Empire Vs. Transformers: The Ride-3D
Posted on Monday May 28, 2012, 17:31 by Ali Plumb in Empire States
Say what you like about Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise – and God knows you will – but even the most highfalutin' critic would find it hard to claim that the action sequences aren’t spectacular. So when you hear that Transformers has finally been turned into a theme park attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, your immediate question is... why didn’t they do it before? Well, because I'm always willing to leap in front of a bullet, I went over to Los Angeles to find out. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.
“You’re the second person to ask me that today!” says showrunner Chick Russell. “I think one of the reasons it wasn’t done sooner was that we were waiting for the right technologies to be developed to make it happen. When you’re doing something like Transformers, the Autobots and the Decepticons are so huge, so you want to make sure you can put them on the right scale. Second of all, there’s so much action, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a ride system that can deliver all that, and thanks to the likes of Industrial Light and Magic, we developed things like a ride vehicle that actually lets you feel G-forces.”
I’m speaking to the man behind the ‘3D high-definition video and audio-animatronics experience’ on its official premiere day, just a few steps away from bank of photographers who have been snapping the likes of Steven Spielberg, Judd Apatow and, of course, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.
Both Autobots could be described as athletic men in 10-foot-tall plastic suits – that cost around about $100,000 a piece, by the way – but as far as the crowds of journalists and opening day attendees are concerned, they’re the real deal, high-fiving fans and waving at excitable Chinese TV show hosts.
But one man you might expect to be here is missing – and that man is Michael Bay. Busy shooting his latest film, the less robotic, more muscle-bound endeavour Pain & Gain
, he sends his greetings via a brief video message on a specially mounted big screen, introduced by General Morshower himself (Glenn Morshower in the flesh) and the vehicle versions of Bumblebee and Optimus Prime.
An elaborate and explosion-filled set-piece follows, with NEST soldiers abseiling down the nearby Jurassic Park – The Ride and Revenge Of The Mummy buildings before fireworks shoot into the sky and ticker tapes blast across the throng of Tranformers fans. The ‘battle for the All-Spark’ is over and we get on with the actual business of riding the actual ride. Hoorah!
But before I discuss what the attraction is like, a word of warning: like T2 3-D: Battle Across Time and Shrek 4-D before it, Transformers: The Ride-3D is a definitive part of the Transformers
film franchise, so if you want to avoid spoilers, here’s the one word review: it’s good. So good, in fact, that it’s hard to describe the “again, again!” feeling you get at the end of riding it without sounding a little insincere. I really did enjoy it very much, and so did the rest of the attendees I spoke to afterwards.
The plot, for what it’s worth, sees you riding transportation Transformer 'Evac' as he makes his way through Manhattan to take the All-Spark into safety. As such, it echoes the end of first Transformers, except it’s night-time in a different city, and our Megan and that Shia fella aren’t anywhere to be seen.
In fact, human characters are non-existent: it’s just you and your team of fellow “recruits” sitting in a 12-man rollercoaster cart, experiencing the onslaught of everything Michael Bay, state of the art 3D, 20 foot high screens and polymorphic (and remarkably well-armed) vehicles can offer.
As you drive through New York Megatron comes along to spoil the fun (of course!), with Bumblebee and Optimus Prime defending you against the Decepticons’ attacks. Over the course of the struggle you’re slung through two office buildings – perhaps a ride highlight – catapulted off a skyscraper and snapped at by everyone’s least favorite motor-mouthed mini-robot, Frenzy.
The action is fantastic, the immersion extraordinary – just wait until one of Megatron’s rockets ‘explodes’ in your face and a heat blast follows – but perhaps what I’m happiest about is the lack of, well, anything other than action. Bar Frenzy’s brief appearance, there’s no Transformers silliness: no giant robot testicles, no gags about dogs “lubricating” on people’s feet, no extended speeches about the impossibilitude of the situation... just full-on, undeniable fun – whether you like, love or loathe the films, in fact.
If you’re looking for flaws, those who have been on Universal Orlando Resort’s The Amazing Adventures Of Spider-Man ride will notice a few similarities: the frantic pace, the New York setting, being slung about a cityscape. But even bearing that in mind, it’s a breathless blast of action that’s nigh-on impossible not to enjoy. Honestly. Plus, at no point does Shia LaBeouf say, “No, no, no, no, no, no!”
, which is a definite yes.
Want to see for yourself? Here be the details...
3 nights in Los Angeles
Three nights in Los Angeles with Virgin Holidays, including scheduled flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow direct to Los Angeles, accommodation at the 4V Sheraton Universal Resort on a room only basis with transfers and unlimited Universal Studios Hollywood pass included starts from £779. Prices are per person based on 2 adults travelling and sharing a standard room, price includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Prices are based on departures 08 – 22 Nov 2012.
Virgin Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected
To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk , 0844 557 3859 or visit one of our 90 stores located in Debenhams and House of Fraser stores nationwide.