Sometimes, though, the reality of the PR-speak can be a pleasant surprise. I’m not entirely sure it’s the wave of the future, but the Cinemark Farmington’s bag of tricks add up to a unique movie experience that is mostly great with a couple of pitfalls that can be worked around with a little advanced planning.
The theater’s biggest draw is its one XD theater, which will be the home of its newest releases and is often compared by Cinemark to the enormously tall IMAX screen down in Salt Lake. It’s not quite the same experience, but the XD screen (when combined with some of Cinemark’s other features) does offer a considerably more intense 3D experience than I’ve felt anywhere else. For those looking to immerse themselves in the 3D experience this is definitely the best bang you’re going to get for your buck (I kept imagining how “How to Train Your Dragon” would have looked on it), but it’s also the only time in my entire life I’ve ever experienced even a touch of 3D vertigo (a vague dizziness and nausea connected to watching everything swoop around on screen).
For those who already know they’re prone to that, it might be best to skip the XD theater entirely or take off your glasses for a minute if you feel it coming on. (Cinemark uses RealD 3D, which is extremely high quality and still surprisingly watchable even without the glasses).
(Note: Tickets for the XD screen are marked up, whether the movies are in 3D or not. The normal XD price is about the same as the 3D price at Gateway, and the XD 3D price is $2 more than that.)
It’s the features that can be found in all the Cinemark’s 14 screens, however, that left me the most satisfied. The theater has reserved seating (like the Megaplex at the Gateway), which is fantastic for anyone who wants to get good seats without camping in the theater 20 minutes early so it doesn’t fill up without you.
The enhanced sound essentially means more speakers, which doesn’t quite replicate true-surround sound but it’s a definite upgrade that means you won’t miss any dialogue (though for sensitive ears, explosions might be an issue).
The ceiling-to-floor (and wall-to-wall) screens are also a treat, leaving you feeling like you’re closer to the movie no matter where in the theater you sit (the widescreen does add black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, but it doesn’t detract from the experience).
And that curved screen trick I mentioned earlier? It actually makes the entire movie brighter, leaving the shadows not quite so opaque and allowing me to pick up details I’d missed the first two times I’d seen the movie. All together, it’s like the movie theater version of buying a bigger TV, and honestly there’s a part of me that’s a little worried about having to transition back to more traditional screens at another theater.
The seats, which differ only nominally between the XD and normal theaters (mostly in the seat covering), are sleek rather than overstuffed and recline fairly significantly (the effect is similar to a rocker that pushes your head forward, which may cause difficulties for some people with back issues. Others, however, reported no trouble.). The leg room, however, is uniformly fantastic, leaving plenty of room to stretch out and making it far easier to sneak out past already seated people for one last run at the extra butter flavoring machine (there are several available, in case you only have a few minutes and don’t want to wait in a line).
The self-serve concessions area also offers a wider range of movie treats, including hot dogs, cookies, ice cream, and candy sold by weight rather than box (the Station Park Cinemark sells Coke products). You pay on the way out of the walled-in concessions area, much like you would at a buffet.