Posted on Monday, July 20th, 2009 by Peter Sciretta
It’s a slow news night, so I thought I’d post this report from /Film reader Joshua R about seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in D-Box seats.
For those who don’t know, a few movie theaters have begun installing these motion seats in select theaters. D-Box programs the seats to move in sync with the action during the film presentation. Many people are quickly writing off the seats as a gimmick — something that belongs in a theme park and not a movie theater.
Is it as distracting as it sounds or does it provide a unique viewing experience worth the extra ticket price? Read Josh’s quick review after the jump.
The following report was written by /Film reader Joshua R:
After hearing about the ‘Watchmen: Director’s Cut’ being screened in four theaters in the country, I decided to take a trip to see one of them. I live in Phoenix and my nearest screening was at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood (about a 7 hour drive.) When buying tickets for it, I noticed that the Chinese Theater is also one of the three theaters in the country that has D-Box Motion Code (with the moving seats) and is currently playing “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
This was a rare opportunity which I felt was worth the trip.
The first night was Harry Potter in D-Box. I was surprised to see that the entire theater wasn’t outfitted with the D-Box seats but only two rows (about 30 seats.) The seats allocated for D-Box were the best seats in the house (of course, that is subjective) eye-level with the screen, three fourths back into the auditorium from the front row. Each seat has a self-adjuster on it which allows each theatergoer to set how much they want their own chair to move. Of course, I set mine on 4.
The beginning was very cool with the dementors flying about. The chair would buck left and right as they turned and vibrated when they crashed through walls. As the beginning sequence is filmed in an exciting behind-the-shoulder view of the dementors, this sequence felt more than ever like a ride at Disneyland. As I understand it, this is also the scene in 3-D when it opens wide in IMAX. The beginning was the best part.
The motion is not over used, which is a good thing. Dialogue scenes have no motion in them whatsoever which makes it special when the movement starts (and thrilling when used with a jump scare as in the end with the hand coming out of the lake.) This sparing use of the moving seats, however, became my biggest disappointment as well. In any of the other Harry Potter films, this would have been an absolute blast. This is certainly the least action filled installment however and I found myself waiting through the talky scenes hoping for another action sequence which is not how prefer to watch Harry Potter films.
Ultimately, I felt it was a gimmick. I was trying to place the sensation it gave me and I thought ‘rumble pack!’ It’s the same way I felt when I played ‘Starfox 64′ for the first time. Of course, that technology became standard in video game controllers. With the whole movement towards making going to the movies an ‘entertainment experience,’ I could see this technology taking off. If this film was in IMAX 3-D and D-Box, it would have been pretty amazing. I still think it would be better suited other films, it would have been great for ‘Star Trek’ although ‘Transformers 2′ would have been too much, I would have gotten sick.
At the end of the day I was happy to pay $20 for my ticket although half of that was seeing it digitally projected which looked absolutely gorgeous and will tide me over until I can see it in IMAX. Also, the Chinese Theater is a stunning movie house where all the screens are crystal clear and you could eat off the floors. All in all it was a great experience.