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But with the Logan Theatre still out of commission, the closest alternative within walking distance to my apartment is the Regal City North 14. No problem, mainstream first-runs are fine and dandy—I'll never be too highbrow to watch Kate Beckinsale trudge through another Underworld or check out a trio of angsty teens wield alien-gifted telekinetic powers. I'm just happy to be entertained—using my brain isn't as important to me as it once was.
So understandably, I made it a short-term goal to marvel at Liam Neeson battling blood-thirsty wolves in the barren Alaskan landscape.
But during the recent outing, I had trouble choking down the price I was asked to pay for the theater's new "RPX: Regal Premium Experience." Please understand that I grew up soaking in early-to-mid-90s Adam Sandler and Pauly Shore dreck at the local two-dollar, second-run theater; and following that, I took in the same dreck for free because a friend got a job as a projectionist and would sneak me in. So when the teller told me the matinee screening was $13.50—of which I was unaware until I arrived—I had to understand why.
"What does the 'Regal Premium Experience' entail?" I asked.
"The screen's bigger, the picture quality is better, the sound system is louder, and the seats are leather," she replied. (The hard sell on the leather seats prompted a subtle eye roll from me.)
I looked back at my friends, was given the silent "what-the-fuck-ever," and paid the extra four bucks. We were already there, and I wanted to watch Liam Neeson be important. Damn you, Regal.
From a quick sweep of the empty seats upon entering the recently renovated theater, it was apparent that not many other moviegoers were pumped on the "RPX." We quickly settled in to our spot about four rows up from the walkway that cuts through the center of the theater—maybe it was kind of close to the screen, but if I'm paying $13.50, I want to feel like the wolves are coming after me.
The much-heralded leather seats were stiff and didn't recline. The screen was nice and big, but I'm at the movies, so that seems like it should be a given. And the sound system was skull-rattling LOUD. Like maybe-we-should-move back-20-rows loud. As is common with previews, they were loaded with explosions, thump-thump soundtracks, and dudes screaming bloody murder.
By the time we got through the Wrath of the Titans and Battleship previews—both of which feature Liam Neeson, of course—I felt like my head had been used as a hockey puck. To make matters worse, my friends and I weren't allowed a reasonable volume to make our regularly hilarious and snarky quips during the previews. I was in a bad mood before I had even seen my first death-by-wolf.
The movie did end up saving the day, like I knew it would. Liam Neeson befriended a ragtag gang of vagabonds, sought the meaning of life, and fashioned mini bottles of airline liquors into his own version of brass knuckles. It was all exactly right. Once the "RPX" took some Xanax and toned down the blare, it was bearable. Next time, though, I think I'll use the four extra bucks to pay for a third of my $12 popcorn.