San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

VIP Movie Theater Offers Sushi, Liquor Service

MOVIE tickets: check. Popcorn:check. Soft drinks: check. Milkduds:check. Sushi: check.Sushi?Welcome to Cinépolis at TerraMall inTres Ríos, east of San José, where you caneat sticky-rice rolls-ups and raw fish fromthe other side of the world right beforewatching 5th-century Saxons battlingRoman knights in King Arthur.This daring merger of posh comfort andpopcorn blockbusters, found in Cinépolis’VIP theater, also offers Italian-style coffee,a pricey bar, wait-staff in the theaters andfaux-leather recliners that are so comfortablethey threaten to put you to sleep.OF course, none of these amenities arefree, and tickets for the VIP area cost abouttwice as much as tickets for the regularscreens, clocking in at ¢3,200 ($7.17).Pile on top of that a ¢1,800 ($4) sushiserving, a couple ¢2,000 ($4.48) cocktailsand a ¢1,300 ($2.91) beer in the theater andyou start to feel like a very important personindeed.But if you’re looking to drop some cashand pamper yourself and a friend, the VIPtheater can be quite an experience.To start with, it is entirely separate fromthe normal screens, complete with its ownticket counter, its own door guards and theappropriate velvet ropes guiding patrons tothe entrance.Moviegoers can choose from three differentflicks: Currently running are “KingArthur,” “Man on Fire,” and “TheTerminal.”A PURCHASED ticket allowsentrance to an exclusive food court and abar. Along with the obligatory popcorn andnachos, there’s a sushi counter, a bagettesandwich counter and a cappuccino station.The lounge area is quite nice and madeup of four cushy couches arranged in asquare. The rest of the long, narrow foodcourt is spotted with wooden tables and“No Smoking” signs.Strangely enough, the lounge area doesn’tseem to lend itself too well to lounging.With an hour until show time on Saturdaynight, the bar still wasn’t ready to servedrinks and the place seemed a little empty.The rest of the food court staff waslooking bored, but ready to serve. Weordered maki tampico rollo from the sushicounter and took in the atmosphere whilewe waited for the food.UNFORTUNATELY, part of theatmosphere was a giant television showinga video of an African crocodile swallowinga goat – not really something you want towatch while you’re waiting for sushi.That aside, the maki tampico, whichturned out to be crab and avocado wrappedin a layer of sticky rice, was quite tasty, if alittle mild. Ten pieces for ¢1,800 ($4)seemed a fair price.Also, a post-sushi espresso shot fromthe cappuccino stand was extremely enjoyable.Made with Costa Rican coffee beans,it seemed much smoother than averageespresso.Moving along to the other end of thelounge, the bar was finally ready to mixdrinks. The menu featured a great varietyof liquors, as well as cocktails and beer.Various vodkas, whiskeys and rums wereall in attendance, along with a few differenttypes of brandy and cognac.Everything was about twice as expensiveas it would be in a normal bar, whichmay be half the fun of being a VIP. It mightalso have explained why there were farmore people in the theater itself than hadmade use of the food court.ONCE we made it into the theater, thetrailers were already rolling and the placelooked packed. Seating consisted of armchairs(complete with foot rests) joined inpairs, with plenty of space for waiters towalk up and down the rows.It’s a good setup for couples, but notlarge groups who want to sit together. Andalthough the seating was comfortable, thescreen itself left a little something to bedesired. The sound was good, but therewere four hair-thin, vertical lines throughthe middle of the picture that stayed for theduration of the film.Thankfully, the lines were less noticeable after the waiter had brought us a few beers, which were served inenormous glass mugs and cost ¢1,300 ($2.91) apiece.AFTER the movie, it would have been nice to head back to thelounge and rehash the movie over a second serving of sushi, but theushers herded us out a different exit and that was the end of our VIPstatus.All in all, the VIP theater seems like a fun and unique thing to doonce or twice, or if you’re a particularly liberal spender. But the atmosphereneeds work. The carpet is a hideous shade of movie-theater blueand the food counters tend to remind one of airport concessions.Still, it’s an experience uniquely its own in the San José area anddefinitely worth a try.For more info, call 278-4641 or 278-4730.

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