Based on Megan Seling's review, I went to see A Good Day to Die Hard at the Ark Lodge Cinema in Columbia City this weekend. And to explain what happened, I have to give you a little background on my preferences: I'm not a perfectionist when it comes to audio and video quality. I just don't give a shit about the difference between Blu-rays and regular DVDs when watching TV shows and movies. I can watch the most scratched-up film print and, if the movie is interesting enough, the poor quality of the video and audio will barely register with me. But more than anything else, the quality of the moviegoing experience at Ark Lodge blew me away. The picture was crystal clear; it was like putting on a pair of prescription glasses after suffering through a week of blurriness. And the sound system was amazing, too. A lot of chain theaters simply amp up the bass so you feel the explosions deep in your gut and everyone pretends that that's good enough. But Ark Lodge's sound system surrounds you with the large and small noises of the film. It's like sitting in the middle of the action, in the best way possible.
I cannot emphasize enough how little this sort of thing really registers with me. I saw three movies this weekend, and one of them was in a shitty box on Federal Way that smelled like farts and plastic and I was still so happy to just be watching a movie in a theater that none of that mattered to me. I love Cinerama for its totally engrossing experience, but I could not compose an ordered list of the quality of presentation in Seattle movie theaters, from best to worst. But now I can tell you that Ark Lodge definitely belongs at the top of that list. Also a compelling reason to visit Ark Lodge: A matinee show and a (pretty damn large) small popcorn with real butter is just ten bucks. It's a great little neighborhood movie-house, and it's less than five minutes walk from the light rail. If you love going to the movies, you owe it to yourself to go visit.
As to A Good Day to Die Hard, I mostly agree with Megan that it's a suitable evolutionary step in the series. I appreciated that a lot of the action wasn't CGI; there were a lot of real cars that got blown up real good for this movie, and that's becoming a rare treat. But this movie was directed by an idiot. It's rare when I think that I could do a better job framing and filming almost every shot in a movie, but John Moore makes so many remedial mistakes that even an amateur director plucked straight out of high school could probably have done a better job. Bruce Willis's punchlines get stepped on, action is obscured by weird framing choices, and great opportunities are missed at just about every turn. I'm convinced that a better director—hell, just a competent director—could have made A Good Day to Die Hard one hundred percent better. As it is, the movie finds its successes in spite of Moore's bizarre choices and terrible judgment. But at least the fastidious quality control of Ark Lodge ensured that I managed to enjoy everything about A Good Day to Die Hard that was worth enjoying.