Rarely do I see a movie theatrically that I feel compelled to write a poor review of the actual theater. But the Olde Town AMC Theaters in Arvada are an exception. They are exceptionally bad.

The story:

K and I went to see Toy Story 3 Saturday night last. Upon beginning the preview reel, the center speaker exhibited symptoms of having a blown driver or something else wrong with the thing: all the dialogue (across all the previews) was missing a lot of frequency range, almost as if everything were coming through a telephone filter. This was not acceptable. I complained to the management and she said in a rather unconcerned manner that she’d look into it but acknowledged one other person had complained about it. She noted it must have been “intermittent.” Yeah, right.

Fortunately there was another theater showing TS3 only 30 minutes later, so we moved there. It started well and I was pleasantly relieved with the proper functioning of the center speaker. Then, a few reels or so into the movie, the digital track started failing over to the analog backup. This wasn’t just a one-time occurrence: it was happening continuously up to several several times per second. Accompanying this digital/analog/digital in/out was the requisite popping noise and shift in level and panning, most notably in the surround channels. I was about ready to call it quits but decided to wait until the reel change when thankfully the problem subsided and I Could return to enjoying the film. (The film was great, by the way.)

I would have to give this particular theater a D. I will certainly never visit it again until it changes ownership for the better and/or gets certified by THX. This moviegoing experience made me start a blacklist of theaters I will no longer visit. This doesn’t apply to the cheapo chains, such as Elvis Cinemas, as one expects it from them. But AMC should know better. I highly suggest that anyone who values the technical attributes of proper film projection should avoid AMC Olde Town at all costs, in this case $9 for admission.