While Cirque du Soleil (CDS) has dabbled in the world of the cinema in the past with their IMAX centered 'Journey of Man' project, never before has the circus juggernaut ventured into the world of full-length feature film. Cirque fans in Austin will be delighted to know that barrier has been broken down in impressive albeit flawed fashion.
If viewed as more of an experiment to see if the Canadian performance troupe's acrobatics can translate to the big screen than a full attempt at storytelling, 'CDS: Worlds Away' dazzles and pleases both the eyes and ears. Various stunning performances from the troupe's Las Vegas based shows help tell a loose love story involving a young female circus attendee named Mia (Erica Linz) and an aerialist (Igor Zaripov) who has mysteriously disappeared after falling during his act.
However, the inclusion of the Vegas shows leads to what is perhaps the film's biggest downfall. The lack of a real plot is no surprise as only one CDS show, the Las Vegas based 'Ka', has a plot at all. What was a surprise was that the poor organization and sloppy modification of the various acts, minus the acts shown from 'The Beatles: LOVE,' failed to properly develop the already forced love story. The creation of new acts would have been too risky and costly for what amounts to an experimental film, but each of the recycled performances feel like an interruption or a separate entity and not part of the story development at all.
All of those shortcomings aside, the acrobatic acts are as dazzling and stunning as ever in 3D and effectively translate to the screen visually, which accomplishes the film's aforementioned mission. While his writing falls short, Andrew Adamson's ('Shrek') direction conveys the immediacy and difficulty of the acts performed almost flawlessly to film with intricacy of the performances in full display.
While not a complete substitute for seeing a Cirque show live, the film serves both as a proper low cost introduction for those in the Austin area who have yet to witness Cirque in person and as a vehicle for those who are already huge Cirque fans to get their fix. Both groups will leave the theater in awe and wonderment at what they've just watched but the lack of cohesiveness still leaves something to be desired.
'Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away' is now playing in both 2D and 3D formats at the Cinemark Tinseltown 17 and the Regal Gateway 16 in Austin.