In Macao, the casinos reign tall. On the main island where the International Film Festival & Awards Macao [IFFAM] was held at the Macao Cultural Center, the Grand Lisboa Hotel reaches up with the visage of a gold flower in the middle of the island. Nearby the newer Wynn property reflects with the same majesty of Vegas. But this is not Vegas. Go over the bridge and one enters different regions of the second island of Macao. Located within this space is the small region of Cotai, which reflects like an amped up version of The Strip. Everything seems bigger but with distinct differences. Big production shows are not touted as much as say Vegas. There are no billboards like Vegas. There is a crisp and cleanliness to Cotai. Within this auspice and the hospitality of the film festival, three attractions within certain casinos came to be perceived.
The House Of Dancing Water (City Of Dreams) Like Le Reve at The Wynn in Las Vegas (a show which was also created by Franco Dragone), the essence of water is a truism. The story here, realized inside a custom made theater inside the City Of Dreams property, definitely reflects this region of the world in terms of style and texture. The essence of a boat master who finds his way into a magical world and must help a couple torn apart find each other makes for some interesting visuals. Created basically in the round but with a depth of field, new computer graphics help push the kinds of stories that make shows like O so undeniable. While different feats of acrobatics are on display, it is the almost flying textures from the rafters that truly surprise. At one point, would-be sprites weave in and out of a suspended cage. Humor also plays a part with a clown type figure as well as a wise men (who almost seemed Senegalese) who was a contortionist by trade. His reveal from a backpack in one instance is astounding. The only element that seemed out of place slight was a motor bike piece which while thrilling and definitely elicited great screams of delights from the younger members of the crowd, it pushed forward the narrative only one notch while the others kept in direct time with the story and tone. Nevertheless the climax of the show delivered with sense of the fantastic but also represented in the mythic.
Batman: Dark Flight 4D (Studio City) Hidden within the Studio City property at the far end of the Cotai strip, this ride definitely ups the ante but unlike at times many rides in the States, this one allows for a darker tone. The essence of the Joker and Batman here definitely uses more of a texture of the art from “The Killing Joke”. Basically you are recruited by Batman after the Joker tries to take out a building. The Bat shepherds you via an escape elevator into his lair where you are given access to your own Batwing (along with other riders). The action takes places within an IMAX type screen as you chase Joker and Harley Quinn through the skies of Gotham and towards the edge of the water of the port (which creates a parallel to “The Dark Knight Rises”) . the entire adventure is set at night which gives it a dark foreboding feeling. The pre-show also integrates some advanced hologram technology but using animated characters (instead of filmed human characters) which hasn’t been done in newer ride save for “Wizarding World” at Universal Orlando (as well as Hollywood) so this is definitely ahead of the curve.
Golden Wheel (Studio Cíty) Also within the Studio City property located over the cusp of large garden area is this unique Ferris wheel of sorts which is literally built into the building. After taking an elevator up to a floor in the 20s, riders enter a gondola that seems something akin to Jules Verne. But it is the path that the gondolas take that is unique and cool. It literally crawls up the side of the wall and creeps through into a figure 8 motion until you are at the very top. The view is an interesting panorama of both new construction towards the shoreline including a big dome while on the other side of the gondola is wetland with some other areas being cleared for further development. The ride itself is only 12 minutes and the rider stands over part of a glass floor but once the rider is used to it, the sensation can be breathtaking.
By Tim Wassberg