No wonder King George stuttered!

This morning I read a piece in the Journal about how videogames are changing the economy.

Even the entertainment and media businesses will be transformed.

That is certainly true. I see it in the way things are advertised, and even in the way people drive. Some younger drivers seem to think they're in a game which consists of zipping in and out of the smallest spaces possible as quickly as possible between other cars -- prompting me to exclaim "There goes another video game driver!" Whether this is "good" is not up to me.

However, I found myself annoyed by a byproduct of hyperactive media yesterday. I went to see The King's Speech at a local Multiplex theater and while it was a great film I can recommend wholeheartedly, I do not recommend seeing it if the adjoining theater is showing Tron: Legacy, as this one was. Before I get too carried away, let it be noted for the record that I have nothing against Tron or its legacy -- although I learned that it seems to be about video games:

Sam Flynn (Hedlund), a rebellious 27-year-old, is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father Kevin Flynn (Bridges), a man once known as the world's leading video-game developer. When Sam investigates a strange signal sent from the old Flynn's Arcade -- a signal that could only come from his father-- he finds himself pulled into a digital world where Kevin has been trapped for 20 years. With the help of the fearless warrior Quorra (Wilde), father and son embark on a life-or-death journey across a cyber universe -- a universe created by Kevin himself that has become far more advanced with vehicles, weapons, landscapes and a ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to prevent their escape.

All fine and good, especially if it's good for the economy. But what did not strike me as good was to have my movie nearly ruined by constant, impossible-to-ignore rumblings, vibrations, and literally shakings of the walls emanating from the Tron film. (It introduced a whole new wrinkle to the king's stuttering problem, as I couldn't stop thinking that maybe he was hearing what I heard -- and feeling inhibited by it!) 

I don't know whether they're still using Sensurround or whether they have a modified form of it, but trust me, it is very distracting to be watching a quiet drama about a man struggling to overcome a speech impediment and have that interrupted by recurrent, weirdly unsettling noise.

Sure, I could have asked for my money back and left. But I had driven to the theater in the cold and I didn't feel like having to get in an argument with teenie boppers who are only paid by the hour and don't care (much less demanding to speak to a manager on a Sunday), all because acoustics engineers are apparently either unwilling or incapable of preventing this dramatic leakage of unwanted sound.

I have no idea whether I am a lone crank or whether other movie goers are having similar problems. But writing a blog post strikes me as preferable to surrendering to a silent grudge.

Or worse, succumbing to neo-Luddite thinking!

Hell, if Tron's legacy rattled my cage and shook my building while I was trying to make a speech, I might stutter too!

posted by Eric on 01.03.11 at 01:42 PM










Comments

I had exactly the same problem yesterday, but I was the one watching "Tron: Legacy." It seems that an even more violent and loud movie was playing in the adjacent theater. At first I was just confused and thought it might be background noise from the movie I was watching, but it soon became clear that this wasn't the case, and it got very distracting. It was an unreasonable amount of bleed-through in my opinion. I agree, it's rather unjust to pay to see one movie and be forced to listen to another.

T. Murr   ·  January 3, 2011 2:42 PM

No, you are not alone: some theaters don't seem to grasp that constructing their auditoriums with cotton-stuffed cardboard walls is not exactly the best way to dampen sound. (Even worse, a theater in the wilds of NH is basically constructed out of sheet metal, which always adds the wonderful ambiance of rain pitter-pattering if you happen to attend during a shower.)

ECM   ·  January 3, 2011 5:45 PM

Having seen Tron:Legacy (and thoroughly enjoying it) I can confirm that the soundtrack is very bass-heavy.

A competent multiplex theatre owner/operator would have screened all the incoming films and set quiet character pieces like The King's Speech far away from bombastic films like Tron.

Now that it's all over, do yourself a favor and see Tron:Legacy in IMAX 3D (if you can in your area).

Captain Ned   ·  January 3, 2011 6:07 PM

You are completely correct. Just forgo the theatre experience. Get the DVD or Blu-Ray. Yes, you'll be out of touch with the office bozos discussing the latest american stupid fad at the water cooler, but hey - you'll have your sanity, and a lot of extra cash - cause you didn't spend anything on most of the movies you might have wasted a night at the theatre on.

Bill Johnson   ·  January 3, 2011 7:56 PM

Silencing heavy bass is very difficult. One technique is to fill hollow walls with sand. You would also need to isolate the floors from each other. An expensive proposition.

M. Simon   ·  January 4, 2011 1:11 AM

Eric, you're just getting old. Next thing you know, you'll be yelling "you kids get off my lawn!" or complaining how much modern music sucks. Which it does... :)

Casey   ·  January 4, 2011 1:59 AM

From the other side of the wall, Tron was the first film I've seen in a theater in ages, and I was pleasantly surprised that they had the audio set up properly.

brian   ·  January 4, 2011 10:59 AM

"Kind" George? As opposed to Curious George?

art.the.nerd   ·  January 4, 2011 11:59 AM

Thanks for the kind correction! In my haste, I never actually read the title of this post.

Eric Scheie   ·  January 4, 2011 12:24 PM

TRON is about video games in the same way that Animal Farm is about running a farm.

Seriously. It's about the Godhead, Ascension and the essence of the soul. (Or as close as you can get in what is ultimately a kid's movie.)

Phelps   ·  January 4, 2011 7:05 PM

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