Although the Packers/Viking war has made crossing the Minnesota border more difficult, it can still be done. Last week, under the cover of darkness, my wife and I were able to sneak under the barbed wire, avoid the border patrols, and enter Minnesota. The goal of our perilous journey was to locate the holy grail of shopping: the Mall of America.
By following the holy signs, we arrived at the Mall the next morning. Wanting to blend in with the natives, I wore a blonde wig and blue contact lenses. My blonde, blue-eyed wife needed no disguise.
My wife’s goal was to visit every store in the mall. My main goal was to see a special showing of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. I’ve liked some of the Harry Potter movies but I usually wait for them to come out on DVD. It wasn’t that I was in a hurry to see this movie. Rather, I wanted to try out a new gimmick called the D-Box motion seat.
To enhance your movie watching experience, the D-Box motion seat tilts and vibrates during the movie. So, the idea is that if the character on the screen is flying, your seat swivels and tilts, which is supposed to give you a feeling of flying. Or if there is an explosion, the seat vibrates.
Arriving at the movie theater, I bought my ticket in advance and was escorted by the manager to a special computer screen where I picked out my seat, B7. Sundance Theaters also allows you to pick out your seat when you purchase tickets. Because I am really picky about where I sit, I really like this approach.
I returned a couple of hours later to see the movie. After showing my ticket, I walked down to theater number 12. Before the movie started, an usher came into the theater and checked our ticket stubs. When the movie plays, only occupied seats are activated. One man was in the wrong seat. So, the usher deactivated his correct, empty seat and activated the seat he had moved to. This was handled very professionally by the usher.
The usher explained to us that the intensity of each seat’s movements could be controlled by a button on the front: we could choose strong, medium, or mild. I started out with the setting on strong, but after a few minutes into the movie, I switched to medium strength.
Like any other writer, I like to try new things and collect new experiences. I was hoping for the best, but the D-Box was kind of a dud. My motion seat did vibrate, tilt, and swivel at the right times, but it really didn’t add anything to the movie or enhance my experience.
There are some great, very sophisticated simulators in malls and arcades now. For example, A.C.E.S. in Mall of America offers enclosed flight simulators. I’ve seen race car simulators in several malls. And I’ve been in some fantastic simulators/rides in Las Vegas. So, I think the D-Box motion seat was trying to be a sophisticated simulator but it came up short.
The chair equipped with the motion device is not enclosed. So, you still get the extraneous noise and people moving around you. The seat vibrations were just vibrations and were kind of distracting at times. The swiveling and tilting of the seat really didn’t give me a feeling of flying. And because of the motion box under my chair, my chair sat higher than normal. Because I have short legs, my feet did not sit flat on the floor. About an hour into the movie, I actually became a little uncomfortable and developed a kind of wedgie. I’ve sat in a lot of theaters and have never had this problem before.
The D-Box motion seat kind of half works but it needs to be much more sophisticated. And maybe Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince wasn’t the best movie choice for this new technology, either. Perhaps Saving Private Ryan, The Hurt Locker, or any war movie might have been a better choice for a vibrating seat.
I also noticed while watching Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince that the images on the screen were noticeably sharper. I asked the usher about this and he said that their movies are first downloaded into a computer and then projected onto the screen in high definition. I did like the sharper images and it was really showcased by the special effects in this new Harry Potter movie.
An interesting side note: a man two seats to my left was checking his messages on his phone throughout the movie. He didn’t talk on his phone and didn’t bother me in any way, but that was a first for me. And this was the same man who had sat in the wrong seat before the movie started. Was he CIA? CONTROL? IRS? Cheaters?
The next night, wearing camouflage and dragging five shopping bags behind us, my wife and I sneaked under the barbed wire and back across the border into Wisconsin. Arriving home safely, we celebrated by sacrificing some beer and cheese in front of our Packers shrine.
I like it that movie theaters are trying new things to improve the movie watching experience. For example, surround sound has greatly improved the listening experience at movie theaters; I remember how bad the sound was in movie theaters years ago. But the D-Box motion seat just doesn’t cut it and earns the a grade of D.