As far as circuses go, if you’ve only ever been exposed to the traditional three-ring variety in your life, you’ve been missing out on the story-telling ability and incredible production values of Cirque du Soleil. While you won’t find anyone taming tigers or riding elephants into the big top or stage shows of Cirque du Soleil, you will find a vast array of talented performers taking acts you may have seen in the past to a whole new level. Now you have the chance to experience Cirque du Soleil for the first time on the big screen with CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY 3D, which is probably your cheapest route to seeing some pretty amazing feats, while also giving you a seat closer to the action than ever before, which is both a benefit and a detriment to seeing the circus in such a way.
WORLDS AWAY starts with a simple love story of a pixie-ish woman named Mia (Erica Linz) who ventures into the fairgrounds of a traveling circus and is drawn at first sight to the trapeze artist known simply as the Aerialist (Igor Zaripov). When this attraction causes the Aerialist to lose focus during his high-flying act, sending him crashing down to and through the ground into this bizarre world of Cirque performers, Mia gives chase, hoping to find and rescue the Aerialist from captivity with the power of love from this strange new place.
WORLDS AWAY serves as a greatest hits of sorts from various Cirque shows – O, Ka, Mystere, Viva Elvis, Believe, Zumanity and The Beatles Love – making for some wide-ranging exposure to the very different approaches to performance that the company takes. However, because they are so stylistically different, they don’t seem to mesh so well for the underlying story about true love. There’s not much transition between them, as Mia just wanders between the numerous big tops in this alternate world, moving systematically between O and Ka and so on and so forth. It would have been more compelling to see those different shows integrated a bit more, as it would have prevented the film from feeling so segmented. If you want to tell a story, then those styles should gel together into one unified world of Cirque; if just showcasing the various Cirque performances is the way you want to go, then just drop the story element. But trying to have it both ways makes for a bit of a disjointed films at times.
However, I couldn’t possibly say enough about how visually impressive WORLDS AWAY truly is. Director Andrew Adamson, with a little help from James Cameron, has managed to capture the talents of these performers with stunning beauty. There may be a couple of instances of overshooting at times (there’s an act that takes place on a vertical wall that is shown from so many angles that it becomes quite difficult to know which way is up and who is who), but Adamson goes to great lengths to show you just how unique these people are, be it a trampoline act of superheroes defying gravity to some Elvis or a man’s constantly changing relationship with a spinning cube.
If there is one knock on watching Cirque du Soleil in this way, it’s that the film lacks the wonder and amazement of seeing these sometimes dangerous but often awe-inspiring acts in-person. Sure, you get even better than the best seat in the house here, but there’s something about seeing a woman being supported solely by the neck of her partner 40 feet in the air as he holds onto straps for the both of them live that cannot be duplicated by watching it in a gorgeous slow-motion close-up on screen. There’s a little something lost in the translation.
If you’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil show in the past, and would like a taste of the smorgasbord of other shows they have to offer, then CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY 3D is right up your alley. The visuals are fantastic, and you get a little bit of a lot of Cirque without having to pay top dollar for each individual show. However, remember… there’s no substitute for seeing Cirque in-person.
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