If you've ever wondered what those digitally transmitted theater performances that play at your local cinema are like, now is your chance. Director Andrew Adamson (Shrek 2, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) and executive producer James Cameron have pulled a trick to lure regular movie-going audiences to theaters to watch a stage production of Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away - by adding glossy camerawork and 3D effects. The result is exactly what you'd expect: a good show, but one that is best watched live.
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away is a hodgepodge of creative sequences thrown together to loosely resemble a cohesive story about a young woman who is drawn into a mystical world to find a cute circus performer, because circus performers make the best mates. As time goes on, the movie turns into a Beatles musical.
To call Cirque du Soleil a movie is generous, however. It barely has a plot, and only a few lines of dialogue. The so-called story literally takes elements from seven different Vegas shows, so to call it a hodgepodge is accurate. Despite its close-up shots and 3D effects, it is still a film shot in a performance hall.
Having never seen a Cirque du Soleil show in person, it was impressive to see some of the acclaimed stunts and sequences in action. A musical number shot on a swinging ship has some incredible gymnastic moves; a fight sequence on a tilting platform also stands out. Many of the sequences are captivating.
To a degree. Cirque du Soleil is known for its creative sequences and aerial stunts. The creativity put into the show - or really, shows - exudes through every pore of the film, but the aerial stunts suffer from being part of such a polished product. You know the performances are going to be flawless, that the performers flying around high above the stage aren't going to miss a beat - or worse. With lives shows, there is always a risk that a performer is going to make a mistake; Worlds Away eliminates that possibility.
In some of the less elaborate sequences, I also found my mind wandering. At 90 minutes, the movie doesn't feel long, but it's a long time to watch a "movie" that doesn't have much purpose other than to treat the eyes.
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away puts on a good show, but it is still a show. And shows are meant to be watched live.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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