Saturday, December 14, 2013

Desolated By Mall Movie Experience

I know this is anecdotal; however, I attended the Smaug (pronounced Smowg? Is it au(ow)ger or au(ow)xilliary? Forget the deeper meanings of Tolkein and his times in the book) event yesterday and had the same sad feeling I did years ago when I sat in a Friendly's for 45 minutes and was the only customer eating breakfast the whole time (not one person came in the whole time, and the meal was undercooked).

Before I get to the movie I want to start with the arrival. Went around to the back of the theater complex at the local mall for parking closest to it and I know I have not been there for a few months and maybe year or two for Christmas holiday, but the paucity of cars in the lot stunned me. I know it was a (late) Friday morning, but it is two weeks before Christmas and the lot used to have more cars in it on any old day, you pick it.

So we (I attended with another person, yes) go inside and the first thing we do is get the tickets for the film. No problem. Film at noon, have an hour, no lines, nothing (not like I remember for Sith or Kong; used to get angry at myself for cutting it to close) in a relatively recent remodeling that is a fabulous complex.

Having some time to kill we decided to walk the length of the mall and see what was in the place. The first thing noticed was two restaurants in the food court, gone. I won't go all nostalgic and roll down memory lane on you folks, but it stunned my companion. So the fare in the mall now came down to a sandwich shop, a pizza house, and a Japanese or Chinese place. I suppose that is all you need; however, the mall is in the heart of the five colleges around here.

The trip around the mall was even more discouraging. Dollar outlets and beauty stores abound. I was down there for basketball sneakers because my current pair is reaching the end of the line; however, the Foot Locker and other shoe store were gone. The only place to go was a Dick's, and they didn't have what I was looking for. Other than that, the pathetic kiosks and walled of areas were plentiful, but the mall Santa sat in his chair without one child coming to see him.

Anyhow, over an early lunch my guest pointed out it was a dead mall, had been for a while and such, that the theater was the main attraction, and that is all likely true; however, it also doesn't ring true. If this economy were really in recovery (and not just a looting scheme that benefits corporate profits and wealthy and elite individuals) then the food shops wouldn't be closing down. Yes, the college kids may be gone for the holidays, but that post-dates the closing of the food places. That had to have happened because of forces far before the holidays. What is more likely is the kids have no money to spend anymore, also knowing they will have loans due soon. My point is the alleged momentum would at least have people taking chances, right? Banks not loaning money, or no one have money to get a loan to start a business? I suppose the crypt-like silence and mellow-murmuring as we traversed the tomb affected my observations, huh?

And on into the movie: to say the theater was 1/4 full would be generous. Yes, I know it was early on a Friday, but this was premiere day and week. Where were all the nut LOTR fans? Did they all go to the midnight shows (no Batman shooting, but someone was stabbed with a sword in South Carolina)? At least some semi-rude college kids sat behind us. As for the movie, I give it two-and-a-half to three stars on a scale of four. I'm not a big LOTR fan, wasn't a big fan of the original trilogy although I have come to appreciate it more over time. Stretching the Hobbitt out over three films is for the obvious rea$ons, so I did think this one was just a bit long, although the final half hour was enjoyable even if it ended abruptly (see you next year?). It's good storytelling even if it doesn't make my list of favorites. One drawback to the 3D thing was during an escape scene I felt like I was watching a video game at one point, but overall it didn't bother me.

Later in the afternoon, as I read my Globe, they basically confirmed my experience:

"The National Retail Federation estimates that sales during the four-day Thanksgiving Day weekend dropped 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion compared with last year. That was the first decline in the seven years the group has tracked the data. And other industry data have shown that, so far, fewer Americans have visited malls and brick and mortar stores compared with last year. But more people are shopping on their computers." 

Not nearly enough to make up for the lack of visiting actual stores, something we are all encouraged to do by the whoreporate pre$$ so we can spend on other things such as food and gas and help amplify the effects of the holiday season for business. This during a time of alleged recovery allegedly gaining  momentum and all the other crapola rolled at us by the mouthpiece of money and elitism.

It's going to be a cold Christmas in more ways than one.