Yesterday I went to see Harry Potter 5 in the Odeon Leicester Square cinema (review coming soon). I’ve been now to three of the cinemas around Leicester Square (Odeon, Empire and Vue) and I must admit that I’m kind of disappointed. These cinemas are way more expensive than regular ones and I kind of expected that the experience would be worth my money. Here’s a review of what I found of the cinemas:
Vue Leicester Square
I went here a couple of weeks ago to see Magicians. It wasn’t the main movie they were showing, so I was in one of the smaller auditoriums. I’m not even sure if they have a larger auditorium, but if they do, the prices are all the same. The screen was a bit on the small side. I’ve been to other (cheaper) Vues where the screen was bigger. It’s kind of ridiculous; you pay more money for a lesser experience.
Empire Leicester Square
Two weekends ago I saw Die Hard 4.0 here on their main screen. It’s quite a large auditorium with 1330 seats. With this size I expect a nice big screen. Well, it wasn’t. It’s not as if it was small, but for that amount of seats and with the distance that you’re sitting away from the screen, I’d want it pretty big. I even think that the screen in Rotterdam (Schouwburg Plein) is more effective. I say more effective, because I don’t actually think the screen is bigger (they only have 762 seats). But due to the way the seats are placed (quite steep), you’re much closer to the screen and it makes you feel as if the screen is huge. With this cinema though it really felt as if the screen was too small. You can’t completely immerse yourself into the movie.
Another huge annoyance was the “Red Carpet” featurette they showed before the movie containing small interviews with the actors of Die Hard 4.0 and clips of the movie. I mean, come on! We’ve just paid to see the movie, avoided all trailers not too be spoiled and then they stupidly show clips of the movie we’re about to see. Where’s the logic in that?
On a slightly more positive note, the sound was excellent during most of the action scenes. With some of the dialogue scenes though I really had to struggle to hear what they were saying. But then with Die Hard 4.0 you don’t really go there to appreciate the captivating dialogue, do you? The sound problem has got something to do with the range of the bass/treble (can you see I’m no expert on this ?). So the loud music and sound effects comes out great, but voices… not so much. I wonder if they boost the speakers or somethinng like that, because it’s an action movie and that with “normal” movies the sound is okay. I’ll have to try that out one time.
Odeon Leicester Square
So yesterday afternoon I saw Harry Potter here. Now, most of the time I don’t like going to movies in the afternoon; something just doesn’t feel right when you walk out of the cinema and it’s still light outside. In this case though with this cinema, tickets are cheaper in the afternoon, yet still more expensive than most regular cinemas.
We booked tickets right in the front of the Rear Circle (the cinema is split up in three parts: Stalls are below in the front, Royal Circle is the more expensive middle part and Rear Circle is the upper balcony). Now, I thought sitting on the first row of the Rear Circle would be pretty good; it’s cheaper than the Royal Circle and there shouldn’t be much difference with the last row of the Rear Circle. What I kind of forgot was that the front seats of each Circle have a sort of balustrade in front of them. Meaning that if you’re as large small as I am (1.63) and sit back comfortally in your chair, about 30% of the screen is missing. It’s weird that they didn’t design it better. You’d think that they’d have tested it out or something. We didn’t stay in those seats though; after we noticed nobody was coming in anymore, we moved back one row.
This auditorium was just huge with 1679 seats and the screen was pretty large (larger than the Empire one). It had the same problem though as with the Empire cinema; the screen just doesn’t seem effective enough for the amount of seats. However, we were sitting in the cheaper Rear Circle. I’m not sure, but maybe in the Royal Circle the experience would be better.
As with the Empire cinema the sound was louder with the action scenes and softer with the dialogue scenes. The overall sound, however, was louder, so the dialogue was more hearable. Cristiano was complaining that it was actually too loud, but I thought it was okay.
I was just disappointed with all three cinemas. When I go to a movie, I want to be able to immerse myself into it. I want to feel as if the movie is happening around me and captivates me completely. A big screen and great sound, really helps with this. I don’t want to be distracted with trying to figure out what the guy is saying. I don’t want to sit so far from the screen that I just as well could have stayed in front of my tv. These cinemas are supposedely the best of London and people pay more to see movies there. But it doesn’t feel as if I’m getting a better experience than if I go to any regular cinema. I have to admit, I haven’t always had the best spots (especially in the Odeon) and I might change my mind after going a couple more times. But for the amount of money you have to pay to go there, I’m not sure that will be any time soon in the foreseeable future.