Armageddon – Les Effets Speciaux (Special Effects)
As you might have guessed from the title, this attraction is about movie special effects in general and specifically about the 1998 Touchstone movie Armageddon.
On display outside the attraction is the drilling machine Armadillo. This was the actual prop used in the movie to bore into the impending asteroid.
The adventure begins inside Studio 7-A.
Your first stop is the preshow. Via film clips, you are introduced to the works of legendary French film maker Georges MÃ©liÃ¨s, the creator of many early special effects.
Following this tribute, a second video is shown, showcasing well-known special effects from some of our favorite movies of the last century. A close observer will notice that an inordinate amount of this footage is from Disney films. As the movie climaxes, Michael Clarke Duncan, one of the stars of the movie Armageddon, appears on screen. He presents a very high-level explanation of some of the special effects used in the movie Armageddon and sets the mood for the adventure to come.
The entire preshow is presented in French with English subtitles.
When the preshow concludes, you exit this room and proceed to the main attraction, a Russian space station. As you enter the craft, you are struck by an array of computers, lights, hoses, and instrumentation. Everyone gathers around the circular room and then the doors are closed and sealed. After a few safety announcements, the director yells “Action” and the set comes alive.
As the lights dim, you can hear com-chat in both Russian and English. Viewing screens open and it soon becomes apparent that a number of small meteors are on a collision course with your ship. As the particles begin to pummel your vessel, mayhem ensues. The floor starts to shake and sparks begin to fly. Then one of the walls of your craft is punctured and vast amounts of steam are sucked out into space. A pipe breaks and everyone is sprayed with liquid. All the while the ceiling keeps dropping, inch by inch. To add excitement, these events are accented by loud noises. Then everything goes dark. For a moment you think you might survive. Then all of a sudden a massive explosion erupts from the middle of the ship.
When everything calms down, the lights come up and the doors open. As you exit the building, you pass by a number of movie props.
If Disney still used ticket books, I’d give this attraction a “C” coupon (maybe a “D” if I was feeling very generous). It’s exciting, but I wouldn’t call this a first-class event. The preshow lasts about twelve minutes and the space station segment is about five. This attraction is NOT suitable for small children who are easily frightened.
Moteurs”¦ Action! Stunt Show Spectacular
“Moteurs”¦ Action! Stunt Show Spectacular” is basically the same attraction as the “Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. And as you might already know, it opened in Paris first.
The basic premise is the same for both shows. You are witness to a filming of an action packed stunt sequence involving good guys and bad guys and cars and motorcycles. Since the shows are so similar, I’m only going to discuss the variations.
The first difference is in the queue. While walking passed the garages, the interior is far more visible through the various windows. The cars and mechanics are in plain sight and you can see them working on the vehicles.
This attraction is sponsored by Opel Automobiles. (Opel cars are used as the stunt vehicles here and in Florida.) When you enter the stadium, a number of current models are on display in the main arena.
While you’re waiting for the show to begin, a stunt motorcyclist entertains the crowd.
The arena is almost identical to its Florida cousin. It’s kind of spooky how similar they are.
The show is presented in both French and English. Two “directors” alternate with explanations of the events unfolding before you.
About 15 “extras” are selected from the audience and used in a portion of the show. I can’t say they do much, but they are directed to run from one spot of the arena to another.
The segment of a car riding on two wheels is not part of the chase scene in Paris. Instead, it’s simply a stunt performed for the audience.
First, one car drives out on stage, rides up the incline ramp, then travels across the arena on two wheels. After returning to all four, the vehicle circles around to the starting point and is joined by a second car. This time both cars position themselves in this precarious manner and travel across the arena. Once again, they return to normal, circle back, and are joined by a third car to perform the stunt once more in triplicate.
I actually like this better than the Florida version. It allows you to concentrate on the stunt and not be distracted by other events.
Another thing I like about the Paris show is that they don’t try to hide the air cushion that the car lands on after flying off of the top of a truck. It’s in plain view and it’s interesting to see it deflate as the vehicle hits it.
Okay everyone. I’m just the messenger here. Remember, don’t kill the messenger.
Instead of selecting a child to drive the remote control car, a woman is chosen – and many jokes about women drivers are bandied about.
Other than what I’ve mentioned here, the two shows are pretty much the same. The identical footage is used on the overhead screen. Herbie makes an appearance. A stunt man jumps off of a building and a motorcyclist crashes through a window. And of course, cars go flying through the air.
That finishes the Backlot. In my next blog I’ll be discussing Toon Studio.