Cinema Shows Week 6: Bolt, 7th February 2009, Cinema De Lux, Leicester

  • Number of 3D films watched in the cinema in 2009 – 2
  • Ticket Outlay on 3D films – £15.20 

It didn’t work out for seeing  the British co-production The Secret of Moonacre this week. Let’s call it a near miss. Instead, my first ‘first night rush’ (seeing a film on the day of its release) of the year was plan B –   Bolt. It all came down to timing (post-dinner), and, as the night of the screening approached,  a growing sense of awkwardness shared with Robert, my fellow fortysomething companion for the show. I suspect that we imagined in a cinema full of adolescent girls, two middle-aged blokes are going to look questionable. So we missed it by 20 minutes and a self-conscious inhibition. A shame, because a literate man such as Robert is the perfect guest to accompany a fantasy fiction dissenter.

The Cinema De Lux Highcross is going to profit from that city centre convenience and impulsion that might be lost to the more out of town multiplex. It certainly seems to be attracting gaggles of young people to this corner of the shopping centre in Leicester. Each ticket comes with a free ride on an escalator to a food court concourse and restaurant/bar. It feels like an adventurous journey to a carvery.

There may have been 20 or 30 people at the screening – mostly adults with kids, but we rattled arround in the spacious auditorium. Do cinemas ever fill up these days? The strategy of making 3D films seems to be to create a premium experience, but one wonders whether people are prepared to pay extra. Are we paying more because the screening is more expensive or because it is special?

bolt_ticket

Unlike My Bloody Valentine 3-D  there is not a great deal of pointing pointy things (gun, pick axe) at the screen to make them jut out in Bolt. Instead the 3D just seems to create both a different sense of depth and a solid closeness that brings the action much closer to your eyes. Take the glasses off and you really notice how suddenly the screen seems much further away. In My Bloody Valentine I thought that the highlight was the shot (!) of the bullet emerging out of the screen, doing a u-turn in the middle of the auditorium, before returning to tear through the actor’s onscreen flesh. In Bolt it was not so much the 3D-ness as the usual (it has been called ‘uncanny’) folding of live action simulation and stylized cartoon. As John Lasseter explains, from the very beginning they have always been pushing the limitations of the computers to achieve cinematographic realism. The animators have to create what in live action you get for free. I was particularly struck by a scene near the end of the film with a paramedic rescue and an ambulance that had all the fluent, live action intensity of an episode of ER, except that you look around and see all these cartoony characters. These films are four years in the making and they always involve asethetic problem solving. In this case they wanted to make ‘pretty painterly’ backgrounds, even if they only really get noticed when you stop a frame. Don’t you think they’ve got too much time on their hands?

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