepped on, action is obscured by weird framing choices, and great opportunities are missed at just about every turn. I'm convinced that a better director—hell, just a competent director—could have made A Good Day to Die Hard one hundred percent better. As it is, the movie finds its successes in spite of Moore's bizarre choices and terrible judgment. But at least the fastidious quality control of Ark Lodge ensured that I managed to enjoy everything about A Good Day to Die Hard that was worth enjoying.


Comments (10) RSS

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Bauhaus I 1
Not to nitpick your experience, Paul, but $10 for popcorn still registers as outrageous to me even if it's $12.50 everywhere else. Even with real butter.

I just heard Friday that Cineplex Odeon is going to purchase the Fifth Avenue and the Park Theatres in Vancouver. Two of the most comfortable, wonderful, homey, affordable theaters I've ever been in. They use real butter, too, and their popcorn is fresh and served by a very friendly staff. I't around $4.00-6.00 Cdn. As an American, it blew me away.

The owners wish to retire after many years of providing the community with a great place to experience cinema. I hope Cineplex Odeon keeps that small, friendly tradition afloat. Can't say that the experience of a corporation buying in has always been a good one, but there's always hope. All of the employees, according to the press release, are keeping their jobs. Very best wishes to all.
Posted by Bauhaus I on February 18, 2013 at 2:51 PM · Report this
It's 10 bucks for popcorn and a movie ticket.
Posted by clintboxe on February 18, 2013 at 3:15 PM · Report this
He's saying the matinee ticket + popcorn was $10 (not just the popcorn) - that ain't a bad price...
Posted by ducki3x on February 18, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 4
Thanks - no...that's a great price. I stand corrected.
Posted by Bauhaus I on February 18, 2013 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 5
Just saw 'Return of the Guardians' at the Crest last night for $6 for me and The Future Mrs Dr Awesome. Water and a small popcorn was $9. That's fifteen bucks TOTAL for the two of us to see a flick and get something to nosh on. We shared the popcorn, obvs.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on February 18, 2013 at 3:39 PM · Report this
wisepunk 6
If you have pre-game cocktails at rookies around the corner, bring your reciept for a free popcorn. Likewise, bring your movie ticket to rookies afterwards and get half off a free app. CC is very connected.
Posted by wisepunk on February 18, 2013 at 3:55 PM · Report this
There's two movie theaters in Federal Way and you went to the shitty $2 one and you're complaining about it? There's a reason one theater is $2 and the other is $9-$10.
Posted by K on February 18, 2013 at 4:48 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 8
Hi Paul:

So I went to the Ark Lodge Cinema link in this post, which led me to the Stranger's version of Yelp. I asked for directions via its embedded Google Maps experience, and it told me to drive there. From 6th and Pine, just above the light-rail line.

Full-on Google maps gives car, transit, walking, and biking directions, but your site only gives car. At least link to the full site if you can't embed other options. It would be more consistent with the Stranger's pro-transit ethos.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 18, 2013 at 7:31 PM · Report this
TLjr 9
@8: Learn to click.
Posted by TLjr on February 19, 2013 at 12:05 PM · Report this
My friend and I spent Superbowl Sunday in Columbia City. We ate brunch at Lottie's, had drinks at Columbia City Theater, then watched Silver Linings Playbook at the Ark. My friend pleasantly commented on the price of movie and a popcorn. The theater itself is a wonderful experience. Since the Light Rail has opened, we have made Columbia City a steady destination and loved the freedom to stretch out in our city in a way that is more convenient.
Posted by CommonKnowledge on February 19, 2013 at 1:07 PM · Report this

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