LITTLE ROCK Thanks to their training, discipline and imaginations, the folks behind Cirque du Soleil regularly make something beautiful and awe-inspiring out of activities that usually break bones. Because these men and women do with their bodies what George Lucas and Peter Jackson can do with computers, the Canadian company would seem a natural for the big screen.
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D isn’t a custom offering. It’s more of a greatest hits collection. While there have been some accommodations for the cameras, Worlds Away often plays more like a teaser for the numerous stage shows than a work intended to stand on its own.
Worlds Away begins with a shabby but serviceable framing device. A shy young woman named Mia (Erica Linz) visits the not-so-magnificent Circus Marvelous and becomes enamored of the show’s top attraction, The Aerialist (Igor Zaripov).
He seems to like her, too. During a routine performance, he stares at her and falls to the ground. Instead of dying, The Aerialist seems to have turned the whole floor of the big top into quicksand. The ground winds up sucking him and Mia into a strange underground where the stunts, costumes and staging are consistently spectacular and occasionally breathtaking.
Director Andrew Adamson (the first two Shrek and Narnia movies) is an old hand with digital special effects, but he uses them sparingly this time. He removes wires that might be visible during the stage shows but pretty much leaves the acrobats to do their thing. As a result, a battle on an incline looks even more precarious, and watching two men climbing in and out of what look like hamster wheels seems even more dangerous.
Adamson, working with some support from 3-D advocate James Cameron, doesn’t use the added perspective to fling the performers or their garish costumes at viewers’ faces. Instead, he uses it to get a sense of how the performers flirt with danger, sometimes in oddly beautiful ways. As someone who falls easily without the aid of tightropes and trapezes, it’s hard not to admire what these men and women can do. Adamson, probably correctly, seems to think that embellishment wouldn’t be helpful.
Worlds Away leaps from venue to venue and encompasses bits from several different reviews. All are impressive, but it might have been nice if they fit together thematically. In fact, Adamson and company could probably have made a solid film by simply focusing on a single review. Cirque du Soleil’s Love, their tribute to The Beatles, includes some eerie bits of psychedelia that nicely balance the wonder of the Fab Four’s tunes with a sense of foreboding about the less savory aspects of Swinging London.
It’s easy to spend most Worlds Away indifferent to whether Mia will ever meet up with her high-flying beau. As with Bruegel’s painting of the fall of Icarus, the background is frequently more interesting than the earthbound subject.
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D 85 Cast: Erica Linz, Igor Zaripov, Lutz Halbhubner, John Clarke, Dallas Barnett, a legion of acrobats Director: Andrew Adamson Rating: PG, for some dramatic images and mild sensuality Running time: 97 minutes
MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 12/21/2012
Print Headline: Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D