At the LA Times, Kimi Yoshino recounts how Disneyland’s "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride is getting an overhaul to look more like the films it inspired, including the addition of Johnny Depp‘s Jack Sparrow character. The ride’s reopening will coincide with the release of the sequel, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." And yes, people are bitching:
Internet message boards have been in mutiny for months, with fans
debating whether Disney is taking corporate synergy and marketing too
far â€” and that’s saying a lot for a company that capitalizes on just
about every character tie-in imaginable.
Also at the LA Times, Martin J. Smith looks back fondly, we supposed, on the "Red Asphalt" films, which, if you’ve never had the pleasure, are a series put together by the California Highway Patrol to terrify young would-be Golden State drivers into never even approaching a vehicle ever again by bombarding them with real footage of death and destruction on the highways and byways. We recalls a screening of "Red Asphalt III" when we were in high school â€” it worked itself up to a crescendo of a latex-gloved medic picking someone’s brains off the pavement, but, resilient teen that we were, we were soon throttling down the freeway at 85mph on a cell phone drinking a latte with the best of them. Smith notes that we’re now on "Red Asphalt 5" (the first version came out in 1964) and that production values have risen considerably:
Back then, the images were just as unsophisticated as the narration. Accident-scene footage showed harshly lighted people standing around gawking at all forms of debris as if watching a peep show. Later versions incorporated scenes of rescue efforts to save the movies’ unfortunate stars, reflecting the evolution of emergency techniques and equipment.
"Red Asphalt V," which came out last year, features what a CHP spokesman called a "Matt Damon-type" actor who delivers the introduction and litany of statistics wearing layered shirts, jeans and a reasonably cool haircut. The makers of "Asphalt V" have borrowed from cinÃ©ma vÃ©ritÃ© to employ audiotape of a 911 emergency call and graveside testimonials. Its opening sequence might make Brian De Palma proud: A road flare is struck and hisses to life, followed by a suspenseful nighttime tracking shot in which the beam of a flashlight plays first across roadside vegetation, then finds the first hints of automotive debris, and finally illuminates a bloody victim trapped inside the metal crumple that once was a car.
And at the London Times, Kevin Maher writes "It was never supposed to be like this," and mourns that "they have that rare and fading thing â€” genuine star aura." Sadly, he’s talking about the fading of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, who in our mind are a bit like the Spanish Empire, apparently eternally in decline, (well, for Demi, at least â€” was her heyday really "Ghost"?).