Sunday, February 11, 2007

Shattuck Cinemas

2230 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 464-5980

Review by: Nick C. from Home Theater Forum 02/11/07

With 10 screens, this used to be the premiere mini-plex for art house and limited releases in the east/south bay, but competition in the south bay and across the bridge in San Francisco have surpassed their selection, and more importantly, viewing experience.

Because the Landmark chain operates several theaters in the area, and with competition, one may not find all the exclusive artfare, but it's a decent intermediary between high brow and blockbuster (the largest Hollywood tentpole usually shows down the block at the UA Berkeley 7).

Two large screens in the back, small and smaller screens otherwise. Don't arrive late or sit in the back, you'll have far from optimal viewing experiences in the small theaters. As far as I can recall, there are no stairs to worry about (aside from the two large screens which feature a second level of seats), which is conducive for movement for the elderly/disabled, but also meaning you're relying on the shallow seat placement slope and short audiences to enable sight lines.

Sound is also subpar, which can dramatically diminish even artfare which rely on moving orchestral soundtracks; walls are thin and don't isolate particularly well.

Neat postcard/pens/mementos and cardboard movie advertisement/posters line the main hall way, and some of the decor (one of the larger screens is decorated with wallpaper/moldings bearing an Egyptian theme) are attractive features of the theater.

On the negative end, seats are very aged and uncomfortable, several times I've found my sensitive rear subjected to springs protected by millimeter thin upholstery that are ready to pop out at any moment; seats are all fixed armrest with some reclining.

Hygiene is something to be lacking, on two separate occasions I've seen rats/mice scuttering in the theater aisles, not to mention tiny and dirty toilet stalls/urinals in the men's room.

Needless to say, I've never bought more than sealed candy from the food vendor counter there. The ticket booth accepts credit cards, so no need to be forced to pay ATM fees.

Finally, as for transportation, the theater is located in the urban downtown area of Berkeley (convenient for shopping/eating nearby), so free parking can be difficult to find unless you're willing to walk several blocks. There are several pay lots within a few blocks distance, but if possible, I'd recommend public transport in the form of BART (subway/train system), since the downtown Berkeley stop is only a block away from the theater.

Cinema Grade = F

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