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Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

2012 | 91 min | PG | 1.85:1

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away


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User reviews

1 user review

Movie appeal



Theatrical release date

 21 December, 2012
 01 February, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (native, 91 minutes)

Box office




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Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away


Screenshots from Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D Blu-ray

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, December 21, 2012

I’ll admit that I haven’t had much exposure to the various shows and individual performances of Cirque du Soleil, but it’s easy to see that their debut feature, “Worlds Away,” is little more than a commercial for the Canadian outfit. For fans, the 3D movie will be a warm reminder of previous accomplishments and current successes, returning to a place of extraordinary theatricality and flexibility as director Andrew Adamson attempts to capture an event that should really be enjoyed live. For outsiders, “Worlds Away” is an interesting experiment in self-promotion, though the attempt to build a narrative capable of connecting disparate fantasy sequences smoothly is botched, resulting in a highlight reel that grows tiring over 85 minutes of screentime.

To his credit, Adamson doesn’t simply leap from stunt to stunt, instead dreaming up the character of Mia (Erica Linz), a dowdy young woman who happens on a circus in the middle of nowhere, venturing inside out of curiosity. Discovering a collection of freaks, games, and judgmental circus patrons, Mia also finds initial attraction with a mysterious man known as the Aerialist (Igor Zaripov). Making her way to the big top for the main event, Mia watches as the show dissolves into chaos, with the ground swallowing her newfound crush, taking the Aerialist to an unknown realm. Attempting to rescue the man, Mia is sucked into the vortex as well, awakening in a strange land that’s marked by various wars, acrobatic feats, and oddity. Attempting to reunite with the Aerialist, Mia’s path is blocked by a number of complications and unhelpful mimes, trying to navigate a baffling world the best she can.

“Worlds Away” is caught between the demands of dazzling those unfamiliar to the thrills and chills of a Cirque du Soleil performance and pleasing the fanbase who’s kept the troupe in business for nearly 30 years. The director of the first two “Shrek” and “Chronicles of Narnia” pictures, Adamson has experience in the fantasy realm, writing a screenplay that’s careful to preserve the mischievous mystery of Cirque du Soleil as Mia visits numerous set-pieces. There’s a misty, surreal approach that’s imaginative, with lunar imagery a particular fascination for the helmer, while time with the performers is filled with unnerving make-up designs and ornate costuming that embellishes the physical achievements, adding to the impressive presence of the acrobats. Although it feels hopelessly stagebound on occasion, the effort manages to secure an otherworldly feel, with distinct environments for Mia to stumble into.

“Worlds Away” isn’t an original adventure for Cirque du Soleil, but a greatest hits package that burns through the more epic achievements of their history. Although the specifics of the acts are highly visual, making description nearly impossible, the highlights are familiar, including a return of the “Wheel of Death” from the show “Kooza,” and the water acrobatic elements from “O.” Additionally, a large portion of the picture is devoted to vertical battles and challenging climbs from the “Ka,” where the stage rotates and tilts in various directions, offering a wonderfully disorienting point of view for this inexplicable war between clans of angry acrobats. The sequences are awe-inspiring in their demand for strength and agility, spotlighting impressive work from the cast, who bend and flip with ease, rehearsed to pinpoint accuracy with every last move. Nevertheless, there’s no invention set aside for “Worlds Away,” with little of the movie introducing anything new to the Cirque du Soleil repertoire.

Adding to the stale atmosphere are numerous sequences culled from The Beatles show, “Love,” while a single scene is ported over from the recently closed “Viva Elvis.” The addition of recognizable tunes is pleasing, but the moments merely reinforce the commercial intent of the production, which passes over originality to display previous accomplishments. On the plus side, multiplex pricing is much more affordable than any ticket to an actual Cirque du Soleil performance. Perhaps one should consider “Worlds Away” to be the best Groupon deal of all time.

Strangely, “Worlds Away” is disappointing, despite a steady stream of contortionists, acrobats, and mimes contributing mesmerizing work that reinforces the special appeal of Cirque du Soleil. The shine wears off in the second half of the movie, when it becomes clear there’s no substantial narrative (the love story is poorly defined and cold to the touch) and awareness of repetition sinks in. It’s more of a starter kit than a defining motion picture experience for Cirque du Soleil, and while it’s visually attractive and offers plenty of gasp-worthy moments, the overall impact of the feature is alarmingly minimal.

Starring: Erica Linz, Igor Zaripov, Dallas Barnett
Director: Andrew Adamson

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