Category Archives: amc loews
I admit I was a bit hesitant when I heard the plan. The AMC Marlton Movie Theatre was going to jettison hundreds of seats in order to install new reclining loungers. I thought it was the last gasp of an already dying, perhaps on its last gasp, local theater. My friends and I called it literally ‘the dead theater.’ There was never anyone there, you always got a parking spot in front, and when the news came that they had finally closed, no one would be surprised. Not in the least.
Allow me to swallow those words.
Twenty, thirty years ago, the Marlton 8 as we called it, because it had a multiplex of eight theaters, a novelty at the time, was the happening place to be on the weekend. It was the place to be seen, and the place to see all the latest movies. Every date happened here. Welcome to the 1980s. Die Hard, The Breakfast Club, Amadeus, Batman, Weird Science, Robocop, Dirty Dancing, even Silence of the Lambs, I saw them here, and so did everyone else I knew.
There was a time, with the T.G.I.Fridays and the long forgotten ice cream parlor in the strip mall, every parking spot was taken and police had to direct traffic within the shopping center, sometimes blocking areas off to kids and other foot traffic. Three months ago, and as far back as maybe a decade ago however, the place was a ghost town. Business had moved elsewhere, into Voorhees with the Ritz, now Rave, and into Cherry Hill with the airport terminal sized and customer unfriendly AMC Loews with a whopping twenty-four theaters.
This weekend, The Bride and I had date night, On the Border for dinner and then Jack the Giant Slayer for movie. As this was the first week the Marlton renovation was complete, we chose there. I was stunned when we pulled into the nearly full parking lot. This was the Marlton 8 of old. Things got better as we went inside.
The lobby got a nice repaint and remodel as well. The refreshment area is a bit different too. Besides new menu items like chicken fingers, chicken sliders, pizza, and oh yes, French fries, there were also two Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. Color me impressed.
We did have to wait a while for them to clean the theater before we could go in and sit. I’m thinking it takes more time to clean individual seats than it did previously to just do a quick sweep. The line of impatient folks waiting to get in were not so understanding. I guess no matter how nice a theater is, there will still be jackasses who complain, and talk during the movie, use their cellphones, and bring toddlers to 10 PM showtimes – no way around it. Damn mankind, we’re doomed.
The new seats are incredible, reclining loungers that come in pairs where can pull up the arm between them and cuddle. They also come with three cup holders each and touch controls to go up and down. Sooo nice. I did notice the theater’s current occupancy was now 115 where it used to be between 200 and 300.
This is an incredible risk for the theater financially, especially when you consider we paid a very reasonable price for two prime time 3D tickets, nearly a third less than we would have paid at the Rave or Loews. I hope it succeeds.
I loved this movie experience. I have a new favorite theater. I can’t wait to go back.
Wreck-It Ralph ~ After helping friend Marni celebrate her birthday at Red Lobster, The Bride and I decided to continue the evening as a date night, despite the raging rainsnowstorm outside. We hadn’t been able to see Wreck-It Ralph since it’s been out so we trekked across Route 38 to my least favorite theater to see it.
It was a rainy/snowy Wednesday night, and that may have something to do with it, but I was pleased to see the place nearly empty and doing very little business. I couldn’t wish it on a nastier movie theater. That said, to be fair, we had no problems on this trip. As a matter of fact, the young man who took our tickets was very helpful. But you know, too little, too late. Gonna take a lot to change my mind about this place.
First things first, Wreck-It Ralph being a Disney/Pixar flick, we get a Pixar cartoon before the main feature. “Paperman” was a sweet short utilizing different animation than usual for Pixar, and it also had a bit of a Japanese anime vibe to it. I liked it a lot, a big reason to see this movie is to see “Paperman” first.
Wreck-It Ralph, the newest from Disney/Pixar, is loosely at first glance a cross between Toy Story and Tron. Like the first movie we discover that the entities in our videogames actually live, especially when we’re not looking, and like the second flick we discover that they live in their own little universe with its own physical and moral laws, all within the confines of one arcade.
Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy in a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., essentially close to Donkey Kong in many ways. Ralph, shunned by the other denizens of his game, determines to leave his game and make good. He goes off to Hero’s Duty, a hybrid of Halo and Starship Troopers, to win a medal, and recognition. When things go awry, he becomes stranded in Sugar Rush, a mix of Mario Kart and Candyland. There, Ralph must decide if truly is the bad guy, or a hero.
It’s a complex plot that is quite dark in places, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable journey through 1980s videogame nostalgia. It has a sharp sense of humor, great characters, and the voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and especially Jane Lynch is first class. There are also many cameos of classic videogame characters that make the flick a real treat.
An added trivia bonus for old school videogamers is the song that plays over the closing credits, “Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph” by Jerry Buckner, formerly of Buckner & Garcia of “Pac-Man Fever” fame.
I liked Wreck-It Ralph quite a bit, and while I wonder if this might be over or under the heads of some folks who weren’t into, or alive for, 1980s arcade games, I highly recommend it. Great flick.
The Amazing Spider-Man ~ I have to confess, when I first heard they were rebooting Spider-Man for film, I couldn’t believe it. As my friend Andy Burns has noted in his spoiler-free review, it was “too soon.” But alas to the Hollywood folks and their revolving teenage demographics, sadly the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy may have been decades ago.
While I hated Raimi’s third Spidey movie with its pseudo emo goth Peter Parker making an ass of himself in the jazz club (I’m not even going to mention Venom), I still would have liked to have seen John Malkovich as the Vulture, Anna Hathaway as the ironically catty Felicia Hardy, and finally to see Dylan Baker portray the Lizard. It was not to be. Apparently like Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin, Spider-Man 3 was a franchise killer.
Hearing about the new film was one thing. I knew Andrew Garfield from the stage, and thought he looked the part, but was still unsure. When photos began to surface, it seemed there were going for a much younger demographic, and that the emo Spider-Man was going to be done seriously, not for irony or laughs. When I further heard that major characters like Mary Jane Watson and J. Jonah Jameson would not be involved, I was further repulsed. I had no interest in this film, perhaps, just because it was a superhero movie, I would eventually see it on DVD or on cable, if at all.
Then I saw the previews. The previews, both in 3D and 2D were incredible. They had found a way to take what was cutting edge technology in 2002 and blew us away with Spider-Man swinging through the streets and make it more mind-blowing. Much like a new rollercoaster or a new attraction at Walt Disney World, I had to see this flick. Emo be damned, I was on board. So much so that when The Bride suggested, on a whim, that we see the 1:45 AM showing of The Amazing Spider-Man the night before the Fourth of July, I was like aw yeah baby.
This was the full-on bells and whistles version I should note, and it has quite a bit to do with my enjoyment of the film. Counting snacks, IMAX, and 3D at an AMC Loews theater (a place regular readers know I have sworn off for the most part), this late night evening out came to well over sixty dollars. This movie had better be damned good.
Marc Webb, whose only other theatrical film is (500) Days of Summer does an amazing (pun intended) job at direction, especially when it comes to Peter Parker being a kid in high school. I dare say he may have even been bullied as well. This is a very real picture of the high school feeding frenzy hierarchy. Even though his Parker is a skateboard shredder science geek outcast, a nice updating here actually, Andrew Garfield breathes more life into the role than Tobey Maguire ever did. I honestly would not have thought that possible. Garfield also brings that smart ass Spidey personality out in a way Maguire never did.
Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is a conundrum. At first I did not like her at all. She was sooo not Gwen Stacy. She seemed too old, she seemed too smart, she seemed, well, not poor doomed Gwen Stacy. As the movie went on, I did warm to her, and started to root for her. The movie Gwen was a different entity, and in the just over two hours I experienced her, I started to like her. And then, the script fell into the toilet. More on that later.
Rhys Ifans was a decent Curt Connors, although somehow I didn’t expect him to have that sort of accent. Maybe a southern accent being from Florida and all, but British never occurred to me. Ifans is suitably troubled as Connors but having the same well-spoken voice, clear of stereotypical but expected lisps, as the Lizard was quite a surprise. The Lizard’s maniacal super-villain turn surprised me, as its specifics didn’t seem in line with any version of the character I had seen before.
The connection between Dr. Connors and Peter’s parents, a plotline nearly promised in previews (there are posters calling this flick ‘the untold story’), is left hanging and vague, obviously hopefully waiting for sequels. With the Lizard, is where the film starts to fall apart for me. Why a lab in the sewers? How did he get all that equipment down there? We see at one point that some points in the sewers are too small for the Lizard to get through. Why are lizards attracted to him? These things are never addressed, never explained, and frankly pretty silly.
Webb’s casting of notably younger and quite famous actors as Aunt May and Uncle Ben is an interesting one, perhaps to bring the older fans in who would be alienated by the casting of Garfield and Stone, actors they might not have known. Sally Field, despite her real age still seems much too young to play Aunt May, although it must be said she does a wonderful job, everything on mark. I really have no complaints. But. She’s no Rosemary Harris.
Martin Sheen as Ben is an interesting choice. He looks the role, and I can never say ill of any performance he gives, as he’s one of my favorite actors. I thought it an interesting coincidence that both Sheen and the previous Ben, the late Cliff Robertson, had shared a role before – John F. Kennedy. Sheen is wonderful in the scenes he has, but I have one complaint, and it’s a big one. He never says “With great power comes great responsibility.” Blasphemy! That’s like telling Superman’s origin and not having Krypton explode. It’s essential.
The rest of the cast is rounded out well. Nice transformation of Flash Thompson, as played by Chris Zylka from “The Secret Circle.” I also liked Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, although he essentially plays himself throughout the movie. That could be construed as a complaint, but it’s not. I like Denis Leary, and he’s at his best when he is himself. His fate here is a bit convoluted when compared to the comics, but it is what it is.
There is much to like about this new version of the Spider-Man legend. I liked the various updates, especially in the technology. The origin is brought into the present a bit. I really liked that we have the web-shooters back despite how much the organic ones from the Raimi trilogy made more sense. I didn’t like that it seemed like he stole them from Oscorp however. Overall this was a great flick for the first hour or so. And the visuals are stunning, especially in 3D IMAX.
And then, in the third act, it crashes, hard. I’ve already mentioned my problems with the Lizard, or at least some of them. He seems to also have the same CGI dilemma that Sean Connery had in Dragonheart, he changes size and shape depending on the circumstances. Sometimes he is man-sized, and sometimes dinosaur-sized. Make up your mind and stick with it.
Gwen, likable as she is by the third act, is quite the little heroine herself. She stands up to Flash Thompson, her father, and even the Lizard, but at the end is told to ‘wait in the car,’ like a good little girl. What? What?? And then she does. Wow. That’s where that sixty dollars missing from my pocket started to hurt.
And then there is Garfield himself constantly taking off his mask. I understand the actor’s need to emote, and be seen, but let’s face it, if the role you are portraying is Spider-Man, it should be understood you will be wearing a full face mask throughout the film. If that’s not good for you – guess what? This role is not the role for you. It’s called a secret identity for a reason, Andrew.
When the crane workers of the city somehow got to their vehicles in the middle of the night, the have their cranes ready for a wounded Spider-Man to web and make his way to the Oscorp building… I was livid. How did they get through one of the largest and most populated cities on Earth to do this while it was being evacuated? And how did they know Spider-Man was going to the Oscorp building? And why couldn’t Spidey just web buildings as he usually does? It was his leg that was injured, not his arms. And if the police were on his side at that point, and they were, why couldn’t they just give him a ride with their helicopter? We do know that Stacy was going that way too.
All of the good will toward the movie was draining away at that point. Sixty dollars and an hour and a half of great movie with stunning visuals – and it falls apart in the last twenty minutes? I’m sorry, folks, but a wonderful dinner can be ruined and forgotten easily if you choke to death on the last bite.
The Amazing Spider-Man is a good movie up to a point. It’s definitely worth seeing in an Avatar to see the effects, but be prepared not to get your money’s worth with the script logic. Don’t forget to stay through the credits for a teaser for more Spidey movies. See it, but be warned.
Fright Night ~ Now I’ve never seen the original film that this 2011 remake is based on but when I saw that there was a special movie premiere on board the Disney Dream of Fright Night starring fan favorite “Doctor Who” David Tennant, I had to be there. The audience, mostly tweens for an R rated flick, was the polar opposite of the other experiences I had had in the Buena Vista Theatre on board the ship. The kids weren’t all right. Let’s put it this way, up until about five minutes into the film, I might as well have been at the Cherry Hill Loews. It chilled out after that except for one or two comments (clever for the most part) and of course about a dozen screams and jumps during the scary parts.
I was surprised at how clever this was, and rumor has it the original was as well. I will have to Netflix it to find out, but that’s a good thing as it’s not necessarily a movie I would. I’m rather ambivalent about slasher movies – which to my misinformation this isn’t even though I thought it was. Some are good and some are bad, I’m not a lover or a hater, they’re just not usually my thing. Vampire flicks on the other hand, even after the recent deluge of vampire media in the last decade or so, are a guilty pleasure, but again, some can really stink as well.
This new Fright Night stands up well on the good side. There’s a lot of sarcasm, injokes and nudge-nudge-wink-wink going on here but it’s a lot of fun. Anton Yelchin, Checkov from the new Star Trek, is a young man whose neighborhood is quickly vanishing one by one and all the evidence points to his new neighbor, Colin Farrell doing a Bullseye imitation sans accent, being a vampire and doing the dirty work. He turns to a Criss Angel type entertainer famed for his vampire slayer magic act, the tenth Doctor, David Tennant, for help. Toni Collette is always a joy to see on the screen, and the cameos by Chris Sarandon (from the original film) and Lisa Loeb were fun.
At first appearing to be quite a jerk, Tennant is the highlight of the film, along with Farrell’s subtle but decisively evil vampire. There are shocks and blood galore, but not much real gore, more humor than gore really. There are a few very frightening scares, but if you’re paying attention you should be able to see them coming. The new Fright Night is a fairly entertaining horror movie, worth checking out.
Megamind ~ When I saw the first preview of this film months and months ago it seemed like a sly parody of the Superman mythos and a more original super-intelligent foe, sort of a Luthor/Brainiac hybrid. As clever as it seemed, the previews that followed as the release date got closer seemed to reveal more and more of the plot. So much was given away that I feared that I had not only gotten the gist of the flick, but perhaps no longer needed to even see the film.
The truth of the matter was that I felt I no longer needed to see it. I got the point. I could wait for the DVD or even for regular television. Bottom line, the only reason we did see it was because we had several gift cards for the theater and decided to make a night of it. Free goes a long way toward making things more enticing. Unfortunately the gift cards were for Loew’s, and you folks know how much I like them. The quality or relevance of Megamind completely aside, I could not believe how much it cost to see this flick on a busy weekend night, in 3-D, and in IMAX. It was enough to put me off first run movies for a while. Thank the gods for gift cards.
Now I’m not going to give away any details of Megamind for the sake of the folks who have yet to see it, but suffice it to say that what I said and believed above was not true. The whole movie, nor the entire plot, is not revealed in the previews. There’s a lot more to this than meets the eye. And it is clever, and rarely goes where you think it is. This is a smart superhero parody for the whole family, working on several different levels, and it’s also the best use of the new 3-D I’ve seen in quite a while. David Cross steals the flick, and even Will Ferrell is good here, and I usually don’t like him. Recommended.
You’ve all heard my rap on Loews Theatres in Cherry Hill NJ before, but after my experience Christmas night I have come to the conclusion that not only don’t they want my money – they don’t want your money either, and furthermore, they just don’t care.
For the scary high prices they now charge for a movie ticket, well over ten dollars, they expect you to watch a film sometimes with the lights on, usually with audience members talking loudly, either to each other or on their cellphones, and texting throughout. And if you say anything to these other audience members they will sometimes go as far as to threaten you. That’s just part of the experience at the Cherry Hill Loews it seems, part of what you’re paying for I guess.
Now when I brought this to the attention of the manager on duty, Kathryn by name (and only first name as employees are not allowed to give their full names, nor are they allowed to give the names of superiors), the theatres are supposed to be checked by an employee once per show. I never saw anyone come in, and if they had, they would have seen all the lit cellphones and also noticed that the audience noise was drowning out the sound of the film.
Now an argument might be made that they were busy that night and might not have had time to check the theatres. Why then did more than a few employees I saw (before the film when it was even busier) have time to chat with friends, throw cups back and forth behind the snack counter, and chase each other into the rest room? Yeah, they were busy all right.
Now Kathryn No-Name was nice enough give us passes to see another film at the wonderful Loews Theatres where we would be treated to probably a similar experience. I would have rather gotten my money back. After all, if I had gotten rat poison instead of Frosted Flakes, do you think the folks at Kelloggs would have given me my money back or another box of rat poison?
Is this what the movie theatre experience is about these days? At least at Loews Cherry Hill it is. There is an alternative. I would like to direct anyone seeking a movie night out to the Showcase at the Ritz in Voorhees. It’s not far from Loews and has just about the same variety of films and even some from off the beaten path. Not only is the viewing experience a pleasure, but the staff is friendly and cooperative. They also have various special events and goodies all the time. They have my full endorsement, and would love your business. And no, I don’t know anyone there, nor do I work for them, they just know about customer service unlike some theatres.
And so began the opening of one of the more innovative series ever to grace Saturday mornings. Created by Sid and Marty Krofft, notorious for Saturday morning kids fare that seemed to be acid-induced like “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Lidsville” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “Land of the Lost” was different.
The series, in the first two seasons at least (we will not speak of the Uncle Jack episodes), featured a solid science fiction premise, which is no wonder with folks like David Gerrold, Larry Niven, Ben Bova, D.C. Fontana, Norman Spinrad, Theodore Sturgeon and Walter Koenig involved in its production.
The premise involved a family on a camping vacation dropped into a place outside of time and space, structured by dimensional portals that controlled every aspect of the world, which was populated by dinosaurs, cave people called Pakuni (the writers even created a 200-word language for them) and hissing lizard-like inhabitants called Sleestak. The world had a very precise internal continuity and logic, and the well-written stories (despite the drinking game that can be had every time someone yells the kids’ names or Dad touches one of them) more than made up for the sometimes less-than-adequate special effects. This was the 1970s after all.
The show is held in high regard by many, including comedian Will Ferrell, who coincidentally played a character named Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly in Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Now, in this 2009 feature film version of “Land of the Lost,” he gets to play the real thing.
Now, I’ve never been a fan of Ferrell’s comedy, either on “Saturday Night Live” or in film (although I did like his semi-serious turns in Winter Passing and Stranger than Fiction), so I was a bit distressed when I heard he would be starring in this obviously comedic take on the classic scifi series. It should also be noted, and not forgotten, he also had a hand in another TV remake for the big screen – the better-off-forgotten Bewitched.
The preview was at the dreaded Cherry Hill AMC Loews, where it was sponsored by at least four media outlets. WXPN (the only terrestrial radio station in town worth listening to any more) gave us the passes but they weren’t there. Glenn Kalina, now doing mornings for 97.5 Now, has looked better, and seemed so thrilled doing the pre-show trivia and giveaways. Maybe a bit more caffeine, Glenn.
Vittoria from the ‘CW Crew’ had considerably more energy, as did the nameless dude from WMMR. And props to him too for telling people to turn their damned cellphones off. I also had issue with one of his trivia questions. He asked what MMR stood for and took the answer ‘Means More Rock’ – but really, isn’t the answer ‘Metro Media Radio’?
The film begins (and ends) with the Matt Lauer bit that we’ve all seen in the previews, and thus starts the pattern of every other typical Will Ferrell slob comedy. All my hopes from seeing interviews from Sid and Marty Krofft that this was “a respectable, serious take” on their property are dashed pretty quickly on. When pee-pee and poo-poo jokes are given more screen time than the actual plot or character development, the truth is pretty much splashed on the wall.
There are a couple funny bits, I’ll admit it. Chaka is a hoot, and a far cry from the innocent ape-child of the TV series. And Leonard Nimoy doing his best George Takei impersonation while voicing the Zarn is hilarious. What hurts most is that this could have been a serious adaptation. The effects are here, and so are all the elements. It’s all here. Fans of the show can see all the trademarks of the show – Pylons, Sleestak, the Library of Skulls, the Pakuni language, Grumpy, Alice, the Altrusian moths, even Holly’s Dopey speech. It’s all here.
Anna Friel, of “Pushing Daisies,” using her real accent for once is fun, as is Danny McBride of HBO’s “Eastbound & Down.” And I really liked the revamping of the Sleestak, nice updated design. This film is similar to “Smallville” when compared to its source material, the old Superboy comic books. Some of the names and situations are the same – but it’s completely different.
This was an okay movie for free, and funny and fun occasionally. Will Ferrell fans will love it, unfortunately I’m not one of them.
Marley & Me ~ This would not have been my choice to see on a movie night but it was The Bride’s choice, so we saw it. I was pleasantly surprised. Based on John Grogan’s book of his newspaper columns that follows his life, with his wife, his family, his career and his dog. I’m a sucker for writer movies so I was sucked right in. For a change Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston, notoriously not my favorite actors turn in believable and entertaining performances, as do the twenty-odd stunt dogs that portray Marley. Very sweet, lots of fun and well worth seeing.
Yep, great movie, if only we didn’t have to see it at the AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24. This was one of the worst theatre experiences I have ever had. Yes, even worse than when I saw Spider-Man 3 in London – of course in that case there was inexcusable behavior both in the seats and on the screen.
We saw Marley & Me this past Friday night, and the movie has been out for several weeks, and the theatre was hardly packed – possibly thirty or so people in a room that could easily hold a hundred or so. We arrived during the previews, and although we did not see the announcements about talking, smoking, cellphones, etc., I’m quite sure they were still shown. They are always shown.
First off, people, mostly unchaperoned kids between ten and twenty, talking non-stop throughout the film. The audience, in front of us at least, was a sea of cellphone lights, as if we were at a Styx concert and Dennis DeYoung was belting out “Babe.” And yes, I know I’m dating myself there, and that in my day we would have used lighters, but I’m sure you get the point. There was more texting and talking going on in this theatre than at the mall food court.
Then there was the matter of the constantly shifting audience. I really think The Bride and I were the only ones in that theatre who paid to see Marley & Me. People, I say people, but again they were unsupervised kids, kept coming and going, sitting and watching a little bit of the film –usually talking or texting the whole time- and then leaving again. Where are the parents? Or is AMC the new babysitter?
After the movie we complained and were given a full refund plus free passes by a rather flustered and timid young manager. We were not alone in our refunds, but the other angry couple was surprisingly from yet another movie. We were told that employees do actually patrol the theatres, but only first runs where the crowds and the problems were more plentiful. Wow. Remind me not to see a first run flick at AMC Loews in Cherry Hill – apparently it could be worse…