Sunday 3 August 2008

Why I'm never going to the cinema again

Blame Hellboy. Or more accurately Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.

I had decided to see the movie one afternoon at the West Mall multiplex in Bukit Batok near my home. I regretted it the moment I stepped up to the box office to buy a ticket.

When I asked if I could get a discount with my credit card as advertised by the bank, the ticket seller rather irritably pointed to a sign, which said that credit cards could only be used for payments of at least $20.

So no discount for me. Strike one.

Then when I went to find my assigned seat, I discovered that someone was already sitting in it.

Since the lights were already turned off because the movie was about to begin, I decided to simply take the next empty seat. The auditorium was less than a third full anyway.

Then somebody else came along and discovered I was sitting in his or her seat. I couldn’t tell if it was a “him” or a “her” because it was dark and I avoided making eye contact out of guilt that I had taken his or her seat. Like me, this person also decided to take the next empty seat.

Strike two.

Then when the movie began, there was no sound. At first, I thought that being the maverick filmmaker that he is, director Guillermo del Toro had made the daring creative decision to open the movie with complete silence.

But when the actors opened their mouths and no words came out except for the subtitles, that was when I realised something was seriously wrong.

Strike three – and you’re out!

It was at that moment that I swore I would never pay to see a movie at any cinema again.

The irony is that I didn’t even have to go the cinema to see the Hellboy sequel. I could’ve stayed home and watched it over the Internet for free, just like I did all the recent Hollywood blockbusters like Iron Man, Indiana Jones and Hancock.

But because I had enjoyed the first Hellboy movie on the big screen, I was willing to actually pay hard cash (since I wasn’t allowed to use my credit card) to see the second one on the big screen as well.

And I was being punished for it.

A few minutes into the silent movie, I heard someone, who sounded like a cinema employee, yelling in Chinese to the unseen projectionist that there was no sound and to restart the movie.

The screen suddenly went blank. After a few suspenseful seconds, the movie started again. This time with glorious sound, much to the relief of me, the person who had taken my seat, the person whose seat I had taken and the rest of the audience.

But we didn’t get any apology from any cinema staff.

Fortunately, the rest of the movie continued without any mishap except for Selma Blair’s acting.

A week later, in a moment of weakness, I was tempted to go see The Dark Knight at a cinema. Then I remembered my promise to myself and watched a pirated version over the Internet instead.

Sure, the video and audio quality sucked, but it was free. And at least it had sound.

- Unpublished

UPDATE: Breaking my promise to myself, I've gone to the cinema many times since this incident, but in February 2013, Cathay bought over the Eng Wah multiplex in West Mall.