tek's rating:

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away (PG)
Cirque du Soleil; IMDb; Paramount; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

This was produced by James Cameron It came out in 2012, but I didn't see it until 2018. It was originally released in 3-D, but alas, I only got to see it in 2-D. It seems like the kind of thing that, more than most 3-D movies, I actually might have found the 3-D aspect genuinely enhanced the overall experience, but now I suppose I'll never know. Anyway, Cirque du Soleil was founded in 1984, when I was 8 years old. I don't remember if I first heard of it around that time, or if it wasn't until some years later. But I don't really remember a time when I wasn't at least vaguely aware of its existence. I've never actually seen any of the shows the circus has done over the years, though I'm sure I've seen at least snippets of performances, on TV. It's always been something that I'm glad we have on our planet, because I think it has a very unearthly feel about it. Seriously, they do things that are some of the most bizarre, incomprehensible, and beautiful examples of what people can do. (Although I kind of suspect these people have no bones in their bodies, only cartilage.) So... it's nice that they finally made an actual movie, which incorporates bits of several of their shows. However, I must say it's a hard move to rate, because... as performance art, it's amazeballs, but as a movie... not so much. So my rating is sort of an average between how I feel about it on those two separate levels.

It begins with a young woman (who, according to the credits, is named Mia, though her name is never mentioned in the movie) entering a sort of carnival called the Circus Marvelous. I need to mention that the movie has almost no dialogue. I also want to say that from the very start, I felt that Mia seemed mildly otherworldly to me. Like she somehow wasn't quite a part of the things she was looking at, though she seemed interested by them. This might be at least partly my imagination, whether influenced by the lack of dialogue, or the way her expressions looked while looking at things, or her pixie haircut, or just my preconceived expectations of anything involving Cirque du Soleil. But it's not important. At one point, she looks at a young man who is setting up a tent, and he smiles at her, and she smiles back. Then the man's boss tells him to go get ready for his performance. It's obvious that we're supposed to believe Mia and the young man had fallen in love at first sight... I mean, literally first sight, since not a word is spoken between them. So, they're both sad to be immediately parted. But then a clown gives Mia a flyer advertising the man's performance. He's called "the Aerialist," and he's a trapeze artist. So Mia goes to the show, in the actual circus part of the carnival. A little way into his performance, the Aerialist falls, apparently having missed his trapeze because he was looking at her, sitting in the audience. However, when he falls to the ground, it turns into a pit of sand, which he falls through. Mia rushes out to try to help (at which point it seems like everyone else in the circus tent has vanished), and she also falls down the pit.

When she lands, she finds herself in a strange world with various tents around (each of which apparently houses one of the Cirque shows that make up the film). She immediately begins looking for the Aerialist, occasionally showing the flyer to some of the people she meets, hoping they can help her, but not actually speaking to them. Meanwhile, the Aerialist has been taken captive by members of one of the shows. He's eventually freed by other performers, and I guess he starts looking for Mia, though it was never as clear to me that he was looking for her as that she was looking for him. So, as they search, they both witness various bizarre performances that seem to bear absolutely no relation to the Mia/Aerialist plot. The two of them aren't so much characters as an excuse to put the shows together into a single movie. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that they'll eventually find each other. And that they'll put on a show of their own (in which Mia, unsurprisingly, turns out to be just as skilled as the Aerialist). But as happy as it made me to eventually see that, the part of me that wants a movie to have an actual story was mostly disappointed by the movie. The part of me that just enjoys weird and wonderful performances of dancing/acrobatics/swimming/whatever, all set to great music, with great sets and costumes, really dug the movie. (I thought some of the music must sound pleasingly exotic to anyone who, like me, only speaks English. The kind of music one expects to hear in a Cirque show. But some of the music was also pleasingly familiar, including a bit of Elvis music and a lot of Beatles music.) To give you an idea of what you're in store for if you decide to watch this movie, the least bizarre part was set to an Elvis song, while performers dressed in what looked like superhero costumes did a sort of cross between trampoline-jumping and parkour. That was the Least. Bizarre. Part. Of. The. Movie.

You know, if I had been in Mia's position, I wouldn't have spent the whole movie almost never saying a word. When I first got to the other world, I would have been like, "Hey, guys, I hate to interrupt whatever it is you're doing. It looks freaking awesome, and I'd totes love to come back later and watch the whole thing. But right now I'm looking for this person I just met. Am I in love? I don't know. Doesn't matter. I'm just thinking the two of us should find each other and get back to our own world. So if anyone could help, that'd be great." And at the end of the movie, I'd be like, "Wow, I'm so glad I finally found you! So, like... should we go back to our own world, or just stay here, hang out and do some cool aerial shit? I mean, I'm starting to think we both fit in here better than we ever did in the other world, so I'm cool either way." But does she say any of those things? Of course not. Well, fine. I guess actions speak louder than words.


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