I paid $23 to see The Legend of Tarzan… for… ummm science?
I’m a huge fan of the art of storytelling and storytelling doesn’t get much better than the cinema experience. My profession means i’m constantly connected, always within reach, and no matter the hour and compelled to respond when I see that blinking light. Movies are my escape, for a moment in time they force me to unplug and allow me to experience a story other then my own.
I love movies. Most Thursday nights you can find me at the theater taking in the next big blockbuster or discovering one of the lesser known gems. Some years ago Cineplex (them main theater chain here in Canada) premiered the D-Box motion seating in some of their larger centers. The system allows an artists to script motion that is timed to the movie allowing you to not only see, but feel the action. Our local Cineplex got D-Box motion seats a few weeks ago and I was itching to try the experience. They promise a lot, but how does it hold up?
The Legend of Tarzan
Lets take a brief detour to talk about the actual film, The Legend of Tarzan. I don’t typically review the films I watch in greater detail then a single tweet as I hate spoilers and hundreds of people pour their hearts into creating something for us to enjoy. The Legend of Tarzan has its flaws but as a whole is a wonderful movie. Taking the path less traveled, at the beginning on the film John Clayton III (Tarzan) and his beautiful wife Jane are in England. John has claimed his fathers linage as Lord Greystoke and has started to build a new life with Jane far from the jungle that raised him. Eventually John’s duty to his country as Lord Greystoke pulls him back to the world he once escaped.
The cast is fantastic and story underneath is a great foundation. Throughout the movie I found myself wishing there was a little less action and more character driven drama. Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan and Margot Robbie as Jane are well paired and certainly create some on screen magic. With Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz supporting most of the compelling scenes are found outside the action. Some of the action scenes, particularly Tarzan’s vine work and some of the jungle scenes feel unnatural. This seems like a budgetary issues as with a little more work on the lighting and rotoscoping would have went along way. Director David Yates and Warner Brothers have created magic together in the past with him at the helm of Harry Potter movies and the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so we know they are capable of more. If you enjoy compelling stories, its worth checking out.
Cineplex & D-Box Motion Seats
Did it enhance the movie experience? Yes. Did it distract from the movie experience? Yes. Was it worth the money? I’m squarely on the fence about that. The first thing you will notice about D-Box is it’s insane price. D-Box seating I’ve encountered is always located inside Cineplex’s UltraAVX theaters. If you haven’t seen a movie in UltraAVX, I highly recommend it. Upgraded projection, Dolby Atmos surround sound, reserved seating and upgraded semi reclining seats are well worth the upgraded price. Although prices vary by region the price in Red Deer, Alberta breaks down like this:
- Standard Adult Ticket $12
- Ultra AVX Premium $3
- Ultra AVX 3D Premium $2
- D-Box Premium $6
For a whopping total of $23 Freaking Dollars. That is a hefty fee, one where if you intend to bring your significant other you may want to consider a second mortgage. In fairness, you can lob $5 of that price on Tuesday nights, but that still places D-Box in an extreme luxury category for me. Is it worth the cost of two movies? Let’s break it down.
The D-Box Experience
When you walk into the theater you will defiantly notice the big red seats protruding like an island in the sea of Cineplex blue, allowing you to proudly proclaim your fanciness. D-Box seats are typically located in the primary viewing zone, where your eyes are dead center of the screen. Premiums price, premium placement. Hopping onto your D-Box seat you will notice a few more differences.
The D-Box Seats
The seat is not nearly a comfortable as the Cineplex’s other Ultra AVX seats, its quite ridged, and understandably because of the motion – doesn’t recline. On your left you will find a standard cup holder and to your right is a set of D-Box controls allowing you to set your own level of intensity. At 5′ 9″ I did notice a two things about the seat that I feel affected my viewing experience beyond the seats motion. First, the back of the seat is shorter then the other UltraAVX seats meaning I couldn’t lay my head back against the seat as I typically would when viewing. Second, the underlying motion control system means that the seat sits slightly higher then a typical seat. Not much higher, but enough that I started to feel numbness in my lower leg because of reduced circulation.
The D-Box Motion
D-Box is definitely an experience. The technology works pretty well and I do feel like enhances the cinematic experience. There’s magic when the D-Box Motion Code syncs up with some of the epic flyover shots in the film. The very subtle pitch and roll make you feel like you are looking from the cameras perspective, and that’s pretty cool experience. Some very subtle tweaks to the motion could go along way to enhancing the experience. The seats seem to stop at their home and some animation style easing where it goes sightly past home and back would feel more natural. Where it lost me was the more action filled sequences.
The motion an technology itself was great but I found the motion artists stylistic choices didn’t match my expectations. For example, there is a scene where your looking down the barrel of a chain gun as it’s fired and you feel the gosling of the gun as if you were firing it yourself. When the camera cuts, so does the motion. Now your being fired at and the seat is stark and still. This choice of motion and non-motion took me out of the experience more then the motion itself. Although there were some defiant miscues in the motions timing, the overall D-Box motion experience was a positive one.
The Environmental Factors
Environmental factors are one of the primary things that can ruin a theater going experience, and I feel that there are a few worth mentioning here. I have to give it to D-Box, their chairs are relatively silent and the motion of other chairs doesn’t distract from the movie, but their insanely bright control LED’s in my peripheral vision do. It’s almost like there was someone texting beside me the whole movie. Diming the panel when its not in use would go a long way to improving the user experience.
The Cineplex theater in Red Deer was not built or designed my Cineplex. They purchased it well into is constriction and their UltraAVX screen was retrofitted years later. The AVX space is great but since it was not designed for the screen that means that viewing sweet spot I mentioned is two rows from the top, and is not the optimal place for audio. Unfortunately, there is a noticeable reduction in the sound quality where the D-Box seats are place.
I love Cineplex, but I really do have to give them a hand slap here for cleanliness. At the Red Deer theater we’re often forced to stand in a third lineup while staff clean a theater. This was one of those days, and although staff went through and grabbed the drink cups and popcorn bags… There was a stack of garbage beside my D-Box seat including poutine cups, hot dog wrappers, cardboard trays and candy wrappers. I understand some patrons lack respect, I always remove my garbage and often pick up others on the way out. I understand that you cant possibly sweep and mop between every show. That said, when you make me wait and throw out a $23 price tag, it shouldn’t feel like i’m sitting inside a garbage can.
Are D-Box motion seats worth the price tag? The jury is still out on that one as I feel like a single film is not enough data to truly know. I feel a movie like Fast & Furious might be better suited to the D-Box experience, so I will defiantly try it again in the future.
Have you tried D-Box yet? What did you think?