Friday This ‘n’ That – RCC, FF, The Mart of Walls

Just a few notes while I have a brief respite.

Regal Crown Club

I have always aspired to the near mythical Elite status of Regal Crown Club. Supposedly sometime after you reach the 10,000 point mark (a serious milestone given that, in general, a point equals a dollar spent), Regal extends you an invitation to their secret reward club with lots of goodies.

Sadly I have to mourn now as a reader who was in the club said that it was summarily ended last year. /sigh well between two Regal cards (one each for my wife and I since they have caps on points per day) and cards to Carolina Cinemas and Epic Theaters, I was not going to reach 10k points any time soon. Say, those grapes over there look nice.

Fantastic Four

Wal-Mart has a lot of DVDs and Blu-Rays that have various movie moneys on them (Fantastic Four, Man from Uncle, etc.). They also have some $5 DVDs and Blu-Rays that have $8 in concession cash on them. Yes, that’s right, Wal-Mart will actually PAY you to buy their movies. The Blu-Rays that were $5 included Last Stand and Empire State.

I’ve heard from others that they also have $8 Fantastic Four movie money on $5 DVDs. Unfortunately, some Grimm reviews seem to indicate that you will be doomed to a poor experience should you choose to see this movie.

X-Men Apocalypse

I am not of the camp that Marvel can do no wrong (Thor: Dark World, I’m looking at you!) but the first two Fantastic Four films were dreadful and this one does not look better. I sure would love to see these rights revert to Marvel like Daredevil and Punisher. I think it is neat that Marvel reached an agreement to have a Spider-Man cameo in Captain America.

I have really enjoyed the X-Men films (the Wolverine movies less so) though I do wonder what would happen if Marvel had those rights. It certainly seems odd that none of the Marvel Universe movies can use the word mutant.

I am really looking forward to X-Men Apocalypse and Deadpool looks promising. I love that we get all these superhero movies now that would not have been possible when I was growing up (Christopher Reeve on a wire was my experience) but it also seems to choke the big budget movie calendar so we get fewer non-superhero blockbusters.

Epic Cinema Tables at Epic Theatres of course!

On my last movie day, I spent the whole day at my local Epic Theatre. I got a nice jumbo hard plastic Ant-Man cup to add to my already overburgeoning collection and my waistline thanks them for having unsweet tea. I don’t care for water and hate diet cola.

Pirates Table

 

Normally they, like most theaters, have too much lobby space. Normally I like to peruse the neat displays for upcoming movies (my favorite was Regal’s whack-a-mole featuring the Minions for Despicable Me 2), but this time I was really impressed with the new tables they got.

Hunger Games Table

 

The tables and chairs seemed very sturdy and the table easy to clean off. The table was a little lower than I would like but now I think I need one in my movie room.

Toy Story 3

 

They had four styles but I imagine these would be quickly customizable to any movie poster. Now should I get Alien or The Thing or something from classic Hollywood?

Spider-Man

Regal, Regal, Regal, and FREE Movie Tickets

Regal Cinemas

Normally, I’m not fond of big chains but this summer Regal has really won my business. Neither my local Epic nor my beloved Carolina opted to do summer kids movies. Let me tell you the Regal Biltmore Grande is absolutely packed on Tuesday and Wednesday morning for their $1 movie. They have obviously reached out to various groups as children arrive by the busload for the Regal Summer Movie Express.

Regal Summer Movie

 

Regal also gives points for concession purchases on their card (though only a ridiculous few) which is something my Epic does not. The big chain does have other advantages. My wife is able to exchange credit card points for Regal gift cards and Blue Cross Blue Shield also had a program that allowed me to redeem a Regal card through them.

Regal Crown Club

 

Combining Regal gift cards, the Regal Crown Club, and the numerous FREE movie ticket promotions has allowed me to spend very little on movies this summer.

There are currently FREE movie ticket offers at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Target on various DVDs and Blu-Rays for current movies Terminator Genisys, Max, Magic Mike XXL, Minions, and upcoming movies Fantastic Four, Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, Hitman: Agent 47, Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Pixels. Most of the stores have one or more endcaps devoted to those offers.

Hormel Pepperoni, Totino’s Pizza Rolls, and Orange Crush all have FREE movie ticket offers as well.

Going Outback for Some Wild Ginger

Obviously I normally just blog about movie, it’s my reason for being. On Sunday I ate so well that I just felt like sharing my the yumminess I savored.

Wild Ginger

 

For lunch, we went to Wild Ginger, a VietNamese restaurant in Arden. They primarily serve Pho. to which I’m addicted. One of the reasons I love it is because it is so customizable.

“PHO is a Vietnamese Noodle Soup which is generally served with a choice of beef, chicken or vegetarian. The soup includes rice noodles and is often served with fresh basil or mint leaves, fresh lime and bean sprouts.”

The Pho, which is delicious by itself, is served with a bowl of fresh bean sprouts, basil leaves, lime wedges, and jalapeno slices so you can adjust the flavor of the soup to perfection. They also have chili sauce, sriracha, peanut sauce, and hoisin sauce.

The picture above is of the ridiculously diabetic-coma-inducing dessert Halo Halo. It consists of sweet beans, sugar palm, flan, corn flakes, and ice cream. If you have a Pho restaurant in your town, you should try some Pho but share the Halo Halo.

Outback Steakhouse

 

I typically despise chain restaurants for much the same reasons as I despise buffets: You invariably get lowest common denominator food. Is there any more generic, anti-Italian Italian restaurant than Olive Garden? Can you make seafood any blander than Red Lobster (yes, the biscuits are good but they are easily made at home)?

The exception for me though is Outback steakhouse. The benefit and deficit to a chain restaurant is that whatever you order is pretty much the same no matter which restaurant you order it in. The steaks at Outback are consistently cooked the way I like them (medium rare) and even their cheap steak is fairly decent.

I’d love to say that we went for steaks but my wife needed a drink. Neither my wife nor I are big drinkers (more than one a month, less than one a week). We both love the Wallaby Darned, basically Outback’s version of a Peach Bellini. Although it isn’t usually on the menu, we order it Down Under, which is Outback speak for ‘with an extra shot’.

I can’t speak for your Outback of course but the Hendersonville one is filled with the friendliest staff from the manager on down. We’re always seated promptly and taken very good care of. I normally take care of everyone so it’s nice to be pampered every once in a while and that’s the way I feel at my Hendersonville Outback.

Anyway back to movies tomorrow. Pardon the digression.

 

Classics on the Big Screen – Jaws, Dracula, Double Indemnity

Apparently TCM’s big screen re-release of Gone with the Wind was a big success. I love seeing classic movies on the big screen. Turner Classic Movies is bringing a slew of classic movies to local theaters at the rate of one a month. Tickets and locations are available through Fathom Events.

Jaws

 

With Jurassic World currently dominating the screen, it seems fitting that the first one brought back is the original Jaws. All of the films will be shown at 2 and 7 p.m. on Sundays and Wednesdays. Jaws will be shown on 6/21 and 6/24. Ticket price is a bit steep at $15 but don’t blame your theater. That is just Fathom’s low-end pricing (if you’ve been to one of their operas, you know what I mean). I am looking forward to finally seeing this on the big screen.

Double Indemnity

7/19 & 7/22 – Double Indemnity (presumably chosen as representative of the channel’s Summer of Darkness and their wonderful FREE online course on Film Noir.

8/16 & 8/19 – Grease

9/20 & 9/23 – Psycho (Hitchcock)

Dracula

10/25 & 10/28 – Dracula double feature (1931) – The Lugosi version AND the Spanish version that was filmed on the same sets

11/29 & 12/2 – Roman Holiday

12/20 & 12/23 – Miracle on 34th Street

Lots of FREE Movies at the Theater – Jurassic World

Vudu

Haven’t shelled out the bucks for Jurassic World yet? Buy one of the original three films on Vudu ($9.99) and score a FREE ticket ($7 Fandango promo code) to Jurassic World (offer ends 6/26).

Avengers Age of Ultron

Wal-Mart still has specially marked boxes of Eggos that will score you a FREE movie ticket. Ignore the Avengers: Age of Ultron packaging – the FREE ticket is good for any movie. Wal-Mart also has an endcap with varios movie moneys attached to DVDs and Blu-Rays.

Jurassic World

I’m not sure how long this offer will last but Amazon is offering the Jurassic World Premiere Pack for $29.99 and you will a $15 Fandango promo code to see Jurassic World, the original Jurassic Park in digital format, and the pre-order for the Blu-Ray combo pack of Jurassic World.

Regal doesn’t understand what BOGO is supposed to mean. They currently have a Father’s Day promotion where if you buy someone (that someone can be you) a $50 gift card, they will send you, the buyer, an additional $10 gift card.

FREE movie tickets for Terminator Genisys have started popping up on Blu-Rays in Target. Unfortunately list on the Blu-Rays is a little high at the moment ($14.99 and up). Expect those prices to come down when they get featured in an ad at the end of June.

Regal’s New Crown Club Card

Regal Cinemas

 

I spent the past weekend at a conference in Atlanta with my wife and granddaughter. I hate Atlanta – too hot, too many people, too much traffic – but while I was there, I got to try out Regal’s new pilot program for their rewards card. It is currently in Beta and I am not sure what other markets it is in (certainly not our Asheville one).

I have to say both that I hate it and that I cannot wait until it comes to Asheville. Periodically, theaters and stores will revise their rewards programs in order to ‘serve you better’. This is typically market speak for we are taking away what you liked about our program and giving you something far worse and cutting your benefits but we’ll make it shiny so you won’t notice (looking at you Best Buy).

Their current program gives you a point per dollar spent, with a lot of caps and restrictions, namely a maximum of 20 box office credits per day (two tickets at most theaters will put you over that) and only a handful of credits for concessions. Every 50 points nets you something (small popcorn, small soda, movie ticket) in a set rotation.

The new program removes the point caps and restrictions (nice) and allows you to choose your own reward (incredibly nice) but makes those rewards much more expensive (gotcha!). It changes the point system to one you can spend and makes it a point per penny instead of per dollar so switching makes you think you are getting a lot more.

What makes the new program worthwhile? Well, in addition to the now overpriced FREE drinks, popcorn, and movies, you can use your points for movie tchochkes! The most expensive thing they had were 27″x40″ movie posters of current and upcoming features for 11,000 points. Some tchotchkes were already sold out like Jurassic World pins and a pretty nifty Mad Max backpack.

I would much rather earn points for tchotchkes than continue to get FREE popcorns that I save for my wife, small sodas that I have to pay to upgrade, and movie tickets where I’m going to go to the movie anyway.

The new program also had bonus points for daily movie visits at three different levels of membership (a la the new Coke Rewards program). Thankfully unlike Coke, the program does not rely on social media to up your level. On your sixth visit, you get Emerald status (250 extra points per day you attend I think). On your 20th visit of the year, you get the highest level which nets you 1,000 bonus points per day you attend. I will say that the points plus the highest bonus level points did not equal as fast as you earn rotational rewards now.

Sadly, while I was in the program for seeing a movie in Atlanta, as soon as I went to a movie on my return to Asheville, it switched me back to the regular rewards program and now I have no access to the beta test. /sigh if only I had spent those points before seeing Jurassic World.

It was fun while it lasted and I look forward to the corporate-wide rollout. With a good enough set of movie merchandise, I could see making Regal my go to destination for the movies.

GeekOut 2015, Honest Trailers, Jon Bailey

Geek-Week

This past weekend, my wonderful wife took me (and our adorable granddaughter) to Asheville’s GeekOut. She even wore her awesome Robin dress for the occasion. Her nemeses were quite gracious in taking a photo of the occasion.

jennyrobin

 

GeekOut was just a local convention the last time I went but it’s growing now. They had several guests this year, including Janet Varney (The Legend of Korra), Dante Basco (Hook, Avatar: The Last Airbender), Aurelio Voltaire (musician, comic book creator), and Jon Bailey. Jon Bailey is the voice of Honest Trailers on YouTube. You should definitely watch them if you haven’t – they can be found on Screen Junkies channel here. He has an epic movie trailer voice.

It is funny because the previous week, my younger daughter had been visiting from Florida and we talked about Honest Trailers. We also ended up watching a few dozen of them on the big screen. Sadly, she went back the week before GeekOut.

marcjonbailey

Jon Bailey emceed the costume contest and his voice made all the entrants that much cooler. My wife and I ended up chatting with him afterwards and getting an autograph for the movie room. He was kind enough to repeat one of my favorite lines, “Ermagerd! It’s Derpdevil!”. He does a lot of voiceover work and even if you haven’t seen Honest Trailers, you will know his voice when you hear it. His website can be found here.

Avengers Age of Ultron

Well I’ve been lucky enough to see Avengers: Age of Ultron twice now (3D in the double feature and a 2D 9:15 am showing with my wonderful wife) so I suppose I should write about it.

Avengers Age of Ultron

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Rated PG-13

When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it’s up to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron is magnificent. I’ve seen it twice in the theaters and am likely to watch it again. I also look forward to buying it on Blu-Ray. I will say that 3D did not add anything to the movie for me so I’d recommend against the extra charge. I saw a preview for Jurassic World in 3D and that looks like the 3D may be worthwhile.

That said, Age of Ultron is way too much. The CGI is seriously overwhelming. Whedon wanted a lot of the action to be freeflowing but I prefer setpieces properly designed where you can always tell what is happening (think Raiders of the Lost Ark). The CGI setpieces do showcase all of the team’s abilities and appearances but there is a serious case of information overload and in 3D, it is so much worse.

As a comic book fan, I love getting to see all the characters I grew up with appear on the big screen. Unfortunately the screenplay packs in so many, there is no room to breathe. We get The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Thor, and Black Widow all returning from Avengers. We also get Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Ultron, Baron Strucker, and Vision new to the movie series. Also appearing are War Machine from Iron Man, Heimdall and Erik Selvig from Thor, Nick Fury and Maria Hill from S.H.I.E.L.D., and Peggy Carter and The Falcon from Captain America.

Since Vibranium figures prominently in the plot, Ulysses Klaue is introduced, played by Andy Serkis in a rare non-CGI appearance. I expect this is supposed to set up the future Black Panther movie. There was even a scene with Loki that got cut and of course a character not mentioned in the end credits scene.

Another nitpick, and it is a nitpick, is that the dream sequences seem poorly handled, especially the ones involving Thor. Several things are given hasty or even no explanation. One would think that that wouldn’t happen in a two hour and twenty minute movie but Whedon just stuffs and stuffs and stuffs until the movie is bursting.

Now back to the original verdict. Age of Ultron is marvelous. All the characters are given good character beats. Hawkeye who had the worst storyline in Avengers gets the best one here. We had a great Hulk vs. Thor battle last time so here we get a great Hulk vs. Iron Man (in Hulkbuster armor!) battle.

The battles are frantic and packed with state of the art CGI. They are a lot of fun if a little hard to follow. The humor in the script is great, including a nice running gag at Captain America’s expense. This is definitely a Joss Whedon film and I look forward to what he does next (sadly he’s done with this series).

If you like Marvel’s cinematic universe, you’ll like this film. Go see it and you only need to stay for the first post-credit sequence. There isn’t a second one as in the first movie. Joss felt that he could not top the shawarma scene.

Double Features and Marathons!

Double Features and Marathons are my two favorite kinds of movies. I’m writing this ahead of time but I’m sure that I had a blast at the Avengers Double Feature.

Pitch Perfect Double Feature

 

Cinemark and Celebration! are both running a Pitch Perfect double feature on Thursday 5/14. It is not unlikely that Regal and AMC will follow suit. Unfortunately there is no Mad Max marathon for Mad Max Fury Road which also starts 5/14.

Jurassic Park

 

I am also hopeful of a Jurassic Park marathon with the new feature. Currently the only option is May 9th, the Academy of Natural Sciences is showing the first three movies on the big screen (but not the new one) at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa.

There are still some other possibilities this summer. I’d love (and even travel for) a Terminator marathon in front of the new feature. A Despicable Me marathon (1, 2, and Minions) would be great for my granddaughter and I. Perhaps a Magic Mike double feature to please the ladies. Oooh, how about a new and old Poltergeist? That last is exceptionally unlikely as the studios hate showing the original with the reboot (so much so that when our local cinema tried to book the original Carrie, they actually refused.). Other options include a Ted double feature and an Insidious marathon.

Sunset Drive-In

 

Speaking of double features, the Sunset Drive-In in Shelby, NC has opened for the season. This weekend (Friday and Saturday) they will be playing Avengers: Age of Ultron and Cinderella for only $12 a carload. I’m waiting for my granddaughter to be a little older before taking her but you should definitely go see a Drive-In movie if and when you can.

I am proud that both of my daughters have memories of the Waynesville Drive-In before it shut down a decade or so ago.