“Surely some mistake, Mrs Nix!” I hear you cry. “The BFI IMAX in Waterloo costs £18.50 for an adult, premium ticket, and even though there is a comprehensive range of ticket types and concessions you have to plump for a DMR of 60 min or less before it costs £10. Have you thrown your £10 or less policy to the winds?”
No I have not, you remarkably well-informed reader. I have adopted low cunning and an active interest in the various voucher deals flying around our fair city. The BFI IMAX is sometimes (if rarely) free. There were free screenings at the Thames Festival to those prepared to queue. My solution was the Time Out voucher service which had an offer to go to the BFI IMAX at Waterloo for £8.50 which I swooped on. I’ve used couple of these voucher deals now, and I’ve never had a problem cashing them in, so I do recommend them to you. I particularly like the Time Out offers, because they tend to be a bit more Londoncentric, but others like Groupon and Wahanda tend to have a wider range of things, including discounted cosmetic surgery procedures more often than you might think. I continue to wonder whether cosmetic procedures are something you really want to skimp on, but that’s just me. In any event you need to act fast – some offers only last a day, some are on there for a period of some weeks, as was the case with the BFI voucher. My advice is if you fancy something, go very quickly, and cash them in as quickly as you can too, or you might forget, and then it is just money wasted.
Anyway, voucher cashed in, I took spouse on a suitably romantic walk across Waterloo Bridge, which is traditionally considered the best view of London. I think London looks better at night from here than during the day. I took the obligatory photos, spouse romantically offering tips on composition and particularly how to hold the camera very still during a one second long exposure time. Muse satisfied, we trundled to the end of the Bridge, and wandered the walkways which took us to the BFI. Touching my hand softly, spouse whispered gently in my ear, “I don’t care how many disco lights they put in the walkway, it still smells of wee.”
We walked on swiftly to what really is a high temple of cinema. it comes fully equipped with a very pleasant bar and food area, and you go up the stairs to be given your 3-D specs and to be allowed into the inner sanctum, the holiest of holies, the IMAX cinema itself. the screen is the height of five double-decker buses, and it proudly proclaims to be the biggest screen in Britain. The website claims it is the larger screen in Europe (presumably they have built a bigger one in Europe somewhere, but goodness knows how, because this one is so big that when you look at the top from the bottom, you think about having a nosebleed). This is a cinema run by people who are both very cool, and very keen on cinema: much more so than other chains who are merely fanatical about film. They are very firm that you must sit in the actual seat you have been allocated (unless you come in more than 5 minutes late – the website says then that you must simply sit somewhere unobtrusive, so you don’t disturb other, more punctual, film fans).
After clambering up the equivalent of what felt like 15 double-decker buses, I sat down politely, and took in my cinema going peers, most of whom were wearing their 3-D glasses already.
It was unexpectedly like a nightclub, with some sort of disco pony music and light show. At bang on 9:15, a stand-up cinema usher took to the stage and explained the drill, which mainly said you only needed to don your 3-D glasses when a New Zealander voice said you had to. He helpfully did an impression, which got a mild laugh, before the lights dimmed and the adverts came on. The ads were shorter and kookier than I’m used to, and they made no attempt tall to fill the massive screen with them. Then, trailers. I had made the executive decision to go for an actual proper film rather than mess around with a boring IMAX specific film narrated by Morgan Freeman. I’m all about the plot me, and saw no reason to sit through something worthy celebrating the grandeur of nature. Seconds after the trailer started, I realised I’d made a big mistake. I’ve never seen a picture that I actually wanted to reach out and touch just to make sure the gorilla wasn’t really there. We then spent two hours watching the last Harry Potter film. I saw that young man go from boy wizard to Blue Harbour man at M&S quicker than you could say ‘National Treasure’, and even though it was all very impressive, the sad truth is I would’ve been a great deal better off with the gorillas.
But no matter. Spouse and I sat there and lapped up the dragons, magic and general crashing about. When it was all over, we removed our glasses and walked arm in arm to Waterloo, through the urine soaked underpasses. We plan to go back another time with our fabulous film friend Zim who has yet to see a 3-D film. I fully anticipate it will blow our addled little minds. Can’t wait.