FAQ About Time Travel #1: Why?

princechasWhy did it take me so long to visit the Prince Charles Cinema? I must have passed it dozens of times, located as it is right between Leicester Square and Chinatown. Having finally got around to visiting it, I love it. See, call me strange, but I like my places of entertainment slightly timewarped. I like music venues with sticky floors, pubs with actual carpets and, in the case of the Prince Charles, cinemas with a huge auditorium.

It’s not a picture palace like the Odeon in Richmond or the Granada in Tooting (now a bingo hall, but still). It’s more the sort of cinema you got once the novelty of moving pictures had worn off, but before the multiplex was invented. Put it this way, there’s a quote outside saying that Quentin Tarantino considers the Prince Charles to be the spiritual home of Kill Bill. To sum up, this is a cinema from the world that Grindhouse was a love letter to. There’s a tiny box office and a grainy screen and you can pay to sit upstairs or downstairs. The seats are huge, luxuriously-padded things in red.

Tickets are pretty cheap – we paid £5 for ours. The movies they show at the Prince Charles are usually the slightly older ones, not exactly the major blockbusters of the hour. But hey, you want a cheap night out in the West End, it’s a fine place to go. We combined it with a visit to the Chandos just off Trafalgar Square, a Sam Smith’s pub where it is possible to drink until you can no longer walk for less than £20.

So anyway, on the subject of timewarps, we saw this film at the suggestion of a friend:


We are no longer friends with that person. It may seem a little redundant to review a film that’s not even in the regular cinema any more (at least, I don’t think it is, but I’d never heard of it before the outing was suggested, so who knows?). But I really was upset about having seen that film.

As you can see, one of the poster quotes describes this film as “Dr Who meets Shaun of the Dead!” Which is true. The science fiction elements feel like a bad copy of Doctor Who, the characters, setting and dialogue feel like a bad copy of Shaun of the Dead (there’s even a running joke involving a jukebox). The story is that three guys go to the pub, meet a time-travelling Anna Faris and discover a leak in the space-time continuum that propels them through time. There are various unexplored plot points, some internally inconsistent logic, a villain who appears from nowhere and disappears, some feeble and not-followed-through attempts at characterisation. Also, for some reason, the main character ends up with Anna Faris, which given that he’s a socially inept sci-fi obsessive who’s known her for a total of maybe an hour, I found far less likely than the concept of time travel.

That’s the trouble. It didn’t really work on any level. It wasn’t funny enough to get away with its lack of originality. It wasn’t original enough to get away with its not-very-funny script (the gags were more on an “Oh yeah, I suppose that’s funny” level than a laugh-out-loud one). And the characters didn’t feel like lovable losers so much as just plain losers.

So anyway, if anyone invites you to see this film, I suggest you stab them in the head.

In unrelated news:

Mad propz to my homeboy Shoinan: http://thegamereviews.com/article-1333-VBG-Morris-Dancing-Rearmed.html


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Filed under Buildings and architecture, Film and TV, Geography, London, Rambling on and on, Soho, West End

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