Before I got to be part of Hollywood for real, the closest I got to being in the movies was Universal Studios theme parks. At the time, behind the scenes features and instructions were rare so it was educational with exhibits on special effects, sound foley and editing. Still, my favorite rides were the ones that actually put me in fictional movies. The best were Back to the Future: The Ride and Terminator 2: Battle Across Time. These ride shows featured the casts of the movies in a new story that made me part of the movie. I suppose young Franchise Fred always wanted to be in the sequel.
I could never have imagined back then that my grown-up job would be to meet every director and actor and talk to them about their movies. They don’t make rides for jobs this cool. But now that this is my life, I still appreciate the craft that goes into making visitors feel like I did. There’s an art to making the line queue feel like part of the movie while giving important safety instructions and setting up the plot. It’s also fun to play with the format we all know from decades of visiting theme parks, like when King Kong 360 drops the back of the tram down the ravine. We know everyone’s safe in real life, but it’s funny.
So it should be no surprise to learn that there won’t be a faster, more furious ride this year than Fast and Furious: Supercharged. Opening June 25 as the last stop on the Universal tram tour, Supercharged puts you in a Fast and the Furious chase scene. If you’ve been on King Kong 360, you know how it works with a 3D screen on either side of you and interactive effects that make it feel like the scene is all around you. I got a little sprayed from some of the explosions.
What’s really extraordinary is how Supercharged captures the speed of a car chase, making you feel like that clunky tram could actually keep up the pace with Dom’s Dodge Charger. The footage does not quite look photoreal, although the actors don’t look pixelated at all. Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and The Rock are front and center in all the action. But it’s a lot closer to photoreal than King Kong was and we all buy in. The racing segment evokes the sort of crazy stunts that occur in the Fast and the Furious movies, with good natured collateral damage like the T-rex and the tram. Since cool action is happening on both the left and right side, the best way to see it all is to ride it twice.
Even more important than the ride part, the buildup to the chase is true to The Fast and the Furious movies. We don’t just get to go on a high speed chase. We get invited to a car party too full of scantily clad dancing babes in pastel shorts. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) flirts with the third row while giving instructions. It’s funny to watch The Rock make up family friendly insults that still fit the Hobbs character. “Stink pickle” is a particularly memorable classic. It all begins by witnessing the stolen Charger on Wisteria Lane. I wonder if they’ll keep it there full time or will have to create a detour if another show ever shoots on that street.
Some important continuity notes for Franchise Fred. Shaw (Luke Evans) appears with no burn scar, so Supercharged is either a prequel to Furious 6 (that’s the movie’s name, don’t argue with me) or during the movie. Maybe on the day that Brian (Paul Walker) spent a night in prison to get intel from Braga (John Ortiz). That makes sense. I was also glad to see lots of clips from Fast & Furious in all the clip packages, That one never gets the love the later sequels do so maybe this’ll sell a few more DVDs.
Having been with The Fast and the Furious series from the beginning in 2001, I am thrilled to have it immortalized at Universal Studios, not that I think the movie series is in danger of ever ending. Fast & Furious Supercharged is truly the fastest, most furious ride you’ll ever ride.