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So I've sold out to this multiplex chain but I don't care...
Member Name: Renza_e
Date: 06/02/11, updated on 06/02/11 (457 review reads)
Advantages: Unlimited card, great legroom, good choice of mainstream films
Disadvantages: Cinema food, some films unavailable, lacking personality, prebooking facilities for Unlimited cards
Edinburgh's Cineworld is a multiplex cinema located in a large complex at Fountainbridge, a venue as lacking in personality as the chain restaurants, bars and bingo hall that surrounds it. It's all very cold and commercial, aimed largely at drawing in the masses to big cinematic releases.
As you've probably guessed it's not my favourite cinema in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is lucky as it has a nice variety of venues to watch your films in and there are at least two which are better than Cineworld. There is the classy Filmhouse, which largely shows art house films and the cosy Cameo which shows a comfortable mix of mainstream, foreign and art house releases. I can say that nothing really beats sinking into the amazing Cameo seats and watching a film in a cinema which you could imagine your granny going to when she was a little girl. It is typically retro, decked out like an old theatre with busts and columns and has a nice little bar where you can get icecream and drinks.
However, I cannot afford to pay single admission fees to see films on a regular basis, particularly at £7.00 per adult ticket and the Cameo and the Filmhouse don't show a lot of mainstream releases that I would like to see. Instead I have ended up traipsing somewhere over a mile to go to my 'local' Cineworld (This is a 40 minute walk as I am too cheap for Edinburgh buses and like to justify the 2 hours or so plonked on my bum by exercising my legs). So why would I travel a whole 40 minutes to see a film when I've got a Vue cinema just 10 minutes up the road? Why would I go to another soul-less location when I could opt for the beauty that is the Cameo?
*~UNLIMITED ACCESS (almost)~*
The reason I go to Cineworld is because of the Unlimited card. It costs £13.50 a month. This probably seems like quite a lot to pay for the cinema and you are contracted to pay this for a year. You really need to make sure you have a steady income and are willing to commit yourself to the deal. On the other hand, if you are a big film fan like me then what you pay is well worth it. Even a student ticket at Cineworld seemed steep to me (£5.10) but now I am a graduate I'd be paying £7.90 per film! So just by seeing 2 films a month you're saving money. I must admit that if you were only to pay to see one film, Cineworld has some of the highest prices amongst the cinema chains out there so if you only go to the cinema occasionally I'd recommend the Odeon, Vue or elsewhere. Before I got my Unlimited Card I sometimes got dragged to Cineworld because my friends had the card, which I resented slightly because I could to see the same film for less elsewhere. However, just see what peer pressure does! My friends really wanted me to be able to go to the cinema with them more often and they convinced me quite easily that an Unlimited Card was the way to go.
The cinema for me is an immensely enjoyable experience. I have always been a huge fan of film but before I got my Unlimited card had to be highly selective about what I spent my money on. I didn't want to see a stinker after paying £5.10. However, now I can see whatever I want to see which is lovely, although I won't see anything I am sure will be crap (Films like Epic Movie and Vampires Suck were avoided). Nevertheless, the card has meant that I've seen gems of films that I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise - films like 500 Days of Summer, Morning Glory and A Single Man.
The card has also made nights out with my friends more affordable as it encourages us to use the cinema. We don't spend too much time wasting our money in bars. In fact, the most we'll have to spend outside the £13.50 is £1.50 for 3D films (80p extra for 3D glasses) and any drinks/sweets we decide to sneak in. For a while the extra cost for 3D films really bothered me. I mean how can you be allowed to see as many films as you want and then spend £1.50 on 3D?! I could quite easily see 18 or more films that are at the Fountainpark cinema right now in the space of a couple of weeks and only have to pay my £13.50. In fact there have been weeks where we've ended up seeing double features (this works really well if you time it perfectly) although I've drawn the line at triple features (there's only so much time you can spend in front of a big screen). So in that way the extra cost doesn't seem to make sense but I suppose they have to do that because 3D cinema is expensive. However, I think any adult who spends £10.80 for a 3D film with glasses at that cinema is a bit of a dupe. I don't even earn that much in an hour of my current job!
Anyhow, I'm just glad I don't have to spend ridiculous amounts like this. With my Unlimited Card the cinema has become a thoroughly enjoyable experience - not a perfect one but enjoyable all the same...
*~ALL SMILES AND HELLOS~*
So you've got your Unlimited Card or cash and you get to the queue at the front desk. The one thing I like about the Fountainpark cinema is that the staff are all really friendly. It seems like most of them are students and for some reason I find that student employees are often the friendliest (maybe I am wrong but that's just what experience tells me). They are smiley and say hello and are pretty courteous. For example, the other night I went in with a plastic bag which had my work uniform in it. They said I couldn't go in with it. This was a bit of an inconvenience I'll admit and a bit humorous as my handbag was the onee thing they probably would have wanted to confiscate considering it had a bottle of Irn Bru and 2 bags of sweets in it). So I gave it over to them to put in their back room and was given a ticket. Now because we were doing a late double feature we didn't come out of our showing until the back of one. When I got out I couldn't find anyone to get my bag so I went back into the screening room. In the screening I found myself a lovely young chap who very kindly offered to get my bag for me, with no grumbles. I thought it was very nice of him considering he had a whole cinema to de-litter. It seems like most of the cinema staff there are as courteous as he is.
The cinema itself is a positive experience. They have a good amount of legroom especially if you sit yourself in first row of the second section where the barrier is (you can also put your feet up). The seats are comfortable enough. I think it would be nice if you had the option to have more comfortable seats. This is an advantage of the Vue - you have the option to sit in VIP seats. I've done this once and it was pleasant enough if a little overrated. You also don't have any under 18s in the auditorium to bother you if you opt for Gold Class. I guess this is something that could bother you on cinema outings. I suppose I'm just lucky but I've hardly ever had any real issue with children at the cinema (theatres seem to be worse offenders). We often go to the cinema later on at night or during school hours so this probably helps.
So even without VIP seats or other privileges, I would say that my cinema experience tends to be a pleasant one, unmarred by cramped legs and obnoxious young ones.
*~CAN THEY DO NO WRONG?~*
As much as I enjoy Cineworld, it is not without its faults. For a start, it tends to ignore more obscure and/or independent films. If they believe that a film is not big enough and therefore not commercially viable then they sometimes have the tendency not to show it. This happened when 'Easy Virtue' came out. I ended up going to the Filmhouse to see it and I'm glad I did. It was a charmer of a film starring Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes and the delightful Colin Firth. It would be nice if Cineworld could acknowledge films like this a little more.
Another annoyance is that if you do decide to buy the food it is vile and overpriced. I have never been one for popcorn so I couldn't tell you how good it is. However, I have tried the hotdogs and nachos and was far from pleased. The hotdog just tastes cheap. The nachos taste both cheap and nasty. The cheese sauce tastes like feet and the nachos themselves are like cheap Doritos. Now nachos are not a difficult thing to do well so I struggle to understand how they can allow them to be that AWFUL. I would love to speak to Mr or Mrs Cineworld themselves and ask why they think it's ok for something to taste so bad and expect profitable sales. Sometimes I am in the mood for overpriced cinema food - but I draw the line at buying overpriced crap!
The last gripe I have with the cinema is that Unlimited customers cannot prebook. I really believe we should be allowed to do this. If we did this then it'd just mean that our tickets were a different colour or something and we could show our card quickly to prove we had Unlimited Cards. If the staff did their job then no one would be able to abuse this system.
*~ENHANCING MY CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE?~*
What Cineworld have done is that they've taken a film lover and turned them into a film fanatic. We have no TV license and consequently have no television programmes broadcast into our flat and so Cineworld provides my flatmates and I with a collective viewing experience that goes beyond DVDs and BBC Iplayer. This is great as I love film. I have a subscription to Empire magazine (courtesy of Clubcard Rewards - thank you Tesco), I have both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB bookmarked on Firefox and I'm always on the look out for new films. I can therefore say that £13.50 a month is, to me, a bargain for what is essentially a well-used pleasant if slightly soulless cinematic experience.
*~Thank you for reading my review :-) x~*
*~Also published on Ciao under username Renza - February 2011~*
Summary: A bargain for what is essentially a well-used pleasant if slightly soulless cinematic experience.