Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

The Great Train Robbery

(review...)

" I always wanted to be a criminal I guess. Not this big a one. "
— Martin Sheen, Badlands

MRQE Top Critic

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When Colony Square was built and opened by Colorado Cinemas in 1994, it was the go-to movie destination.

How is she become as a widow, she that was great among the nations. What was once a cutting-edge and distinctive showplace has devolved into a palooka, a has-been. Our purely pleasant and ordinary movie-going experience was punctuated only by memories of days gone by.

The theater is located conveniently at the interchange of U.S. 36 with McCaslin Boulevard, the last stop before heading into Boulder proper. Parking is copious and convenient. The building’s distinctive faux-Monticello silhouette and interior details were an attempt to marry a movie theater to an individual style, one of the last attempts. Its inflated and elongated expression of Federal-style architecture was instantly, brazenly kitschy.

It’s a hoot to look at from the inside, too. Once you ascend the stairs, past the columned portico, you enter the rotunda. Yes, folks, this place has a rotunda. The men’s room just off of it features a Minuteman silhouette; the ladies, a Dolly Madison-esque one. Awesome. Incongruous are the immense cardboard cutouts scattered about the lobby, flogging upcoming summer fare such as “The Last Airbender,” as well as a few coin-operated video games and a clutch machine, and the ubiquitous ATM.

The Georgian trappings fade out as you press deeper into the building, extending to faux-marble podia through which the moviegoers pass. The interior lobby is well-designed, with a concession stand on either side of the room (half of it was closed when we were there), and the manager’s office on the fourth side of the square, guarding the two corridors that branch off on either side to the auditoriums.

The lightly littered carpet and neglected floors and surfaces are evidence that spirits are low here. It’s subtle, but palpable. The theater’s current owner, Kerasotes, recently announced its intent to sell almost all of its cinemas to the AMC chain. Perhaps it’s as many companies do when mergers are announced — not a lot of money is thrown at the operation until the sale goes through.

The restrooms are similarly morose.

Concessions are pretty standard, with promotional matter exhorting the customer to combos. They feature Eisenberg hot dogs, which are supposedly prized in the Upper Midwest region but largely unknown here. (Eisenberg and Kerasotes are both based in Chicago.)

The auditoriums have stadium seating, though the seats are not as large and cozy as in multiplexes built since that time; nor are the rows as steeply canted as is the industry standard at present. Always a treat is sitting in the front row of the main section and putting feet up on the metal handrail. If you are exceptionally tall, these inadvertent benefits make the viewing experience a lot more comfortable.

Flanking the walls of the auditorium are a series of shield-like silver-and-gold Kerasotes escutcheons, each bearing a double spray of optic-fiber white light. They are beautiful, but not so much when some of them are not functioning.

The pre-show was not as thunderously loud as it usually is, thanks to the fact that we were there to see a kids’ movie. The selection of trailers ranged from the advertising of pending live broadcasts to kiddie fare.

We saw “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” not a film to make huge demands on the technical capabilities of the projection and sound systems. The movie played out with standard efficiency and sharpness of image.

Colony Square is still a fine place to see a movie. It just needs a little more attention to detail, and a bit of pride in its uniqueness.