The impressive new Fast & Furious: Supercharged 3D at Universal Studios Hollywood provides a stunning finale to the backlot tram tour, even if riders are ultimately left with the overwhelming feeling they’ve seen this all before.
Befitting the street-racing movie franchise, the recently opened attraction is filled with plenty of high-energy fun and nonstop action — often to the point of ridiculousness. But if you were expecting Shakespeare, you’re on the wrong tram ride.
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As part of the studio tour, the new Fast & Furious attraction is housed in an enormous 65,000-square-foot building that stretches the length of nearly three football fields. Once inside the building, the tram rolls, pitches, undulates and vibrates atop a 200-foot-long motion simulator as the action is projected onto the world’s longest 3D screen.
The new attraction replaces the tram tour’s Fast & Furious: Extreme Close-Up car stunt show, a bizarre presentation featuring two drift-racing vehicles lifted 25 feet into the air on gigantic robotic arms in an "automotive dance."
Once inside the Fast & Furious: Supercharged 3D attraction building, the action starts when a pair of tow trucks attach their grappling hooks onto the tram and take us on a 120 mph chase along Los Angeles freeways. The highlight of the attraction occurs at the climax of the film, when the tram appears to jump off a bridge and soar through the air.
During my visit to the park, I sat in the second row of the tram as the action enveloped me on a 270-degree panoramic screen. Throughout the high-definition movie, I watched with a mix of shock and awe as vehicles, debris, shrapnel and missiles collided with the tram in concert with multiple special effects, including water, mist, fire, smoke and wind.
The most impressive part of the attraction was the retractable nose screen, which allows the action to wrap around the front and both sides of the tram. The result is a fully immersive experience that will require multiple viewings to catch all the chaos. Next time I plan to try a seat closer to the middle of the tram to see what I missed on my first trip.
While the new 3D film delivers an action-packed jolt to the end of the tram tour, the setup to the attraction spends far too much time revving the engine before starting the race. For an action movie franchise, there’s certainly a lot of talking in Fast & Furious: Supercharged 3D.
The attraction’s two preshow rooms are essentially unnecessary — especially with all the video previews shown during the 45-minute tram ride. The attraction’s first scene involves little more than vehicle props paired with yet another video setup. The truly remarkable digital pepper’s ghost illusion in the second scene is wasted on a pointless party scene with even more exposition from the cast of the films.
I mean, how much do we really need to know? While I’ve never seen any of the "Fast & Furious" movies, I understand the basic premise of the ubiquitous franchise. All that really needs to be said is, “You're in the middle of a wild car chase. Go!”
One of my pet peeves about Universal Studios Hollywood is that half the attractions in the park are cleverly disguised movies set up by a seemingly endless series of shorter movies. And while all that backstory helps to kill time when you’re waiting for a ride in the park, it’s wholly unnecessary on the tram tour.
My other knock on Fast & Furious: Supercharged 3D is that the show elements are essentially identical to King Kong 360 3D, which precedes and predates the new attraction on the backlot tour. And as is often the case, the original is superior to the sequel. In a head-to-head comparison, the more intimate, intimidating and frightening Kong is the better of the two attractions.
That said, Fast & Furious: Supercharged 3D is a thrilling, fast-paced and entertaining finale to the studio tour, even if it leaves riders with a slight feeling of déjà vu.
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