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Movie review: 'Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away'

Posted 1:47pm on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012

PG (dramatic images, mild sensuality); 88 min.

Cirque du Soleil movies are a lot like ballet films -- long on beauty and artistry, short on story.

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away is a 3-D catalog of the wonders of the Cirque company's Las Vegas shows, from Believe and Mystere to O and Viva Elvis. It is a feast for the eyes, an appreciation of the accomplished art of the jugglers, tumblers, mimes, contortionists, acrobats and aerialists that have made Cirque a brand name for family-friendly wonders, even in Sin City.

Live, in person, these shows are physical and technical spectacles, the state of the art in what is possible in live performance. On film? The spectacle is a little less spectacular, the sappy Enya-ish score monotonous, and the "story" takes on importance that it cannot sustain.

Chronicles of Narnia director Andrew Adamson has written a connecting tale to take us through the tents that hold these Vegas "Worlds." A gamine (Erica Linz) stumbles into a visiting circus in her town and tumbles for the handsome aerialist (Igor Zaripov), and when he -- distracted -- falls from the heights, she is sucked into the same sandy vortex that opens in the floor of the Circus Marvelous tent that swallows him.

It's all quite lovely, mesmerizing -- and right on the edge of sleep-inducing.

Then, just as you're about to doze off, the Viva Elvis and The Beatles Love segments turn up and give the show momentum, and a beat we can dance to.

Cheaper than a trip to Vegas, Worlds Away is, even in gorgeous 3-D, a wonderful reminder of the indispensable place Cirque du Soleil holds in popular entertainment. It's fabulous, even on film. But there's no substitute for live performance.

-- Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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