Tonight, 10th February 2017, Bournemouth opened up it's new Odeon cinema to the public within the BH2 complex. With my own Boy Wonder (Andy) at my side, we experienced The Lego Batman Movie in the isense auditorium. This is not a review of the movie - it's a review of the cinematic experience.
One other caveat: I am not reviewing the food here. I'm not prepared to buy cinema food or drink at the extortionate prices they demand. As such, i'm not best placed to tell you if the hot dogs, nachos, pick 'n' mix or fountain drinks are of a better quality or price than elsewhere. Personally, I take my own bottled drink and soft food (no crunching!). I do, however, think that taking pizzas into the cinema is a bad, stinky idea.
My first observation is that the place is geared up to sell you food and drink. Having entered the main foyer there's a Costa coffee, drinks fountains, popcorn stands, nachos, sweets and more. You enter via an escalator if coming up from Bournemouth Gardens or at ground level if via the main road opposite the Moon in the Square pub.
Immediately on your left there's a bank of 7 or 8 ticket machines for you to print pre-booked tickets or just to buy some from scratch. There were a few staff hovering around if you needed help; I'm not sure what you'd do if you wanted to pay by cash or couldn't work the machine - possibly via the food concession stand?
Having bought your tickets and foods, it's through a ticket checkpoint and then up another escalator to the floor where the 10 screens are. It's very open-plan and space-age. The corridors are quite dimly lit but there are big numbers on each screen to help direct you. On this first floor you can also buy a drink from the bar and some 'pizza and plank' food. I couldn't see how much the food was but the pizza itself didn't look very substantial. There's a great view of the gardens from the window in the bar area. Kids were in there too, so I guess it's not an age-restricted thing.
The main feature
As I've already mentioned, we opted to see the movie in the isense auditorium (facts are below). You access it along a curved corridor with a huge video screen on one side which was showing some sort of forest scene. When you enter the auditorium the size of the screen really hits you - It's BIG! We were five rows back from the front and any nearer would probably be a strain on the neck and eyes. We had standard seats rather than those fancy leather recliners as advertised in some of the online stories. We also had cup holders rather than tables and it was nice that they weren't sticky from too many Coke spillages.
The projection was, as you would hope, crystal clear and the enhanced sound VERY LOUD. When they did the promo ad for Dolby Atmos to show off its capabilities you really did feel the Earth move below your feet. Unfortunately, watching a U certificate film at a teatime meant we had chattering kids with legs swinging into the back of your seat, but I can hardly blame Odeon for that.
Is it worth paying the extra money for isense? You pay an extra £2.50 for the privilege. Honestly, I'd save it for the one or two times a year you want the optimum experience - the next Star Wars or Bond movie perhaps. For regular movies (and they were showing 50 Shades Darker next) I can't see isense adding much, unless you want your on-screen orgasms to shake your world that much stronger!
- BH2 is Odeon’s new 10-screen cinema, replacing the ABC and Odeon cinemas on Westover Road.
- It’s largest screen is in the 340-seat iSense auditorium, which has Dolby Atmos sound using 56 individually-controlled speakers. This means that sound is not just around you, it’s over and below you.
- The screen is approx. 55 foot x 23ft.
- In the screens that have recliners there is a £2 surcharge for these seats.