Thor: The Dark World. (Spoiler Free Review)

Apologies for the short digresion from development technology but …

.. with the luck of the devil I managed to snag a plus one for my daughter Daisy and I to a private screening of "Thor:The Dark Army" at the Cineworld/IMAX in Birmingham last night.  After being treated to a red carpet and champagne reception we duly sat down in the elevated comfort of screen 8 and, a pleasant change, we were straight into the film with no previews or ads.  One thing I would say is that the film has quite a few potential spoilers so be careful what you read before going out to the film yourself, Oh, and be sure not to leave during the closing credits! (The closing credits are some of the most incredible 3D cartoon graphics that I have seen, so you are not going to want to leave without seeing them all!)

First the cast, a well chosen ensemble, reprising their roles from the first film with Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and (of course) Anthony Hopkins providing the gravitas that allows you to absolutely believe in the Norse / Viking-esk world of the film (notwithstanding that much action takes place in London!).  For this film the primary bad guy isn’t Loki (yes, he is bad) but the leader of an elf army, played menacingly well by Christopher Ecclestone.

What made the film that little bit more enjoyable for me was the odd interjection of humour.  Loki’s humour was delivered with deadpan confidence that had the audience laughing out loud in several places.  But Thor also gets a look in – again, deadpan and raising a good few laughs that provide a welcome, if short relief to the tension and action of the film itself.

Now perhaps it was just me but I felt that there was definitely a nod to some sci-fi classics in this film.  First the elf army – reminded me of an enemy of the Dr himself:the Pertwee-era “Autons” (though, looking at them now, perhaps that is a stretch).  Did did I also detect some Star Wars like sound effects?  (An echo of a tie fighter engines mixed in with a smattering of the Phantom Menace racing pods perhaps?) Not to diminish the sound and visual effects of the film – which were Epic (3D was awesome too – effective, without being too ‘in your face’)

So no spoilers but how well does this trailer reflect the film itself?  Well it does manage to purvey the mood and excitement of the film without giving too much away, but the film itself is EPIC in 3D! So, don’t be mean to yourself, go out and find the biggest 3D screen cinema you can  – you are not going to be disappointed!

Cineworld / The Screening Rooms Cheltenham

 

Our daughters were keen to do some XMAS shopping in Cheltenham (while my wife and I were not).  No problem (or so I thought) – and I suggested to my wife that we use our vouchers to go and see a film at The Screening rooms in Cheltenham. 

After duly looking up the times and coordinating the visit with our kids (and their friends parents) I set abut booking for the 11:50am showing of ‘Jack Reacher’ . 
I entered the voucher codes that we had received from ‘Living Social’ and selected the booking:

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but no matter what I did this screen resolutely refused to allow me to complete the booking, (although I suspect I had already committed the two ‘Living Social’ voucher codes and would not be able to reuse them).

Was this a browser issue?  (I am using the latest version 10 of IE).  I decided to go through the same process using Google Chrome – only to get exactly the same issue.

I then tried ringing the booking line shown but this appeared to be completely automated (and was costing me 10p per minute?) so I hung up.

I continued to try various changes to the booking details until I eventually received the following error message:

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This at least gave me another option and I duly tried to ring the number given only to be greeted by a message telling me that the service was unavailable today due to maintenance (?) and that instead I should try and ring the boking line.  This was the same number that I previously tried but I duly tried again thinking that perhaps there might be an option at some stage in the process to talk to a real person (there was not).

Left a little angry and frustrated I took the unusual step for me to blog my discontent.  At this stage we are now committed to taking our kids to Cheltenham tomorrow but with no idea whether our booking has been registered (though i strongly suspect that while our vouchers have been ‘used’ our boking has NOT been made).

I have used this service many times in the past to book with Cineworld with no issues .

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My time is important to me so If you work for Cineword and have any idea what might have gone wrong here I would like to hear from you …

So why have i posted this online?  Well I didn’t appear to have any satisfactory means of complaining directly to CineWorld or the Screening Rooms themselves and this experience tipped the balance (I am normally a very relaxed person who under other circumstances might have just shrugged this off).  My hope is that this post might spur CineWorld into fixing the issue (and maybe apologising to my wife and I for the frustration and our lost time.)


UPDATE next day)

I tried the number in the error message again and after a few minutes on hold got through to a real person.  I explained the problem and after some initial confusion where I was told that the Living Social vouchers had expired (they hadn’t) I was told that in order to enjoy the performance i would need to rebook using my credit card which would subsequently be refunded.

When I went into the web site I found that the booking I wanted was no longer available (it is now 10:05 am so it seems a little premature to remove a booking for 11:50am?)

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Tried phoning back the complaints line but it seems to be constantly engaged.

Decided to try the phone booking line but after going through the entire automated procedure I was told that the performance was booked out.  I explained the situation but the girl i spoke to was unable to offer any resolution except to suggest I book for another day or cinema (all performances being booked out)

Tried the complaints line again ….. on hold then eventually asked to leave a message and would get a call back ….. meanwhile tried to book another performance for Saturday evening but was met with the same issue.

What an ordeal.

Later …

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Update: Saturday (rebooking)

We got our baby sitter re-booked and got to the Screening Rooms in Cheltenham in plenty of time but after handing over our pre-printed tickets were told that the seats we had booked had been given to someone else.  The chap on the desk was very apologetic and said that he hoped he could find us some alternative seating. Apparently this was as a result of the booking being cancelled (I wasn’t really given a satisfactory explanation as to why this had happened and didn’t want to pursue the opportunity we were given to speak to the manger after the event as we were keen to get back to our kids). We ended up in the row in front of the one we had booked but  in the far right of the theatre.  We were offered complimentary food which we declined as we had already eaten – although we did take a couple of free drinks.

The film was great, I will leave it up to you what we thought of the overall experience.

(With apologies to anyone who is a regular reader of this blog)