I went to see Dark Knight, the 3rd installment in the Batman series, last night. I went to City Mall, because the previous Saturday I had tried to see it at Silverbird only to find it sold out. I'm not too keen on the crowds of Silverbird either, so I thought "Why not try City Mall? I've never actually been to see a film there, although I go there from time to time because of its proximity to my office.
One of the bigest pluses about City Mall is the availability of parking. You never really have to drive round in circles looking for somewhere to park your car; or maneuvere uncomfortably to park somewhere where your car is teetering dangerously close to an open gutter or straddling the median.
Then, there is the general absence of a crowd, which quite frankly is not really a good thing for a shopping mall; the increasing number of boarded-up shop spaces each time I visit an evidence of this. First, Cafe Verrgnano (sp?) moved out and then the Wrangler store and two others whose names I do not know. However, if you do not enjoy having to swim through a sea of people, then this is perfect.
Problem number 1 yesterday was the film that was supposed to start at 8.15pm turned out to be 8.30pm. Not too big a deal in itself, until we strolled up to the hall to be asked to wait until the film before finished. 30 minutes later we were still waiting. When we were finally allowed in, I immediately noticed the bare-bones interior of the hall. Yes, I admit - I have been spoilt by the relatively plush decor of Silverbird and NuMetro cinemas.
I reasoned all this is why City Mall charges N800 per film, while SB charges N1,500.
Problem number 2: The hall was freezing. What the hell? Despite enduring five frigid New England winters, I hate the cold and get cold very easily. My friend offered that I might feel better when the hall filled up. Unfortunately, this never happened. We remained the 7 or so people all through the film.
When I could not take it anymore, I went out to ask the staff to turn down the AC. The only thing was Where on earth were they?
No where in sight. I spotted a security guard and asked him.
- They've gone.
- Gone where?
- Dey don go home.
- WHAT? All of them?
He shrugged again.
- It's very cold. Who can turn down the AC?
He shrugged (again).
I returned to the still freezing hall. I met a lady standing near the doors, wrapped in her headtie. She too, apparently, was cold. I told her there was no one outside. Her companion joined her and they both left the hall.
About 20 minutes later, the hall started to get noticeably warmer.
Thank God! Now, let me enjoy this film.
Problem number 3: About 15 minutes later, three people seated some way in front of us leapt from their seats in visible alarm. The man among them fled from the hall.
WTH is going on? My mind went immediately to creatures of the creepy and crawly variety.
From the moment we had entered the hall, I had heard a rustling sound coming from the wall near us and kept glancing in that direction to figure out what it was. Not seeing anything, I had assumed that it was the crackling of a faulty speaker. Now, I stared harder and more frequently to figure it out. And eventually I did when I saw a huge RAT crawling on the wall near the speaker.
I gave a muffled scream and alerted my friend who had neither heard nor seen anything. Jeez!! I ordered us to move our seats closer to the screen, where I perched at the edge of the seat glancing around me the whole time.
Hearing another rustle on the right side of me, I turned to see ANOTHER rat.
We moved again until we were almost clambering into the screen to join the cast of the film. By this time, Dark Knight had totally lost me. Clutching my bag in my lap, with my butt barely on the seat, I was ready to run at even the minutest rustling sound.
And the film dragged on and on. [Spoiler Alert!!!] They caught the Joker, they put him in a cell. They transferred him to the interrogation room. A policeman came back from the dead to cross-examine him. No dice. Batman had a go at him. Again, no dice. The Joker escaped.
Will this damn film just END already!!!!! Was that something moving on the floor? Okay, no. I'm imagining things.
Batman performed some technical wizardry to tap into all the city's mobile phones simultaneously. It looked and sounded pretty chaotic to me, but I'm a mere mortal. He was able to pick out one particular conversation that helped him track down the Joker.
He fought through floors of armed bad guys(?) to get to the Joker. He got to him eventually. They fought. The Joker had him pinned to the floor. Then Batman was on top. Batman had the Joker just where he wanted him. And then, he spared his life!!!!
Okay, I'm no advocate for violence; okay, maybe a little. But, the film just felt too long and I wanted a speedy, conclusive finale and my mind was elsewhere by that time.
So, when the screen went black and all the lights in the hall went off before the film had ended, I really didn't care anymore.
So, Ore's verdict at the end of the day? The film was actually quite enjoyable. Heath Leadger's Joker is completely different from Jack Nicholson's portrayal, which seemed more like an evil party clown to Ledger's twisted, schizophrenic monster.
The film, like many these days, was TOO LONG!
When you see it, please go to a comfortable cinema with no rats. Needless to say, that was my first and last time watching a film at City Mall.