Rise of the Guardians – and the West End Vue-poo.

The movie\’s great – pity about the cinema.
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\”Rise of the Guardians\” is good solid fantasy, beautifully CGI\’d with a bit of serious thought behind it. Proposed: if kids stop believing in Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and the Sandman, all that\’s left is the Bogeyman – fear and darkness.
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Actually there is a bit of meat on the fantasy bones with a properly muscular Baltic St Nicholas and an outstandingly funny lean and mean Aussie Easter Bunny. The design and the action sequences are wonderful, some sharp dialogue and sight gags keep it rolling.
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There\’s quite a sweet little pop-up \”Rise of the Guardians\” themed playground in Leicester Square gardens – my son flying down the fake-snow slide in an inner tube was the missed photo-op of my year.
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However. When I take my grown-up son (who has Asperger\’s syndrome and is obsessed with animated movies) to see a film at the big West End Vue screen at the not-inconsiderable cost of £18.10 per ticket, here are some things I DON\’T expect to experience.
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A Marie Celeste effect at the cinema – one lone girl standing by the 3D glasses bin, nobody at the door of the auditorium, nobody in the bar. Everybody is downstairs selling popcorn (at £4.75) and bottled water (£2.70). This annoys me: I didn\’t need to pay £37.00, I could have just ducked round the escalators. Admittedly, my painfully honest son wouldn\’t ever have let me do that, but still.
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Oh yes, sorry. Another girl languidly clearing up as quite a few customers, including my son and me, barge through the doors to find a big empty auditorium full of dead fizzy drinks and the usual post-show sprinkling of popcorn. \”The movie doesn\’t start till 5.00,\” she says patronisingly. \”The ticket says 4.30 and it\’s 4.30 now,\” I tell her, giving her double patronage and a garnish of condescension. \”Oh. Well, maybe it does,\” she admits as the lights go down and stuff happens on screen, \”It\’s automatic.\”
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We pick seats and sit down. Of course, first are the adverts.
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No sound. Not even The 1920\’s experience – they used to have an orchestra. OK, I thought, just the ads. Everyone sits there, waiting trustfully for the sound. My son starts to panic. Trailers. No sound. I trot down the escalators and speak to the lone girl by the 3D glasses. She points me to a lad behind the ice cream freezer. He points me back to the girl by the 3D glasses who has The WalkieTalkie and should call the manager. She says she will do this.
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Up two lots of escalators to find my son even more worried. Still no sound. Everybody else waits patiently for sound. Still no sound. My son\’s very upset – he doesn\’t want to miss any of the movie sound or sight, being a completist. I don\’t either, actually.
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Out again, down to the people on the ground floor. \”Still no sound,\” I say. \”We can\’t get hold of her,\” they explain, as if that ended the matter. \”Find the mute button?\” I suggest. Blank looks. I go nuclear on their asses. \”This is my son-with-Asperger\’s birthday treat and if there\’s no sound, I will be wanting my money repaid in full…\” The lads and lasses exchange panicky looks. They aren\’t being deliberately rude or unhelpful. They just have no idea what to do next, no training and no initiative whatsoever.
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One lad asks \”Is the radio switched on?\” The girl with 3D glasses looks worried. Perhaps it isn\’t. She presses another button and tries to contact the Manager again.
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Back up two flights of escalators to the last trailer and… whew… The sound comes on. My son (who tried to follow me and found himself running up the down escalator, scraping his leg in the process) relaxes for his birthday treat. So do I because I don\’t really want to have to try and get my ticket money back from the computer I bought it from.
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Conclusion: if you have shares in Vue Cinemas, sell them. They have forgotten about how you make money. Don\’t go there to watch movies. If that\’s what it\’s like at their flagship West End cinema in the first few days of a highly hyped Christmas movie… Imagine what it\’ll be like at a screen near you?

I stand up at Flushing Sailing Club!

I\’ve just come back from talking to Flushing Sailing Club about my books – mainly the Carey novels. Here\’s a picture of some of the audience, after a few pints.

\"Some

 

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All right – quite a few had already left by the time I remembered to get a picture and they\’d had a good laugh, believe me.

 

 

 

 

Yes, I do it wearing my lovely purple corset. And?

\"I\'m

(This is a picture of me doing my talk. I don\’t think I normally look this hideous. Honest.) It makes sense when you know what my poetry is like – buy \”The Poetry Diet\” to find out.

Actually they were all really friendly and asked some highly expert questions about Elizabethans, the Borders and chocoholism.

I personally blame the fact that I\’ve been writing the latest Sir Robert Carey book (no title yet) and am eating industrial quantities of chocolate and patisserie.