16 November 2008

"Sic Transit Gloria Continental!"

That's what Jon said early this morning as he, Donna, and I exited the newly-redesigned Giant Screen Auditorium at Denver's Continental Theater.

We three were very disappointed. Not only was the movie, Quantum of Solace, pretty lackluster, but they finally did it: they wrecked the Continental.

This was Denver's last remaining big movie palace from the 1960s. It has been going strong, and was always a lovely place to see a movie. A big barn of a theater, the formerly 999-seat auditorium featured a large, curved screen. Sitting within the first ten rows or so, obsessive viewers such as ourselves could feel that we were really "in the movie."

Another lovely thing about the Continental of old was its seats. With gentle pressure on the seat back, the seat itself would slide forward and the back recline at a perfect, restful, angle. And there was always tons of legroom.

The only thing left is the legroom, which is still ample.

But the new seats are horrors: one-piece uncomfortable buckets whose only movement is to rock. The back and the seat are one, curving piece. So if your body doesn't like the configuration of the angle, too damn bad. You are stuck with it.

What a shame.

It was somebody's (very bad) idea to turn this lovely auditorium into a kind of gargantuan joke version of the modern "stadium seating" theater. A fine concept, maybe. Maybe in somebody's mind. But they succeeded in creating an unlovely, uncomfortable hybrid. These seats and this seating arrangement do not work in this theater, with this screen!

The lines of sight, nicely balanced in the original design, now suck. Yes, they suck.

For those of us who like to sit close to the screen, that screen is now too high above us for a pleasant view. And for those who like to sit further back?. . .

Let me tell you. You knew that I would. After the film, as Jon, Donna and I wandered disconsolately around our now-vanished cinematic Eden, I went and tried out the very first row of the stadium seating section of the theater. You'd think that from here, dead center, the view would be pretty good.

It is not. The screen looks anything but "giant" from that vantage point. It looks small and paltry and oddly stretched. They didn't account for the fact that this is a curved screen! From those "ideal" seats, you are looking at a stretched, twisted ribbon of a screen, thin in the middle, larger at the ends. It looks terrible!

I can only think that from further up it must look even worse.

Grrrrrrrrr. . .

To cap it all off, you now pay $11.00 for the privilege of viewing a film in this big mistake of an auditorium.

I've had so many happy and exciting experiences in this big theater. It has always been my favorite in Denver.

It is so sad to see it suffer this fate.

So, to repeat Jon's words:

Sic Transit Gloria Continental.

No comments:

Post a Comment