the bourne stuntacular

Stunt peformers rarely get their due in Hollywood, but Universal Studios Orlando is giving these acrobatic artists their time to shine with The Bourne Stuntacular show, a new stunt show which replaces the long-running Terminator 2 3D: Battle Across Time. The theme park held the soft opening for the show this week, giving guests a peek at the technical rehearsals, where the live actors showed off their balletic stunts and interacted with stunning live effects and projection-mapping LED screens. You can watch video from these rehearsals below.

The Bourne Stuntacular Show

The Bourne Stuntacular takes the place of Terminator 2 3D: Battle Across Time, which closed a few years ago, and also combined live actors and live effects with screen elements. But it’s clear that The Bourne Stuntacular is the next step in the evolution of stunt shows.

From the above video, which takes us through the entire half-hour show, guests line up in a (socially distanced) queue to view images and props from the Bourne films, which starred Matt Damon as the titular amnesiac assassin. The Mini Cooper from The Bourne Identity and the motorcycle from The Bourne Ultimatum are both on display in the queue. Then guests catch the pre-show on a giant screen, which features Jason Bourne’s main ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) giving a briefing to agents who will be taking part in new “enhanced virtual surveillance” inside an “observation room.”

Once guests enter this observation room — which consists of a massive LED screen background that measures 3,640-square feet at 130-feet wide and 28-feet tall, behind a giant moving stage — it becomes immediately clear that The Bourne Stuntacular will live up to its somewhat ridiculous name. Combining the LED screen’s cutting-edge technology which, according to Universal includes “automated vehicle tracking systems, pinpoint-accurate projection mapping, and more,” with the real practical props, effects, and sets, The Bourne Stuntacular puts on a seamless action-packed show where you can’t tell the difference between what’s practical and what’s virtual.

The effects on LED screen are stunningly realistic, blending in perfectly with the eight moving set pieces of the show, which range from a three-wheeled motorcycle, a tower in a Tangier marketplace, and a skyscraper in Dubai. It makes for some jaw-dropping set-pieces, including one chase scene that revolves nearly 180 degrees and plays out in slow-motion. The stunts are incredible too, with energetic fight choreography and at least two high free-falls in the show — one from 22 feet — as well as lots of Jason Bourne hanging from wrecking balls. While it’s impressive (and a little scary) how much the stunt actor playing Bourne hangs from the ceiling, it does highlight the weaknesses in the story, which is a pretty barebones plot involving a corrupt U.S. senator. Here is how it’s officially described in Universal’s press release:

The Bourne Stuntacular will follow the character of Jason Bourne around the globe as sinister characters pursue him. Everything fans have come to expect from the action-packed Bourne film franchise – thrilling chase scenes, punishing fistfights, death-defying leaps and danger at every turn – will happen right in front of guests with live performers, high-tech props and an immense LED screen, making it impossible to discern where the live action ends and the cinema begins.

The attraction is much more family-friendly than the Bourne films ever were, and the show definitely goes out of its way to appeal to the mixed audience who fills a theme park auditorium. But it is a stunning feat of practical and virtual showmanship that can even appeal to those who have no vested interest in theme park shows.

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