And now, as a break from my usual film reviews, here's a write up I did for South Africa's Cine Prestige line of luxury cinemas.
This review was originally published at Channel 24.
Cine Prestige has been open at The Zone in Rosebank since April
2012 and, despite its premium price, it's easy to understand why
these cinemas are soon to become fixtures at a number of new
locations throughout this coming year. After having already opened a
second Cine Prestige cinema at Cradlestone Mall in Johannesburg's
West Rand in November last year, these incredible cinemas are set to
also open in Sandton City, The Grove Mall (Pretoria) and Gateway
Shopping Centre (Durban) during the first half of 2014.
This review is based on my watching a 10 PM showing of Anchorman 2
at The Zone's Cine Prestige last Tuesday night, which was only my
second visit to this luxury cinema after having seen a preview of The
Wolf of Wall Street last year. While Scorsese's latest masterpiece
had me so enthralled that I only took a cursory note of the cinema –
considering its three hour length, it's hardly surprising that the
thing I noticed most was the comfort of the cinema's reclining chairs
– but the ceaselessly disappointing Anchorman 2 gave me plenty of
opportunity to appreciate my surroundings.
The costly price of these cinemas do mean that they're probably
best saved for special occasions – unless you have Discovery or
Edgars Club discount cards where the price is brought down
considerably, albeit to a still-higher price than regular cinemas –
but it's easy to see exactly why these cinemas demand higher prices.
On the perhaps less essential but still welcome side, those who
arrive early are rewarded with very comfortable leather couches and
accompanying tables, where platters of food can be ordered to be
eaten both before and during the film. As someone who both keeps
kosher and who has all the monetary riches of your average poor
journalist, I wasn't able to try the food but the menu is extensive
and is one that clearly goes far beyond the usual snack food of an
average South African cinema.
Putting aside these bells and whistles though, the real pleasure
of Cine Prestige is the movie watching experience itself. While the
quality of cinema seats have steadily been increasing in recent
years, nothing quite matches the sheer luxury of the heavily
cushioned, leather reclining seats of Cine Prestige that are so
spaciously set apart from one another that if you should happen to
want to kick the back of the seat of someone sitting in front of you,
you would literally have to get up and walk over there. With the
seats themselves, you also get a varnished wooden side table with a
cup holder on which to place your coldrinks, snacks or mini-meals.
Best of all, however, is the attention to detail that comes with
showing the film itself. The high-definition digital picture was
perfectly projected both times I visited this cinema and, like most
ludites, though I may occasionally miss good old-fashioned film, one
can't fault the bright, crystal clear clarity of Cine Prestige's 2k
The visuals, though nice, still aren't the cinema's best feature.
No, if there is one thing that sets the Cine Prestige apart from any
other regular, non-IMAX cinemas, it is the cinema's mind-blowingly
good sound. Making use of a three-way sound system and 7.1 surround
sound, Cine Prestige is an audiophile's paradise with crystal-clear,
powerful surround sound that is far more immersive than even the best
Incidentally, these cinemas are indeed 3D-ready but both films I
watched there were in glorious, full-coloured 2D.
Again, because of the cinema's well deserved but unquestionably
pricey ticket prices, I can only really recommend the Cine Prestige
for those special movies that you want to experience in the best
quality possible. I don't, in other words, recommend wasting your
time and money with Cine Prestige if you're going to watch something
like Anchorman 2 but, aside perhaps for IMAX - which is itself only
slowly being reintroduced in this country – there is no better way
to watch major “event” films like The Hunger Games or The
Avengers or even major auteur films by people like Martin Scorsese or
The Coen Brothers.