‘Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away’ is Visually Arresting Infomercial

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CHICAGO – Cirque du Soleil, which began with two street performers in Quebec in 1984, has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise with shows on every continent and seven simultaneous extravaganzas in Las Vegas. The Vegas shows make up the storyline for “Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away.”

The style of Cirque – that of an evolution in artsy, acrobatic big top performance – is an acquired taste, and fans of the concept will probably love the 3D film maneuverings of the various Las Vegas shows. But there is also a redundancy in that style, and because the narrative is spare, it does tend to feel like a circus parade infomercial of “visit exciting Las Vegas, and see these shows live!” It’s best to go in with an open mind and heart towards the Cirque zeitgeist, otherwise the piece just blends together, distinctively visual but a bit empty in the creative variation department. It’s almost silly to critically disrespect the Cirque impression, because of it’s athletic tribute to the luxury of what a human body can do, but the sameness is apparent and that can be a turnoff.

As indicated above, there is not much of a narrative. An outsider waif named Mia (Erica Linz) happens upon a glitzy circus in the middle of a nowheresville. She is entranced under the big top by The Aerialist (Igor Zaripov). In the midst of one of his difficult high wire moves, the performer falls to the earth, horrifying Mia and the crowd. But instead of landing hard on terra firma, The Aerialist falls inside a quicksand-like earth. Mia also seems to be falling for him, because she follows him into the soft pit.

Erica Linz
Send in the Extras: Mia (Erica Linz) and Clown in ‘Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

She ends up in a etherial plane below, with circus tents among a cloud-like atmosphere. Within each of the tents is a Cirque du Soleil show, including all seven of the Vegas acts – “O,” “Mystére,” “Ka,” “Zumanity,” “Viva Elvis,” “Criss Angel Believe” and “The Beatles Love.” Mia disappears and reappears throughout the acts, still searching for the elusive Aerialist.

It might of been more interesting to eschew the whole Mia/Aerialist thing, because it’s so obviously shoehorned into the acts themselves. Mia actually disappears for several minutes at a time – perhaps a bizarre ringmaster or a connecting movement from one act to another would have been more cohesive. The best part of all the proceedings was “The Beatles Love” show segments, because their glorious songs are included over the Dolby speakers, and the Cirque meanderings are a perfect compliment to the trippy 1960s vibe that the tunes regenerate. The production was smart enough to revisit that show when some of the other stuff started to run together.

All the shows are celebrations of the human form, doing showy gymnastics that are truly eye popping. From aerial antics to interactions with devices such as a ship, cube and watery bowl, the Cirque performers are lithe creatures that are perfect human specimens, and that becomes as much the eye candy as anything else. For both men and women, in whatever orientation they practice, the concentric circles costume highlighting certain rounded points of anatomy is biologically pleasing.

The narrative they attempt is almost laughably odd. Mia is a reminder of Leslie Caron from “Lili” (1953) – as in “a song of love is a sad song, hi-Lili, hi-Lili, hi-lo” – and that perhaps is intentional, given both films have similar circus themes. The Aerialist, with his shaved body and codpiece, could certainly attract human beings, but they might be of a gender opposite to Mia’s. Their pursuit of each other as a couple is mostly longing looks and rapturous expressions, but if you’re looking for chemistry it’s suggested that you put a Mentos in a Coca-Cola rather than watch this duo.

Cirque du Soleil
Concentric: Performers in ‘Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

With any experience of Las Vegas and it’s environs, there was a nagging feeling within the film of deja vu, even if you’ve never gone to one of the Cirque shows there. There is something about the Cirque Du Soleil cultural influence that makes the atmosphere so familiar, either to its credit or how it’s embedded into our socio-entertainment viral chips. Once we learn at the conclusion that all of the shows are available to see in Vegas, there is the feeling that “Worlds Away” will easily fit into the format of infomercials received on the hotel room TVs in Las Vegas.

Regardless of all that, this is superior eye candy, especially in optional 3D. Once all the Christmas toys are used up – the jing tinglers, flu floppers, who hoovers, slu slumkers and zu zitter carzays – we will always have the concentric circle costumes of Cirque du Soleil.

“Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” opens everywhere on December 21st. See local listings for 3D theaters and show times. Featuring Erica Linz, Igor Zaripov, Lutz Halbhubner and Dallas Barnett. Written and directed by Andrew Adamson. Rated “PG

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2012 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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