The Raid 2 and The Worst Theater Experience of my Life
The Raid 2 is a fantastic film. It’s a basically perfect continuation of the previous film, with the same brutal action expanded upon by the increased budget. Like most martial arts action movies, the story is a fairly generic tale about a cop who must go undercover to protect his family. Unlike them, the story is actually pretty well executed, with dialogue that is notable for being overwhelmingly decent. I’m not here to talk about this film, however. Instead, I want to talk about my experience in the theater that night, as it was no doubt the worst experience in a theater that I’ve ever had. So many little annoyances compounded on each other that I swear it was a bad joke.
Firstly, the Eccles theater where the screening was scheduled is unfortunately designed, with the slope of the chairs shallow enough that not only can the person in front of you block the screen, but so can those sitting several rows down. So of course, not only did I end up behind a tall person with a lot of hair, I ended up behind two. All together I could see maybe 3/4ths of the screen at any given time. As the film was primarily performed in Indonesian and Japanese, that of course means I missed most of the dialogue, as between the two there was no way for me to see the subtitles.
Secondly, the audience in general was stupendously rude. I had to remind the two men watching next to me to stop talking ten minutes into the film. Not whispering, talking loudly. They were not the only ones either, I could clearly hear pockets of conversation from all around the theater, and not once did I see any of the numerous volunteers approach anyone. There was the understandable laughing and cringing at the various brutal things that happened in the film, but there was also the less understandable round of applause after every single fight scene, no matter how brief. That’s not to mention the rampant use of cell phones in the theater, like the same man next to me who spent at least 5 minutes searching for wooden tables with his screen on what was obviously not the lowest brightness setting.
Near the middle of the film, strangely during a calm dialogue scene, there were yells for a medic. The lights were turned on, the movie was paused, and a man several rows behind me was escorted out, as he had apparently suffered a seizure. I’m not complaining about that, it was completely out of his control and the film was rolled back to the beginning of the scene, but I mention it to highlight just how strange this experience was overall.
As the icing on the cake, I encountered my first hipster asshole just outside of the screening. Walking to the bus, happy that I had seen such a great film but fuming at the experience, I heard a man talking loudly several yards back. He said something to the effect of “well the stunts may have been good, but the script was absolutely pedestrian. A film should be more then just stunts!” Now as I mentioned previously, I felt that the film’s dialogue and story were generic but well executed. I was angry enough at that point with everything else that I turned around to tell the guy off, but he was far away enough that I would have either had to shout as loudly as he was, or wait for a long enough time that it would have been obvious I was looking for a confrontation. It was something in his tone of voice, and holding the kind of opinion that I thought was an incredibly shallow interpretation that made me hate this person to an irrational degree.
Perhaps all of this was petty, and perhaps I’m just a stick in the mud, but this was just such an unusually horrible experience for me. It’s a shame that it had to happen during such a fantastic film, and at Sundance of all places. Every other experience I’ve had here has been fantastic, so I just wonder how this one went so horribly wrong.