Modern Cinema – Cinetopia 23 and Dolby Atmos

On Saturday, Kristina and I went to Cinetopia 23 in the Westfield Vancouver mall to see Pixar’s latest animated masterpiece Brave. I’ll take about the movie itself later this week, but for now, here are my thoughts about the “modern-day cinema experience.”

Cinetopia 23 – Just Okay

Overall, it was an okay experience. We bought our tickets upstairs only be told we had to go downstairs by taking the mall’s escalator or elevator. After all the construction time, did Cinetopia not think to put escalators or elevators inside their theater complex?

It’s amazing how many extra costs went into the actual ticket price: $10.00 for matinee, $1.50 for 3D, $3.50 for Dolby Atmos.

The lobby was a cross between Quark’s bar in Deep Space Nine and a bland neon-infused room from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. There was an arcade room featuring a Zoltar machine. I wanted to give it a quarter and wish I was big, but I was too busy trying to find my theater.

The theater itself was enormous, yet deceptively small. I liked it, but something didn’t feel right to me. It felt completely fake. Perhaps it was the new car look, I’m not sure, but something was missing in the visual design of the theater. Still cannot put my finger on it, but it lacked flair, style and nostalgia.

Dolby Atmos – So Cool, You Won’t Hear Yourself Think

The critique of Cinetopia 23 leads me to Dolby Atmos, the latest development in the attempted revival of the cinema-going experience. Hot on the heels of 3D comes Dolby Atmos, enhanced surround sound featuring speakers on the ceiling and every mountable surface.

I “love” the fact that there was a five-minute PSA before the movie talking about the benefits and features of Dolby Atmos. Was that a justification for charging an extra $3.50 for the experience?

All in all, I was intrigued by the technology. The sound was completely immersive and when combined with the lush beauty of Pixar’s animation, unbelievably awesome.

However, the sound was so loud, I couldn’t hear the reaction of the people in the theater, even my wife to my left, and the people directly around me.

I love loud sound and music in movies, but the reason I go to the movies is to share the movie with other people.

Why Go To The Movies?

Going to the movies is all about sharing an experience. I love hearing people react to a moment. I love the laughter, the sadness, the gasps, the sobs, it really maximizes a movie for me.

I saw Black Sawn twice in the theater. The first time, the movie’s intense visuals was enhanced by the tension in the audience. The second time, a group of drunk women added a sense of comedy to the visuals. I appreciated both of the audience participations.

I’m glad I was able to witness the evolution of modern-day cinema because it is driving me to less extravagant theaters in order to maintain the shared experience.

3 replies on “Modern Cinema – Cinetopia 23 and Dolby Atmos”

Good to know… Brian and I only go to Cinetopia for the seating. But it seems that their pricing is getting out of hand.

As I understand it the first and second floors are separated because of the liquor sales and service.  The 21 and older section is physically separated on purpose, hence no interior movement from the first to the second floor.

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