“Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” enchants viewers by repeatedly immersing them into visually stunning environs with physically astonishing feats. Nevertheless, the film lacks a coherent storyline and works best if considered only as a dreamlike, artistic set of ravishing images.
James Cameron (“Titanic,” “Avatar”) executive produced “Cirque: Worlds Away” and the vastness of the Cirque troops’ talents are clearly in evidence, however, the storyline is only loosely strung together. The film’s two main characters Mia (Erica Linz) and The Aerialist (Igor Zaripov) first cross paths at a nighttime traveling carnival circus. Mia catches The Aerialist’s eye as he is pitching a tent, and she sees him again while he is attempting to perform airborne acrobatics during the circus’ show. Somehow, The Aerialist misses his catch, and he falls into the sandy floor of the tent that swallows him into a whirling hole. Mia rushes out of her seat to try to save him, but she, too, is pulled into what has become a massive sandy porthole at the bottom of the tent. Neither can resist the great force which has drawn them, separately, into another dimension or world.
In this new ‘world,’ Mia holds tight The Aerialist’s poster that she had grabbed while at the nighttime circus. She repeatedly shows his poster to those she encounters in each of the circus tents in this new dimension, but she seems unable to find the Aerialist. Meanwhile, the Aerialist appears unaware, at first, that Mia was also transported, and he encounters separate experiences in each of the many tents. Few words are said throughout the entirety of the movie, as the audience is, instead, guided by the performers’ actions.
“Cirque: Worlds Away’s” plot is little more than the constant searching of these two characters for each other across most of Cirque’s permanent shows (performances come from Cirque du Soleil’s permanent Las Vegas shows: “O,” “Ka,” “Love,” “Mystere,” “Zumanity,” and “Viva Elvis”). There is no coherency to their experiences or to the movie as a whole, unlike the thematic nature of actual Cirque du Soleil shows seen live in their entirety. As such, the acts, the physical prowess, the close-up views with previously unobtainable vantage points of the masterful artists at work is mesmerizing but without any sensical linearity. It was almost as if any of the experiences could have been shuffled into any order. There is some resolution to the couple’s fate at the film’s end, but only after 91-minutes of traveling between worlds punctuated by dance, aerialists, Chinese gymnasts, and The Beatles (among others).
For Cirque fans or for those that have not had a chance to indulge in the troop’s mastery of the human body, “Cirque: Worlds Away” is an inexpensive trip to see the circus without visual interference. But, those viewers hoping for a cinematic experience beyond the circus will find themselves disappointed.