MRR Movie Review: Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

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A young couple (Erica Linz & Igor Zaripov) gets separated and must journey through the dreamlike worlds of Cirque du Soleil to find one another. Meanwhile the latest interactive 3D technology will allow audience members to leap, soar, swim, and dance along with the performers. Featuring acts from the seven shows that ran in Las Vegas during 2011.
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Movie Review: "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away"

-- Rating: PG (some dramatic images, mild sexuality)
Length: 91 minutes
Release Date: December 21, 2012
Directed by: Andrew Adamson
Genre: Fantasy

The famous Cirque du Soleil was becoming popular just as traditional circus acts with animals started to wane. The program featured humans instead of animals, who performed feats that only the most skilled and limber could possibly do. Though some saw it as a flash in the pan, the show has endured and now has several live acts in Las Vegas, many of which show up in "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away" at some point. It is a great way to see snippets of each show for those who have never had the opportunity to see any of the acts in person.

The film begins with a pretty young woman named Mia (Erica Linz), who isn't quite five feet tall, but she walks with the demeanor of someone much taller. She happens upon a circus, where she is either ignored or laughed at for her appearance. She is about to run home in tears, but one of the circus performers begs her to stay to see a handsome man known simply as the Aerialist (Igor Zaripov). Intrigued, she agrees to stay and watch him perform his act, until horror strikes. He attempts a very difficult maneuver, but he misses his cue and comes crashing to the ground. Mia runs to him, only to find the floor beneath them turning into sand. The sand sucks them both in, and they are transported to a world full of circus tents.

Mia is separated from the Aerialist and must figure out which of the tents he is in, so she can be reunited with him. Each of the tents has a different Cirque du Soleil act in it, which Mia must watch to try and gain clues as to where the Aerialist might be. Like anyone who has been fortunate enough to take in a Cirque du Soleil show, she is completely mesmerized by each act, some of which include Elvis Presley and Beatles songs. The audience will likely be hypnotized by the performances as well, to the point where they may forget about the poor Aerialist at times. Not to worry though, as director Andrew Adamson makes sure to have a satisfying conclusion for the two would-be lovers.

There have been several instances of live stage performances being filmed for release in movie theaters. The stage enactment of "Oklahoma!" starring Hugh Jackman comes to mind, which was a great success when it was released. Those types of theater shows are easier to adapt for the screen because they already have a narrative and don't feature intricate stunt work like Cirque du Soleil. There are a lot of complexities involved with bringing "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away" to the screen, but Adamson handles them all expertly. He obviously has a great rapport with the actors, who use mostly nonverbal communication to get their point across. Even though there is not a lot of dialogue, it does not take away from the film at all. In fact, it enhances what is happening on the screen because it forces the audience to pay closer attention to the physical feats of the cast.

Adamson not only directed the film but also gets credit for the screenplay. This may not seem like a big deal, as there are only a handful of lines in the entire film, but he is responsible for the narrative. Although most of the film's running time is spent showing parts of the various Cirque du Soleil shows from Las Vegas, there has to be a running storyline to keep it together, which Adamson provides. The scene with Mia disappearing into the sandy floor with the Aerialist might seem completely unrealistic, but it feels right at home in this mystical world of contortion and acrobatics. It is the initial glue that holds all the subsequent performances together, culminating in a final charming scene that brings the entire film full circle. Adamson's screenplay is the reason why this all comes together and works so well.

Arguably the best part of "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away" is that the audience does not need to book a plane ticket or a pricey hotel room in order to see a Cirque du Soleil show. They get the very best bits of seven different shows that for the price of a single movie ticket. That is a bargain that can't be beat, especially when considering that the film can also be viewed in 3D, which serves to make viewers feel like they really are at a live show. That is part of the magic of "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away" that makes it worth the price of admission.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars