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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Seeing the Hunger Games, Panem Style

So, there is this movie that came out recently called 'The Hunger Games'.  I read the books right around the time the movie was announced.  A friend of mine told me that they worth a read and let me borrow her copy.  And like a zombie plague, once I finished reading it I swiftly started infecting all my friends, telling them to read it as well as it was a good book.

As you've seen before on my blog, I am sort of interested in strong, independent female characters who aren't defined by their gender or relationships.  And this series certainly fit that with Katniss.  She is absolutely a great role model for young women everywhere (unlike a certain vampire/were-wolf obsessed cultural phenomenon that is quite possibly the worst role-model for the women of the world).  So I was excited about seeing the book made into a movie, with of course the usual reservation that us book reading types have for movie adaptations.

But went my girlfriend and I did.  But not to just the local theater.  Oh no.  My girlfriend had purchased a Groupon recently for a ticket and dinner at the Muvico Theater down in Thousand Oaks.  I had never heard of the place, but once I saw what it was, I geeked out.  In my opinion, we were basically seeing the Hunger Games in true Panem fashion.  After the jump, I'll describe our experience and my thoughts on why almost every theater in the world needs to refurbish and reopen with the same features as Muvico.

So we arrived at the theater and immediately we were impressed and excited.  Not only is there the usual giant sign showing the name of the theater, but something I had never really seen before.  Instead of the normal marquee that shows the names and times of the movies that were showing, it had a large screen showing trailers for various movies that are coming soon.  The one that showed a lot was for Avengers (another movie I'm starting to get more excited about as it is getting closer).

So, ticket in hand, we had some time to kill.  One of the things I immediately noticed was that there was some large display cases showing figures done by Sideshow Collectibles.  I am a huge fan of their products, and own a couple of their Star Wars figures.  These things were gorgeous and amazing.  There was a 2:1 scale Iron Man, and a full sized T-1000.  Unfortunately, since they were in glass cases and I am apparently horrible at taking pictures with my girlfriends camera, most of the pics I took were unusable or blurry.  Here are the best ones that I took though:

You betrayed Shiva!

Oh, Iron Man...I want to take you home and put you in my living room.

Just your friendly neighborhood Spiderman!

Come with me if you want to see your movie...and live.

Seriously, the pictures don't do any of those statuettes justice.  They were mindblowingly detailed.  Alright, so moving on, we went upstairs to the restaurant.  Now, you do have the option to eat while you view your movie which is itself an awesome option.  However, we chose to eat first before going in, which was a pretty good choice.  I can say that while having pizza, nachos or maybe burgers would work fine, anything like what we had for dinner would have been more complicated since there isn't an actual table, just kind of a wide chair arm you can put stuff on.

We were seated at the theater and, in my opinion, we had some really nice seats.  They were basically in the corner and at the edge of the balcony, so we got to look down into the lobby and also out over the parking lot.

So, with the Groupon we had about $78 we could put towards food.  Delicious, delicious food.  We started with two appetizers, their Spinach Artichoke Dip (I'm seriously a fiend for Spinach Artichoke Dip) and Steak Skewers.  And they were a delicious prelude to the rest of our meal.  The steak was super tender and flavorful and the dip actually had artichokes in it.

Okay, I know the comment about being excited that artichokes are in a spinach artichoke dip, but I feel that a lot of restaurants seem to forget the artichoke part and make it mostly cheese and spinach.  So dipping into it and finding gigantic chunks of artichokes was really fantastic.

We then moved onto our main dish. Again, since we had a free money to spend, we actually both got the most expensive entrees on the menu.  Oh, by the way, in case you are on a budget you can still go and enjoy this.  The most expensive items were about $20 each, and most everything else on the menu was around $10.  And the food you get for that price is definitely well worth it.  So I got the steak dinner and my girlfriend got the salmon.  I'll let the pictures speak for their deliciousness:

Oh yeah...just thinking about it again is making me salivate.  

We still had some money leftover, so it came time for dessert.  The menu had some interesting articles on it, but the one that caught my eye was the Creme Brulee.  I have had it before at a couple of local restaurants and always said it was one of my favorite desserts (next to chocolate mousse or apple pie).  I thought that I liked Creme Brulee.  Then they brought it out and I realized I had never actually had it before.  Not like this...

Amazing.  Blissful.  I am a writer who crafts and hones words to express myself and I ran out of adjectives to describe how good that damn thing was. 

So the time came to go into the theater and see the Hunger Games.  We got our free popcorn and candy (oh yeah, with the VIP tickets we got, you got free popcorn and candy) and headed over to the VIP section.  And, since they serve alcohol, no one under 21 is allowed.  Let me repeat that.  No one under 21 is allowed.  As a couple who are not burdened with children, I can safely say that the biggest annoyance that my girlfriend and I have when we go out is children.  I get that you love them, and it's awesome that you have them.  However, we did not have kids because...well, we don't want to be around them.  And it would be nice to go out to places (especially as an adult outing) and not have to deal with kids.  So it was fantastic knowing that in viewing this movie we would not have to deal with children or teenagers in our general vicinity.

So we entered and saw the chairs...they are huge.  Seriously, our seats were like a love-seat more then anything else.

This was our view over the regular seats.
So we sat in our little balcony and got to view our movie in relative piece.  We got to snuggle up just like it we were at home and enjoy a cinematic adventure in comfort.  Now, the point I made at the beginning comes up here.  If all theaters had this option, I would gladly pay the extra amount for this treatment.  If I had the option to pay extra so that I could avoid children and have giant comfy chairs to lounge in and watch the movie, I would gladly do it.

This whole theater reminded me of the movie palaces of the 20's and 30's.  It showed a celebration and made you feel like going out to the theater is an event.  A special occasion that helps me stomach the high price you are charging me to attend.   If more theaters used this model, I would bet that a lot of them would see a large increase in patronage.  Or at least give us the option to go to showings where only people 21+ can attend...I can dream.

As for the movie itself?  It was amazing.  I would venture to say that it was probably one of the most faithful adaptations I have ever seen.  Extraordinary care and attention to detail went into this movie and it showed.  I'll agree with most reviews I've seen that my biggest complaint was all the shaky cam stuff.  I've never been a big fan of it and it just gets distracting and annoying in my opinion.  But even that wasn't too bad with the well-done writing and acting.

So go see Hunger Games!  Show Hollywood that characters like Katniss Everdeen are the kinds that we want to have as role-models and see in movies more, not like Bella.  If Stephanie Meyer had written the Hunger Games, Katniss would have sat back and waited for Peeta or Gale to come rescue her.  Until next time, may the odds be ever in your favor!

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