April 26, 2012

The Five-Year Engagement - AMC Empire 25

Mike: Erica won tickets to an early screening, and since this was something she was really looking forward to and stars Jason Segel, we couldn't pass up on the opportunity - even if it meant standing in a free screening line. Thankfully, this screening was very well-organized. The movie was an equally pleasant experience. As was the case with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in The Five-Year Engagement Jason Segel gives his own spin on the romantic comedy. Not only is the film incredibly funny, it's also sincere. It's a truly honest look at relationships. I also liked that, while it's a wedding-themed film, didn't get caught up in all the typical wedding planning antics.

Erica: I LOVED this movie. Not a surprise considering Jason Segel is in it. I normally don't like romantic comedies but Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller make a dynamic duo and hey free screening...I'm in. This movie was funny, clever and everything in between. Chris Pratt was extremely funny and was a scene stealer throughout. It has a lot of the NBC Thursday night line up in it (Mindy Kaling, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie plus Emily Blunt is married to John Krasinski). As Mike said, this was the most organized screening I have ever seen. Normally I avoid these like the plague but it's Jason Segel...and best of all the cast was in attendance. Another dream come true got checked off my bucket list that night...

I recommend this movie highly if you want to see a funny, witty, feel good movie. 

April 18, 2012

Casa de Mi Padre - AMC Empire 25

Mike: All I can really say is that it's silly. The whole movie is a single, stretched out gag that goes on for 84 minutes. Normally that's something I wouldn't like, but here everyone is in on it nobody makes a secret of it. The crew behind Casa de Mi Padre had an off-kilter idea and executed it on a low budget, partly as a gag and perhaps as an experiment. With not much at risk, I appreciated the freedom they had, and it shows on the screen. There's no concern of making every demographic laugh. Perhaps the main goal was just to make themselves laugh.
Not everything in the film is funny, but there was enough silliness to make me laugh, and with such a short running time, it's a risk worth taking for those with the right mindset.

Erica: I am not a huge fan of Will Ferrell. He is fine in small doses, when Mike said the movie was 'silly', that was an understatement. Parts of it made me laugh, but for the most part, it fell flat...although if you ask the lady next to me, everything was HILARIOUS. Everybody in the theater was laughing really loud. It is not slapstick comedy, but if you want to kill 84 minutes with just pure goofiness, check out Casa de Mi Padre.

April 12, 2012

Goon - VOD

Mike: I'd like say that Jay Baruchel should stick to acting, but do we really want that? His paint-by-numbers goofy foul-mouthed best friend character is about as annoying as you can imagine. A type of role usually reserved for someone like Seann William Scott. But here Seann William Scott plays against-type, giving a contained, reserved performance. I used to think that Scott could only play one type of character, but watching Goon I found myself wishing for the same-old Scott we've become so used to seeing, in everything he's ever appeared aside from this movie. I don't get all the Goon love that's been going around. It's a weak effort, something that tries awfully hard but completely misses the target.

Erica: As much as I like to disagree (it makes things more interesting...) I couldn't agree with Mike more. We watched this at home on demand, which was good because I would have been even more disappointed that I had a ticket stub that said Goon on it. Scott is better playing goofy and Baruchel should just be an occasional actor, if that is all possible. Don't get me wrong, Undeclared was an awesome show, but outside of that, he just isn't a good actor. I have not yet seen him in a good movie. This was a weak effort by both Scott and Baruchel.

April 10, 2012

How Regal got us to buy a soda

Erica: We NEVER drink soda. To me, it is wasted calories and as you guys know, we enjoy eating healthy so all we drink is water. This is an article on how the Regal E -Walk 13 got us to drink soda. Above is a photo of their soda machine. Pretty cool huh? When you click on a button, for example, 'Fanta', orange Fanta doesn't just pour out, they give you a choice of multiple flavors that you click, then it comes out into your cup. This is a FANTASTIC idea. I was fascinated by the machine that it got us to buy soda just so we can play with the machine...

Not only is it a great idea with several choices, I feel it is far more sanitary than the regular soda machines. This is essentially a touch screen machine (like an ipad or tablet) which is far easier to clean than those gross plastic tabs that you need to lean the cup against.

Also, with this machine, you are in control of the amount and you can mix and match any flavor combinations you want (although some might be strange but just having the option is pretty cool).

April 06, 2012

The Hunger Games - AMC Essex Green Dine-In Theater

Erica: We have established time and time again that the best place to see a movie is at the AMC Dine-In Theaters so once they released showtimes for The Hunger Games there, I was down. Movies of this length are the absolute perfect thing to see there. We got seats in the back row this time, a row we have never sat in, so we were a bit concerned if the legroom and screen view would be the same. It was still as fantastic as ever and they didn't screw up my food this time! Although we didn't get the complimentary amenities we are accustomed to when going there (maybe because it was packed). No free popcorn, mints, or hot towels, but all that aside, still a great experience.

 I didn't read the books so I wasn't on the bandwagon but I drank the Kool-Aid and we went to see the movie people have been obsessing over for months. I am not even sure it was worth all the hype. The movie was entertaining and kept my attention, I just don't know if it was $153 mil. opening weekend entertaining or worthy. I spoke with someone who read all the books and saw the movie and found out how much was missing from the movie. Which is obviously to be expected however, I was surprised how little Liam Hemsworth's character was in the movie (being that all you see on tv is his mug associated with the movie). That being said, it's fine for what it was. It was sweet, action packed, and often times heart-wrenching to watch young kids going into battle for no reason (at least not a reason that is made clear. Just to come out the best district?! Who cares?) 

Mike: I actually sat through all the Twilight movies, so anticipating a similar craze, my expectations were very low. I haven't read any of the books, but I found myself enjoying the Battle Royale-like story and look forward to the sequels. It was a bit long, and it seemed to work hard to satisfy fans of the books. There were some moments where I couldn't really figure out the significance of something, but aside from that, The Hunger Games is a pretty cool movie.

Regal's RPX - a review

Mike: Last year, we told you about our underwhelming experience with AMC's ETX - a premium theater experience that's supposed to rival IMAX. We tried ETX at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square when we saw the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film. Regal has a similar gimmick - theirs is called RPX, Regal Premium Experience. And recently, we finally got to try it and see how it compares to ETX.

Now, we hope to have another feature for you sometime in the future where we compare a handful of IMAX screens to AMC's ETX and Regal's RPX, to see which ones are good and, more importantly, which ones are worth it. But before we put that together, we want to visit some more IMAX screens and also re-visit ETX, if only to see if AMC fixed the jagged screen.

If you've read some of our reviews, it's clear that we're pretty high on AMC. We really like their Stubs program, their Gold and Silver discount passes, the AMC Healthy Snacks, and particularly their pre-Noon matinee pricing. But we thought ETX was kind of a rip-off and dubbed it 'an Excuse To charge Extra.' We tend to stay away from Regal Cinemas - the UA Court Street 12 situated just blocks away from us is usually a zoo, and we hate that there is no matinee pricing for Regal's Manhattan theaters. So we don't go there very often, but lately we've made a number of visits to Regal's Time Square theater, the E-Walk 13. We'd wanted to try the ETX screen there, and when 21 Jump Street was playing finally decided to check it out.

I should preface that while I'm usually able to tell if something looks and sounds good, I'm by no means an expert. I'm pretty easy to satisfy in the sound department - as long as it's able to play loud enough and there are no noticeable defects, I'm fine. I don't care for the super loud sound with the rumbling walls. In terms of the screen, I think it's important that it's properly framed. I can't stand it when something is slightly off, which happens way too often. Big is nice, too. And it bugs me when the image isn't bright enough. I don't have a discriminating eye for that stuff, but I can usually tell when something's off.

One of my problems with IMAX, ETX and RPX is that, yes, they're raising standards for cinema presentation, but at the same time, they're lowering standards for non-premium screens. But, I'll delve more into that when I compare a handful of different Manhattan premium screens.

After watching 21 Jump Street in Regal's E-Walk RPX, I can say - it's very nice. Starting with the auditorium's entrance, Regal has very effectively branded this as a special screen, and it's pretty cool.

The screen inside is pretty big, but not noticeably bigger than some of the other screens at the E-Walk. The leather seats seemed roomy and comfortable, and it was very clean. Again, even inside, there's RPX branding everywhere - all across the walls and even on the seats. A loud introduction demos the sound before the feature - at first I was worried that I'd have to sit through this loudness for the next 90 minutes, but never did the volume of the movie meet that of the intro, thankfully.

I should note that we didn't see a movie here on a Friday or Saturday night. I have no idea whether there is any audience experience control from Regal. The audience was fairly quiet when we saw a movie on a Tuesday night after opening weekend.

But is it worth it? I don't know. I was more impressed with this presentation than I was with AMC's ETX. But would I pay $20 to see a movie here instead of on a regular screen for a lot less? Absolutely not. And I didn't - we got these tickets for $5 each. RPX has the same approach as ETX - take the biggest screen, fix it up, install the highest number.1 available sound system, get good projectors, make everything look nice, and charge more. Except RPX is doing a lot more to sell it. The showmanship is a lot more impressive. Plus, whereas I had some issues with ETX (particularly the screen), everything looked good and sounded good on the RPX screen. I had zero complaints. If there's a movie that I'm really looking forward to seeing and I want to make sure I want to see it in the best available presentation, then I'd absolutely go see it at RPX. But what I'm really interested in is RPNJOAX, the Regal Premium No Jerk-Offs Allowed Experience, where obnoxious talkers, smartphone users, and any and all cinema offenders are promptly removed from the theater.