In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Monday, May 26, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Boulevard 14 Cinemas

Built in downtown Petaluma in 2005, the Boulevard 14 Cinemas is one of the largest of Cinema West's 12 theaters. Six of those theaters are in the Bay Area, making Cinema West the Bay Area's fourth largest footprint by screen count.

The Boulevard 14 anchors Petaluma's thriving riverside "Theatre District", which includes the Mystic Theatre (1911) and Phoenix Theatre (1924), both now hosting live performances. I'm impressed that the city's two older theaters have survived, especially since a 5-screen and 8-screen multiplex have each come and gone in the past forty years. (The local US Coast Guard Training Center also has its own first-run movie theater, though as near as I can tell, it's for service members only.)

The lobby is spacious and attractively decorated. A sparsely populated arcade is to one side, and the concession stand to the other. I recently discovered that Junior Mints are now vegan (eschewing gelatin). These were once my favorite movie candy, but one I hadn't eaten since looking at the ingredients while watching The Science of Sleep in 2006. The Boulevard 14, like many other theaters, offers its Junior Mints chilled for maximum deliciousness.

Two of the theater's fourteen screens have been added since I first began this blog in 2010. The screens seat between 49 and 252, with a total of roughly 1500 seats (two of the auditoriums do not post maximum occupancies). A patchwork of cloth and stone decorate the auditorium walls. Seats are comfortable, and at a good rake.


Whereas Regal, AMC, and Cinemark employ National CineMedia for their pre-show content, Cinema West and Brenden Theatres use Before the Movie. The idea is the same, but Before the Movie has more local advertisements, and is altogether less obnoxious than NCM's First Look or The 20.

An extended interview highlights a startup producing a bio-degradable styrofoam alternative. A kid catches his parents eating ice-cream at night; they say, "you wouldn't like it; it's got caramel crunchy stuff", to which he replies, "I like caramel crunchy stuff". A little girl is the drought patrol, ensuring her parents and siblings aren't using too much water. Teens speak out against smoking. A little girl talks about what a bad-ass GE engineer her mom is. A man watches desert sand blow from his hand in an ad for the FX series Tyrant.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Trailer 2)

The first trailer reveals that a virus, seen spreading at the end of the previous film, has wiped out much of humanity, and subsequent wars between human factions has resulted in further attrition. Now a group of humans in San Francisco attempts to unite, perhaps in opposition to the intelligent apes who, under the leadership of Caesar, have built a colony in neighboring Marin. The previous movie was sympathetic toward animals used for testing; those animals did little harm except in pursuit of their own freedom. This sequel has the apes retaliating for something, launching an attack on San Francisco. It will be interesting to see if the apes maintain our sympathies.

Edge of Tomorrow (Trailer 2)
I've never cared for Tom Cruise's characters, but he makes some good movies, like Knight and Day (2010) and Minority Report (2002). In response to The New Yorker's investigation of Scientology, I've begun boycotting movies starring prominent members of their organization. Similar to what I stated in the epilogue to my review for Enders Game, I distinguish between discriminating against someone because of their beliefs, and withholding my financial support when I have good reason to believe that the support will contribute to the practices described in that article. Unfortunately, this means I'm missing what look to be great sci-fi movies, Oblivion (2013) and now Edge of Tomorrow (aka D-Day meets Groundhog Day, with perhaps a dash of Independence Day thrown in for good measure). The first trailer was good enough to make me want to watch the movie, so I closed my eyes for this second trailer.

Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer 2)
I've managed to shut my eyes for all but a few frames of these trailers. The audio track spoils a bit, but I'm looking forward to an unspoiled visual experience. I'll be interested to see if this ties in with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. These are the Guardians I read as a kid, and their line-up features at least two heroes who are contemporaries of the Avengers.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

My best friend pointed out what a glorious time we live in, when theaters are simultaneously exhibiting X-Men, Spider-Man, and Captain America movies. My teenaged self never could have imagined such a Shangri-La of entertainment.

This seventh in the X-Men franchise both brings together several disconnected chains in the continuity, and blows them further apart. The film opens roughly ten years from now, where human-created robots called sentinels have wiped out or imprisoned most mutants, mutant sympathizers, and anyone whose theoretical descendants might be mutants. It's bleak. A small band of X-Men comprising faces both familiar and fresh do their best to evade the sentinels, but ultimately they place their hope in the past: they must somehow stop the mutant-hunting robots from ever being created.

Most of the film transpires in 1973, ten years after X-Men: First Class and fifty years prior to this movie's apocalyptic beginning. A future version of Wolverine must convince younger versions of his allies (Professor X, Beast) and enemies (Magneto, Mystique) to work together in defense of mutants and humans alike. As in First Class, the chemistry between young Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender) forms the emotional core of the film. Jennifer Lawrence bridges the sympathetic, conflicted Raven from First Class and the zealous, vicious Mystique of the later X-Men trilogy. There should be enough guest stars, cameos, and references to keep any comic fan happy. I was especially pleased with the depiction of a teenaged speedster named Peter (Evan Peters), who delivers the most entertaining scene of the movie, and whose introduction touches on various meaningful elements of his origins in the comics.

Like in many action movies (including the original X-Men), there are times when the heroic goal is too simplistic. Trying to stop the sentinels' inception just sets up our heroes for a series of repetitive battles, only the last of which the script will allow them to win. And my head is spinning trying to tease out all the continuity agreements and disagreements. Oh, but the action is good. And Bryan Singer, back at the helm, manages to atone for many sins committed in his absence.


  1. I also avoid previews for films I plan to watch. But I've learned over the years that hearing the preview can be just as destructive and seeing it. Actually sometimes its worth because the intrigue suggested by the dialogue is often much better then the actual movie itself.

    Producers should start hiring Trailer Makers to write the actual scripts.

    So I also pres my fingers against my eyes which doesn't really work because you can still hear most of it. So I go the nuclear option and vibrate my ear openings so I hear a bunch of noise. I look like a totally idiot, but I care exactly 0.000% what other people think of me. And it is worth it. If the trailer is long it does get annoying and you might ask why I don't just leave the theater, but the truth is I can't time how many trailers there will be and don't want to miss the beginning. I walked out to miss a trailer during Ender's Game and missed a good portion of the 12 second prehistory of the first war.

    If you haven't seen X-Men Days of Future Past yet then your life is unfulfilled and you need to watch it tonight. If you have seen it, you also need to watch it tonight because it is awesome.

  2. "its worth" should be "it's worse". I was trying to remember how to log in to comment and forget to proofread.

  3. I think the previews help me avoid some real stinkers. As you say, they set up higher expectations than the movie themselves deliver.

    And for theater buffs - I found this nice site for checking local theater showtimes, with links to more info about the movies (and trailers)