The other day I went to see the movie Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, in IMAX 3D.
To say that this was not the movie experience of my childhood is putting it mildly. Back then, you went to a shabby little two screen theater, the kind with sticky floors, gum under the seats, and mice running around in the dim light reflected off the movie screen, and you had a perfectly grand time with your popcorn and your raisinets and your tall glass of mostly ice. And it was usually the only place you could go and sit in the air conditioning in the summertime.
Shit, but I’m old.
Anyway, contrast that with my Gravity experience and you’ll see how far we’ve come. The movie was showing at my local multiplex which has about a zillion screens and thick plush carpets and more than one concession stand serving four-course meals and video games in the lobby and… I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but then I realized. This is the sensory overload that is Las Vegas.
Gone are the days when you could shuffle in wearing flip flops and have your purse made out of a pair of jeans slung over your shoulder. No. Going to the movies these days is an event. You have to prepare for it. You have to be present. You almost feel like sending postcards to people. Well, you sort of do, because you’re tweeting and texting your fingers to the bone during the previews.
And talk about sticker shock. Between the 14 dollars just to get in and the ten thousand percent mark up on the food, you practically have to take out a bank loan just to kill two hours of time.
And when did 15 previews become the norm? I mean, previews are usually my favorite part. Previews are a movie boiled down to a thick, rich, dramatic broth. But when they go on for a half hour, you begin to feel like you’re being force fed.
But when the lights went down, rather than noticing mice scurrying in the darkness, I put on those 3D glasses and completely and utterly lost myself in the movie. I was floating in outer space, dodging catastrophes and struggling for air right along with the actors. It wasn’t until the credits began to roll that I began wondering how the heck they pulled off all those weightless special effects. During the movie it just seemed natural. And there could be no better testament than that to the overall experience.
My only gripe is that in each of the three spacecraft, there were ballpoint pens spinning through the air. Don’t you think that NASA, of all organizations, would have figured out how to go paperless by now?