(Yes, it’s Monday and not Sunday but it’s that time between Christmas and New Year so who can blame me for being a little late?)
The title is a little misleading. The ‘nearly’ refers to the incomplete team (we missed you Helen!), not ‘nearly’ surviving the marathon. WE SURVIVED! Now that’s out of the way, we begin.
The Prince Charles Cinema is located in Leicester Square in London. It has two screens. And it’s wonderful. I know that’s fairly widely noted but there’s no harm in saying it again. I’ve been able to see some great films there. Some that didn’t have a wide release (Woody Allen: A Documentary), some that I missed on their original release (Anna Karenina) and events, such as Rex Manning Day (a special screening of Empire Records). The whole place has a love of films and so do all the attendees.
Another sidenote about The PCC is that they are one of the only cinemas that still has a 35mm projector. This might not mean that much to a lot of people but as someone who has worked as a projectionist, this is a pretty big deal. Most cinemas have fully converted to digital and those that haven’t are either in the process or emphasise their use of 35mm prints. Vinyl has had a resurgence, hopefully this new love for 35mm will take effect before too many projectionists are made redundant. (This is a little off topic but will be referred to later on, including my knowledge of film projection – super limited knowledge.)
The PCC runs a number of marathon events but this has been the first one that I’ve gone to. Friday 28th December. Starting at 7pm. Iron Man. The Incredible Hulk. Iron Man 2. Thor. Captain America: The First Avenger. Avengers Assemble. (Not Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, calling it Avengers Assemble is difficult enough.)
Iron Man – 7pm (approx)
We started the night with the first. The beginning. The reason that Avengers Assemble exists. The first film to be shown at the marathon in 35mm. A fairly dirty print. I mean, I’ve seen worse, but it wasn’t great. The biggest cheer during the film? Stan Lee’s cameo. Friday was his 90th birthday don’t forget. Second biggest cheer? For Agent Phil Coulson. At this point just Agent Coulson. In a pretty ugly suit. This film had so much enjoyment to give the audience. The laughs were bigger, there were cheers for so much. First one done.
The Incredible Hulk – 9.25pm (approx)
The film that people were looking forward to the least. You could tell by the number of empty seats. (This marathon was sold out.) And by the comments throughout the film. If the film had come later in the evening I’m pretty sure I would’ve taken those two hours to nap. But it was too early! The only saving factors were the subtle mention of Captain America (super soldier reference) and Tony Stark’s appearance at the end. Not really worth it. But the 35mm print was in much better condition than Iron Man. I think that’s cos it doesn’t get as much use. Harsh or just true?
Iron Man 2 – 11.30pm (approx)
Excluding The Incredible Hulk, which I’d only seen at the cinema, Iron Man 2 is the film of the marathon I’ve seen the fewest times. (Or something in better English than that.) It has a lot of problems but watching it I remembered the fun factors. Mostly Sam Rockwell. Any time he is on screen it lights up. Then there’s Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff. Her hair when in ‘that’ catsuit isn’t as good as in Avengers Assemble, but her being the ‘new’ Pepper Potts is pretty great. I mostly love the costumes. But I would. There is a lot of humour in this, whether it’s Downey Jr., Favreau as Happy Hogan, Rockwell, Gregg (more cheers for Coulson) or even some of Rourke’s lines. It just makes me excited to see what Shane Black will bring to Iron Man 3. (Five months away now…) Then there was the post-credit scene. The excitement was building and building at this point. Side note: another dirty 35mm print. I was saddened.
Thor – 1.45am (approx)
So we were getting closer, but tiredness was starting to sink in. But, have no fear, Thor is one of the best films and when you’re surrounded by extreme fans of Hemsworth and Hiddleston you have no chance of falling asleep. There were more cheers throughout this – Coulson, reference to Banner, Thor being a ‘fish-out-of-water’, and many of Loki’s shocked expressions at the beginning. We were hitting the final hurdle… (Thor: The Dark World is too far away.)
Captain America: The First Avenger – 3.45am (approx)
There were a number of disparaging remarks made throughout the night by various people (staff and audience) about the weaknesses of this film. “It’s not great.” “You won’t miss much by sleeping.” And the like. (I may have invented those quotes because I don’t remember what people actually said but you get the picture.) I still have a soft spot for Captain America. No-one who knows me is shocked. Even from reading this blog I bet it isn’t surprising. There are just some great moments and performances. And Agent Peggy Carter. This film also marked the third appearance of a different Howard Stark. And the first of the technical snafu of the evening/morning. During the scene where *spoiler* Peggy consoles Steve over Bucky’s death the film cut out. Now, this was a 35mm print and, given the short time between the film re-starting, I guess that the problem was something very simple and possibly just human error. There are no complaints. These things happen – they happened to me enough! Everything was sorted quickly and we only missed a few seconds – through re-starting the film. All understandable. But my favourite moment was Sarah telling me that she heard a customer ask a staff member if the film had stopped because the projectionist had fallen asleep. As if each reel needed to be changed during the film à la Cinema Paradiso. Bless. Then there was the post-credit scene. The teaser trailer for Avengers Assemble. Now we were getting somewhere!
Avengers Assemble – 6.30am (6am intended…)
…there was a delay. Avengers Assemble marked the only digital film shown in the marathon. And there were technical difficulties. I’ve been there. Where I worked at least, with digital you pretty much have to call someone from the technical department. The most common solution seems to be the ‘switch it off and switch it on again’ technique. But if you don’t check this with someone you could lose all of the films ingested on the projector. Meaning no screening. When there’s a problem with a 35mm projector/projection, you can generally spot the problem and fix it there and then. This was shown with Captain America. Here? A waiting game. But we were informed early on, and, after a wait, all was solved. Avengers assembled and we were appeased! More cheers, more ‘Coulson Lives, Fury Lies’, more laughter, more swoons. The film lived up to promise! Worst part? By this point, 30-second naps occurred. We were so excited, we wanted to be awake but…my body failed me a bit. But only for seconds! I swear! (I had contacts in so I was scared of actually failing asleep.)
The evening/marathon/morning ended at about 9am. We were all exhausted. There were survivor photos taken. We slinked away – none of us quite feeling up to having photos taken after a sleepless night. Did we fail there? I…don’t care! We survived the marathon! Would I do another? Possibly. It would definitely depend on the films.
Did anyone go? Anyone go to a similar marathon event at The PCC or somewhere else?