I predict a riot. The scent of disgruntlement is already in the air. It appears the great deal that AMC Theatres offered for the Harry Potter marathon may have been a wee bit too good to be true. $40 for eight films seemed like a good deal, and it is. Especially when you consider that three of the films will be in 3D. However, on the first day of the marathon at AMC’s Mission Valley 20 theaters, we were shuffled into one of the smallest auditoriums in the house. That seemed fine at the time. It’s a sure bet the vast majority of us here have seen these films before, probably more than once, and we don’t need to be in the largest auditorium for it.
Then the gears in our minds began turning and grinding. The last Harry Potter movie… the grand finale… the big premiere… are we really going to watch the end of this long, strange trip… in here? I’m not the only one to wonder. Murmurs rumble throughout the theatre. Many of us assumed that our special deal would include admission to IMAX. That’s a big assumption, I grant you, but this is a massive cinematic event we’re attending. We’re here all week. We’re die-hards. Of course we want to see it in IMAX!
Now, ordinarily I eschew IMAX and 3D. I’m not a fan of either. At the same time, I do like to have a grand cinematic experience for films like this. If we’re not going to be in IMAX, at least put us in a grand auditorium.
Not a problem. AMC, with their new Stubs Reward program, is big on upgrades at the concession counter. Surely, they will have anticipated that those of us who have invested this much time in Harry Potter may want to upgrade to IMAX tickets at the additional price?
No. Apparently, once we bought those marathon tickets, we were locked into that auditorium for the entire run, including the midnight showing of the last film. One usher recommended we just jump to a larger auditorium as it will be playing on every screen in the house. Good idea, except that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is nearly three hours long and by the time it’s over, every auditorium in the house will be packed.
I get why AMC did this. It’s logistics. Here’s the problem. No options. No upgrades. No information. They HAD to know that the people who bought tickets for this week-long ride would want to see the midnight premiere in one of the best auditoriums, if not the IMAX. Yet at no time did they pass this information on to their patrons. We had to hunt it down.
Now we’re faced with two options: Watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows back-to-back in the smallest auditorium or forego the midnight movie experience and watch it on another night… at full price. That jumps the ticket price from $40 to $58. Which I would have gladly paid at the time had the option been available.
But soft, the marathon adventure continues.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Many people single out this episode as their favorite in the Harry Potter series. I am not one of those people. Though it has grown on me over the years, it has also not aged as well as the others. The opening scene with the Dursleys is downright dull. The sound mix is muted. The pacing is languid. Not until the dementors shut down the Hogwart’s Express do things start to get moving (I sense a pattern here). On the other hand, it has amazing production design and is perfectly suited for a Halloween movie (witches and werewolfs and ghouls, oh my!). This also marks an ongoing trend of changing hairstyles, represented here by the shabby, unkempt look.
Best bit: Harry’s ride across the Black Lake astride Buckbeak’s back, with the delightfully charming touch of watching the creature dip his claws in the water as he glides low across its surface.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Okay, this one is growing on me. I really didn’t like it the first time around and my problems with it still persist (I don’t care if they’re entering adolescence, cheeky sexual innuendo has no place in the Harry Potter world). It’s back to the 70s with the hippie hairstyles in this one and the tone is less… well… magical than the previous installments. Still, the dragon contest at the Tri-Wizard Tournament is engaging and the kids are starting to settle in comfortably with one another. Unfortunately, the movie’s most egregious sin is spending so much time on teenage angst and puppy love that the most important story point, the return of Voldemort, is blunted and rushed.
Best bit: Brendan Gleeson’s spectacularly delirious Mad-Eye Moody.
More to come. We’re halfway there.