Growing up, I can’t say I was a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil. When the Montreal based, highly theatrical acrobatic artists were first coming on the scene HBO in the US always ran hour long specials of some of their productions and as a teenager they were like nails on a chalkboard to me. I didn’t really get what they were going for, but they were always programmed as family entertainment. I gave them a shot several times the resigned myself to probably never thinking about them ever again or really having much of a passing interest in what was going on.
Cut to almost two decades later and the release of director Andrew Adamson and producer James Cameron making the big screen, 3D, greatest hits playlist Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, and I’m proud to say that I have changed my tune quite a bit. Overall, it’s nothing more than a really high profile demo reel for Cirque and Cameron’s beloved 3D Pace camera system, but it works quite effectively as epic scaled splendour that undeniably uses some of the best camerawork of the year that made me fully appreciate just how hard of a job being a Cirque performer and artist is without ever once peeling back the curtain to look behind the scenes at how it’s all done.
The plot is absolutely threadbare and much like a real Cirque show, it’s 99% dialogue free outside of occasional pop songs. A young woman (Erica Linz) wanders into a travelling carnival complete with its own circus lured in by the appeal of seeing a cute looking aerialist (Igor Zaripov). They lock eyes for a moment during his routine, briefly falling for each other as he literally falls into a sandy pit that opens up beneath him and she comes tumbling after. She looks for him across a variety of Cirque inspired set-ups – some of which admittedly make more sense than others – so they can be together for the final number.
Worlds Away might not be too intellectually stimulating, but it’s certainly gorgeous to look at. Adamson (the first two Narnia films, Shrek) probably didn’t have to do much in the directing department since most of these acts are set in stone to begin with, but he certainly had great instincts when it comes to knowing where to point Cameron’s impressive cameras. Far more than The Hobbit did last week, this film offers up a more viable use for modern 3D technology, and for only casual observers of the work Cirque does, it’s a wonderful primer.
From giant bugs to off the wall Beatles production numbers to an immensely impressive bit involving arrows and a moving platform, Adamson and the Cirque troop of professionals show off the best bits of magic in their arsenal in striking detail. The thrill becomes heightened the closer you get to the action. Watching it, I couldn’t help but get caught up in just how much effort it all take when you can see what’s being done in such lavish detail. It’s kind of the same thrill I got as a child on school field trips to the one giant IMAX theatre there is. Those movies didn’t have much point other than to show some cool imagery. This is the exact same as that, so moviegoers looking for actual substance and plot are advised to look elsewhere. Anyone just looking for a good show who doesn’t have the luxury of being able to afford going to a proper Cirque show needn’t look any further.