Lost Journal: Epic Film — Going in the 3rd Dimension

Journal entry: January 24, 2010 (age 40) – Epic Film

I think I’ve forgotten how to go to the movies.

Due to the joys of Netflix, and the sorrows of dealing with the talking, texting, plastic-wrapper-crinkling public, my wife, Amanda, and I rarely go out to the movies anymore. To lure us, the big screen has to offer something that can’t be comparably enjoyed at home. James Cameron’s epic film Avatar, with its revolutionary new 3-D effects, fits the bill.

To celebrate her mom’s birthday, Amanda traveled to McLean, Va., on Friday to spend a “girlie weekend.” She called to say, “I hope you won’t be mad at me, but I’m going to see Avatar with my folks.” I gave a lonesome sigh and mumbled, “Okay…” Meanwhile, I had already made plans to see it with my nephew, Mike Mollen.

After he blew me off on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon, I made Mike a final offer. “Either you skip the last 10 minutes of the NFL playoffs to join your favorite uncle at the 10 o’clock show, or I’m writing you out of the will.” Realizing that such a decision would deprive him of an inheritance in the TENS of dollars, Mike caved.

At the multiplex, we walked into a theater and grabbed second-row stadium seats—with the bar in front to use as a footrest. I whispered to Mike that it was odd for the previews to begin before the movie’s advertised start time. I figured that the three-hour length of Avatar had prompted the management to have mercy on their audience and actually start on time.

As the feature presentation began, Mike and I put on the chunky 3-D glasses that came with our tickets. In the opening credits, I noticed the words “WingNut Films.” Being a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings, I recognized this as Peter Jackson’s production company. I was surprised that James Cameron, a renowned control freak, had turned to another major filmmaker for help. As the opening scene began, I thought to myself, “Is a penguin in a snow globe the best way to start off an effects extravaganza?” Then Mike leaned over and whispered, “I didn’t know Mark Wahlberg was in this movie.”

By the time the splash screen reading The Lovely Bones faded, Mike and I were hustling to the exit to find the theater for the movie we were supposed to be watching. Thanks to the familiar 15 minutes of previews, we hadn’t missed much of Avatar.

Afterward, I asked Mike whether he had led me into the wrong theater, or if I had led him. “Oh, I was definitely following you,” he replied, laughing. I had no idea what had made me walk into a random theater without checking the big number that matched the one on my ticket, or the marquee over the entrance with the name of the movie on it. (“Hey, here’s a door—and they gotta screen in there! Me like space movies.”)

As we reviewed our tracks, Mike and I started laughing, particularly at one image. Our neighbors in the first theater had watched as the two of us simultaneously put on 3-D glasses to watch… a subtle, domestic drama. “Pssst—I hear Susan Sarandon looks even hotter this way.”

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