Coming Soon: A Movie Experience Like No Other


Photo Warner Bros.

Tenet movie poster

Stephen Kirby, Web & Social Media Manager

Buttery popcorn. Overpriced candy. Reclining seats. Sticky floors. Booming speakers. All of this comes together to create an experience that is known as “going to the movies.” This experience has been known and loved by many, and in order to remain in business, theaters have had to evolve for as long as they have existed. In the past, theaters were revolutionized by inventions like the television and drive-in theaters, but nothing shook the industry as much as COVID-19 has. 

Due to people knocking soda cups in dark aisles and accidentally tossing popcorn when they get scared, movie theaters have never been what you would call “clean.” Thankfully, movie theater workers have always cleaned the seats regularly. However, when you introduce a highly contagious virus to an industry where different people eat, drink, and even sleep, all in the same leather chairs hour after hour, something has to change. 

That is why for the past few months, movie theaters have been closed. Planned movie releases were either pushed back or in some cases have gone straight to streaming platforms. 

For avid theater go-ers, this was their worst nightmare. They have been robbed of their experience of paying way too much for a movie that they could wait a few months to see.

 Fortunately for them, theaters are finally opening up with precautions in place to make the theater as safe as possible. 

I happen to enjoy movie theaters, which is why I decided to go see Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, an action-thriller released in the U.S. on Sept. 3 that follows an unnamed CIA agent (John David Washington) on his time-bending journey to save the world. The film stars Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. 

Washington’s character “The Protagonist” is part of a secret organization that wants to learn more about technology in which time becomes inverted. The technology is not time travel, but people and objects are able to travel inverted in time. I can’t explain it since I barely understand myself, but it allows people to move backward in time, but still interact with people moving forward. The technology is from the future and extremely powerful, and the plot of the movie is about the organization’s journey to save the world.   

One aspect of the movie that stood out was the acting. The performances were convincing, and the characters fit well into the plot. The two main characters – Washington and Pattinson – complemented each other well as Washington was the solemn hero and Pattinson was his nerdy partner. This type of serious and goofy partnership definitely is not new to Hollywood, but a twist at the end makes up for the cliche. The supporting characters were just as thought-out, and they all blended together to create a suspenseful film.  

In addition, the visuals were incredible. Many scenes were shot in both normal time and reverse, and from the perspective of someone who has zero background in cinematography, I was in awe that someone was able to edit it that way. Being that it was an action movie, there were scenes with massive explosions that I also found fascinating. 

With that being said, the plot itself was a bit too much. For every second I spent enjoying the film, I spent twice as much time wondering what was going on. The concept of time is far from a simple topic, and I don’t think that the film did a good job of simplifying it at all. It was the type of movie that you couldn’t look away from, or else you will be totally lost.

Overall, the movie was interesting, but I would not recommend it to someone that just wants to relax with a casual movie. If someone is willing to give their full attention for two and a half hours and possibly even take notes, then this movie would be perfect. 

As for the theater itself, I would describe the experience as abnormal. From what I could tell it was safe, but it was far from an authentic movie theater experience. 

I could tell something was off immediately when I arrived in the parking lot. There were only three cars beside mine in a parking lot that used to have rows upon rows of cars. 

The first thing I noticed once entering was also how empty it was. The only people in the lobby were employees, and the entire room was dead silent. They instructed me to wear a mask for the whole movie besides when eating or drinking and sent me on my way to watch the movie. As I expected, the theater was just as empty when I left.

I would describe both Nolan’s Tenet and the current state of movie theaters a bit hard for me to process.