Category Archives: rave

The New AMC Marlton 8 Movie Theatre

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.

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The Projectionist

The Projectionist ~ I had the pleasure of attending a showing, an incomplete version apparently, of The Projectionist: A Passion for Film. This is a documentary about local film historian and preservationist Lou DiCrescenzo. While unfinished, it’s rather bittersweet as viewers learn of Lou’s fight with diabetes, and how the disease has beaten him down in recent years. He still keeps on kicking and providing a wonderful asset to the film community in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area.

I’ve gotten to know Lou from afar very slowly as he’s introduced older films at first the Ritz, and then the Rave in Voorhees for a couple years now. They run a program on Monday afternoons called Silver Screen Classics, each week featuring a classic (and sometimes not-so classic) movie from the past. Except when he’s been ill, Lou was right up front with a microphone before each showing giving background and telling the secrets behind that week’s feature. Sometimes we’d even get a short or a cartoon from Lou’s private collection. His knowledge and insight are always a treasure.

I look forward to when this documentary might be finished and can be shown publicly. It’s a great story of a great man. Look for it, if you see it, it’ll be worth it. A couple upcoming shows are listed here. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out Silver Screen Classics on Monday afternoons at the Rave.

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Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger ~ This is the next in the cycle of Marvel Comics movies leading up to The Avengers next summer. This one even has the word ‘Avenger’ in the title. It started with Iron Man, then continued in The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2 and just two months ago with Thor. The Avengers are coming, and it’s gonna be so cool.

Sorry, folks, I got excited. I am an old school Avengers fan, so this slow build-up to seeing one of my favorite comics on the big screen is a big big deal. But that’s not happening until next year, and there’s one movie left before that happens, and it’s the one I saw today – Captain America: The First Avenger. Unlike Iron Man 2 which felt like an overlong ad for the upcoming Avengers, this flick does it subtly, and flawlessly ties up all the loose ends of those four previous movies.

We saw the flick on Friday afternoon (mostly to get out if the 104 degree heat) and while it was sparsely attended at first, the folks at Rave dressed one of their employees up in a makeshift closet floor Cap costume to walk around and entertain. Silly but fun, the kind of thing, in my opinion, theatres should do more often. Well, as long as he didn’t shoot me with his Nerf dart-shooting shield, that is. Good, no casualties, time for the movie.

There were almost forty minutes of previews and pre-show entertainment, which was fine I suppose. We waited about an hour for the next show -and had to get it in 3D because the next 2D flick was even later- and it occurs to me that this might be the next theatre scam. It just seems too much of a coincidence that the only show within a reasonable time frame was the more expensive 3D showing at a place where the feature was showing in two different rooms in 2D and 2D had an almost hour wait in between shows.

Something is just not right. No matter, the Rave is a great theatre with terrific events and friendly staff – and even if not, anything is better than being raped by Loews again.

As it got dark and the real previews started the theatre had filled up, and filled up with more than a few young children. I had had discussions earlier in the week as to whether or not my six year old nephew should see Captain America or not, and the concensus was no. Too much gunplay, violence, the Red Skull was sure to be scary – and do you really want to have the Nazi conversation with a six year old? You know, it’s true, evil is real, and all that. I was worried that maybe these parents had made a mistake, and would regret it.

As it turned out, I shouldn’t have worried. Hitler, the Nazis and the Third Reich are hardly referenced in a really horrific way. It is the Red Skull (still quite scary, and props to Hugo Weaving for bringing his horror to life) and Hydra who are the true villains of the piece. the explanation for the origin and separation of Hydra from the Third Reich makes complete sense. Actually, in hindsight, it even makes the World War II sequences, sans Nazis, in Disney XD’s animated “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” make sense as well. Other than the gunplay, the Red Skull and a few intense moments, the PG-13 rated Captain America isn’t too bad for kids, and not as much to worry about as I originally thought.

This is a period film, as Captain America’s story is one forged in the patriotic fires of World War II. Young Steve Rogers is too puny to serve his country, and volunteers to become a super-soldier draped in the American flag. He takes the fight to the enemy and inspires millions in the process. It’s clichéd, and it’s cheesy, but director Joe Johnston weaves together a wonderful movie that has everything. If I was to wish for the perfect Captain America movie, it could not be better than this.

They do play about with some continuity issues, but nothing that damages the character, but more fills him out. Speaking of filling out, the CGI sequences are phenomenal of title star Chris Evans as a 90 lb. weakling and as America’s super-soldier. He looks great throughout the film, and unlike pretenders like Reb Brown and Matt Salinger, Evans is Captain America. Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter is perfect and Sebastian Stan gives Bucky a wonderful spin, with the re-realized relationship between Bucky and Steve. Trust me, it’s good, and quietly honestly better than seeing Bucky as a costumed sidekick. And Toby Jones is just downright creepy as Arnim Zola, and this isn’t even his really creepy form from the comics. Bravo!

The action sequences are amazing, exciting and what every superhero movie should be. Comics fans of the character and those who know nothing, will be thrilled. This is important for superhero movies – to be accessible to the mainstream audience, to be true to the source material, and to be good. Yeah, this one has all three.

There are Easter eggs all over the place. Tony Stark’s father Howard Stark plays a pivotal role. The Howling Commandos are here, and we’re able to tell who is who without ever hearing their names. Obviously, Nick Fury’s father or grandfather is in there, so as not to muddy the immortal waters. When Steve and Bucky visit the World’s Fair, keep your eyes peeled for the original Human Torch – total nerdgasm for me when I saw that!

This movie has everything – humor, romance, even musical numbers, and yet, it is still one of the best superhero movies I have ever seen, and I’d venture to say I’ve seen most of them. Yes, better than Iron Man. And speaking of Iron Man, like all of the other Marvel movies, you need to wait through the credits for a little something extra. Actually, this time, it’s not a little something – it’s a big something – a sneak peek at next summer’s The Avengers. DO NOT MISS. And definitely see Captain America: The First Avenger, highly recommended.

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French Fry Diary 239: Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Marlton NJ