I’ve always wanted to go to Cirque du Soleil but when I was living tantalisingly close to an Australian production the budget just didn’t allow for a heartfelt indulgence. Roll-up, roll-up to the movie edition and I’m there with ticket and popcorn in hand to enjoy the spectacular. My 13yo son and I went to see this movie with the same level of expectation as mesmerised gnats drawn to a flame.
The world-famous Cirque du Soleil team have been reinventing what we traditionally know as a Circus since the late 80s. Sure there continues to be daredevil acrobatics with all sorts of characters that embody the curious expression of a Clown but the animal menagerie is no longer a part of the visiting pantomime except for Chinese Dragon like puppets that can be a part of a production. The Canadian entertainment company have a number of unique shows currently operating around the globe and are constantly reinventing their ideas so that each is a spectacle that engages the senses, challenges perception and pulls an audience to the brink of concern.
Director Andrew Adamson of Shrek and Narnia fame wanted to bring us that childhood fantasy experience in a movie compendium of the Cirque du Soleil experience. Teaming up with James Cameron as a producer and they had the connections and technical wizardry to bring about the onscreen impact that would amaze and tantalise. The Kiwi was able to bring some of the production down under but the majority of the movie is an amalgam of the seven shows currently showing in Las Vegas. By weaving a story of Mia a young girl who falls in love with a circus aerialist the script is able to give the cinema goer a taste of the productions of ‘O’, Mystère, Kà, Love, Zumanity, Viva Elvis and Criss Angel Believe from some of the largest hotels in Las Vegas. As a 3D production it is engaging to the point of immersing you in what would typically be the circus round. The lighting and colour across the different productions and locations is compiled in consistent manner that sings from the darkness of the set.
Worlds Away can’t be taken too seriously as a story and should always be seen as a celebration of the physical acrobatic performances etched on dramatic sets that heave and wain with incredible colour and movement. At times you will be taken across and under the surface of large pools of water while next been sucked into a vortex of sand that must have had at least four truck loads sliding down the sink-hole. Some of the sets look the size of a tennis court that are tipped in numerous directions to facilitate a stage for the performers who are often vertical on ropes. One of the most impacting acts seemed to be a mix of rope work from The Matrix and then the performers are balancing on rods that have emitted from the floor of the stage while almost in a vertical position to dual in a battle of clowns vs. warriors.
The one thing Worlds Away can’t do though is put you on the edge of your seat at the same level as a live performance. While some of the aerial acts without safety nets will amaze you, your mind will still be compensating telling you it all ended well because you’re seeing the movie. When you sit in the audience of a live performance somehow part of the journey is the anticipation of danger and death that creates excitement and nervous applause. Throughout the movie my son kept asking “What’s going on?” and then saying “WOW!” followed by “That’s trippy”. All up those three phrases sum up the Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away experience so buy a ticket to your cinema’s “Big Top”.