So the weekend is here, Scott Pilgrim vs The World is (finally!) out and I’m asking my colleague for the cinema timings before he puts it up on the site. This is when he asked me the all-important question, “What cinema do you go to?”
Living in JLT I have 3 options: Ibn Battuta Mall (Grand Cinemas), Mall of the Emirates (Cinestar) and Dubai Mall (Reel Cinemas). Actually I forgot the recently opened Reel Cinemas at Dubai Marina Mall, but I haven’t been there yet so I can’t really say what to make of it.
My primary concern when deciding a cinema is the screen size and the hall ambience. If it’s big and roomy, with an equally big screen, I’m happy. Of course, the sound system in all of the above three cinemas is pretty much spot on, so what it really boils down to is how the movie’s going to look. After all, that is what I’m paying 35 dhs for, the “cinematic experience”. Otherwise I’m more than happy watching Blu-rays on my home theatre setup.
There is one other key thing that I occasionally take into account while deciding the cinema as well: food. Now I’m not a fan of hotdogs or any other kind of hot food in the cinema, my choice of junk food is relegated to nachos. They are crispy, can be sweet and spicy with the salsa and also warm and chunky with the cheese. The jalapenos are equally important, to provide that extra oomph in the end.
Going from personal experience, the nachos at Cinestar are usually fresh, i.e. crispy. The salsa and cheese isn’t what I would call awesome, but it does the job very well. Grand Cinemas is somewhat similar, although their tortilla chips can be a hit & miss affair with some old stock in the stands, leaving me disappointed at times with the lack of crispiness. Reel Cinemas on the other hand has never failed to utterly disappoint me because their cheese looks, tastes and feels like something out of a pre-packed cheap no brand you’d find in some dark corner shelf in Carrefour. The salsa is too mild to be of any significance, and the tortilla chips have a bizarre plasticky taste to them, like they just got pulled out 6 months after being stored in a cold warehouse.
The sad part to all this is that Reel Cinemas in Dubai Mall have the best cinemas in town, bar none. Their digital projectors bring out a truly well-defined film that’s near in quality to any HDTV broadcast. Except for IMAX, I don’t think anything comes close to Blu-rays, but that’s another story. Pretty much all of their cinema halls that are showing the current top movies at any time have big, decent sized screens with ample seating and easy access for the crowds, going from top to bottom. Grand Cinemas at Ibn Battuta are equally big and roomy, but they lack the digital projectors, and I’m probably too much of a Hi-Def snob now to ever go back to non-HD video now. Mall of the Emirates is a similar story, but their disadvantage is that many of their screens don’t feel big compared to Grand and Reel.
So where does that leave me? All the places will be too heavy on traffic, but MoE in particular will be a hard one today as parking places fill up pretty damn quick. Ibn Battuta won’t have any such problems, but that place feels unexciting unless I’m going for an IMAX movie. Dubai Mall then? Good cinemas, comfy seats, bad food. Parking won’t be a problem once I go up to the higher levels either. I’ll probably go down to UNO’s (on the 1st floor) before the movie and have a fulfilling dinner with the missus; sit back, relax and enjoy the film.
Or perhaps I should try the Reel Cinemas at Dubai Marina Mall. Maybe their nachos are better…