Before I start the review, I have to preface it by saying that Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away is not a traditional movie. Worlds Away is more of an enhanced version of their stage shows, despite what the trailers may have insinuated. Just throwing that out there.
Cirque du Soleil is known for their elaborate performances, beautiful costumes, and technical prowess, but can they carry that steam into a feature film? The “plot” of Worlds Away follows Mia (Erica Linz) as she visits Circus Marvelous, a small lackluster circus. In the midst of the sideshow freaks, sad clowns, and contortionists, one man catches Mia’s eye, The Arialist (Igor Zaripov). After a brief, meaningful glance, she goes to see him perform. He starts off well, but becomes distracted by Mia and slips! Don’t worry folks, things turn out alright. He lands on the dirt/sand floor of the circus tent and slips into a magic portal. Mia sees him being sucked into this portal and immediately jumps in after him. Classic love story, right? So begins the Cirque du Soleil adventure, where Mia and The Arialist struggle to find each other.
Cirque du Soleil usually has a single character in their show who is on a journey, guided by the performers. Mia becomes this traveler for the film, leading us from one set to another. While you may not be getting an actual plot, you’re still seeing Cirque du Soleil. They’re famous for a reason. Worlds Away is loaded with a number of unbelievable acts, each surpassing the previous. Whether it’s a metal ship that’s suspended in the air, an enormous propeller, or a faux city, Worlds Away always finds a way to show off their precise abilities.
No doubt, Worlds Away is visually stunning, using every visible aspect to its advantage. Light and shadow play heavily into the scenes, morphing the worlds around the actors. Relying on CGI only to show the fantasy-world outside of the tents, most of the imagery comes from well executed cinematography. One problem with actually watching this movie would be the 3D. Granted, 3D has been utilized by many films to enhance the experience. I’m not sure where Worlds Away falls on the scale of good and bad 3D movies. If it had been shot normally, it wouldn’t have been as immersive, but the 3D was nearly painful at times. The best example I can give would be the opening scene: Mia is standing on a road, looking towards the circus. She is clearly the focus of the shot, but the 3D creates a blurry fence in the foreground, crystal clear trees slightly behind Mia, blurred cars going by, and a perfectly clear background. There’s SO much going on in the shot, I had to look away. My eyes simply couldn’t take in all of the stark contrasts. Thankfully, that’s the worst time it occurs in the movie, but it’s certainly not the last. These moments are sprinkled throughout the film; if you’re sensitive to 3D, this movie isn’t for you.
Music is normally the center of inspiration for the Las Vegas shows of Cirque and Worlds Away is no different. The music ranges from symphony pieces to The Beatles, mostly genres that have been used in their shows before. While the music doesn’t always seem to be related with the act you’re seeing, it never detracts anything from the scene. While I may not be rushing out to buy the soundtrack, the music is a good companion to the massive amount of eye candy.
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away has a rather large problem: It’s really no different than seeing one of their shows in Vegas. I understand that the cost of tickets to the movie would be monumentally cheaper than seeing them in person, but it makes me wonder if either are worth it. If you’re a fan of the Cirque or have never seen them before, you will leave Worlds Away a happy customer. But, if you’re looking for anything more than a show or if you’re not particularly fascinated by Cirque du Soleil, you should probably sit this one out. I, for one, wouldn’t pay the jacked up ticket cost to see Worlds Away in 3D at a theater.
Worlds Away is an interesting piece of film, trying to be both a movie and a filmed live act. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite accomplish either and is awkwardly left inbetween. Not to say that any of the feats that are performed are anything less than spectacular, but as a film, Worlds Away isn’t the best. It feels like the Vegas show, but inflated with some more confusing Cirque du Soleil style. Is this film worth watching once or twice? Sure. Is it worth spending $15 per person to see it the theater? Not quite.
I give Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 2.5 “Mystery Boxes” out of 5
By Blake Edwards