Had I been blindfolded and taken to the AMC launch at Toronto Life Square, the new building on the north side of Yonge-Dundas Square, on Wednesday, March 26, I’d have sworn I’d been kidnapped and plunked in one of those auto-infested megaplexes in burbland.
Floor covered with cheesy lines from bygone blockbusters.
Speakers at the opening touted their project as a saviour of a downtown core suffering decay, seedy shops and crime.
Sure, Yonge-Dundas Square, despite its granite bleakness, manages to collect crowds and generate some spirit from time to time. But for people attending events there, the sight of the mundane edifice on the north side is disturbing.
What a wonderful escape this will be for suburban youth bored by the homogeneity of their limited local entertainment options. They can leave behind the sprawling Odeons, Montanas, East Side Marios and Best Buys of Scarborough or Etobicoke and visit downtown’s AMC, Milestone’s, Jack Astor’s and Future Shop.
You’re right. Sarcasm doesn’t translate well in print, but replicating bigbox entertainment venues doesn’t translate into awe-inspiring city development either.
The one comfort is that AMC seats are luxurious, and the floors aren’t sticky yet!
Back in the AMC lobby, which is notably lacking in flair despite the quotes on the floor (stuff like “Smokin’,” from Jim Carrey in The Mask) and actor portraits on the ceiling (Humphrey Bogart, Halle Berry), Astors and Milestones are busy doling out free food engineered to be just salty enough to make you want more signature drinks.
To its credit, the AMC is functionally pleasant. The seats are ample and do that nice reclining thing. They have snuggle-friendly armrests that tuck away when you’re ready to get to first base. The screens are huge, which will satisfy those still laughing at the old Eaton Centre theatres.
I have no doubt this place will succeed with hordes of people wanting to catch a flick after work. In the mornings, AMC’s theatres will double as lecture halls for Ryerson students. Not a bad idea – but how can they take notes without those pullout desks?
The forgettable lobby channels spirit of an aging charity casino.
But while enjoying the city’s biggest outdoor advertising space, TL Square took no effort to make this part of the Yonge-Dundas distinct.
Cinnabon is poised to make the place smell like every other mall in town, and if you were worried, fear not, there will be a Bubble Tease. In the interest of variety, you can have a coffee from Starbucks, Tim Hortons (it’s really been there all along) or Timothy’s! Funky independent cafés, where are you?
I wonder how Toronto Life feels about the place. Its name is on it, but I’d like to read its ratings of the food-selling tenants. Will Made in Japan get best sushi? Best souvlaki at Pita Village? Doubt it.
Thankfully, you’ll find a more authentic Toronto at the eastern edge of Yonge-Dundas Square – when you come down from the LED trip to the north.