CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY (Andrew Adamson). 97 minutes. Opens Friday (December 21). For venues and times, see listing. Rating: N
While films like Martin Scorsese's Hugo or James Cameron's Avatar make a strong case for 3D advancing cinema's possibilities, more often it seems to signal an artistic regression back to cheap, stuff-flying-at-your-face thrills. Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away - produced by Cameron, incidentally - takes that retreat all the way back to the medium's infancy, where movies were carnival sideshows designed to provide in-your-face thrills.
Worlds Away is pure cinema of attraction: a gaudy restaging of the Quebecois circus company's high-flying spectacles. Though loosely built around the story of a wayward waif (Erica Linz) chasing an "aerialist" (Igor Zaripov) into a world of magic acrobatics populated by Seussian ballerinas, contortionists and limber clowns, Worlds Away is barely a movie in any conventional sense.
Like an IMAX film of someone pitching over Niagara Falls in a barrel or something you'd watch waiting in line for a roller coaster, it's more a bunch of visually crowded stuff unfolding in sequence than an actual film. Call it "sort-of cinema."
It's hard to imagine anyone short of circus arts diehards or undiscriminating stoners being even intermittently impressed by this flashy string of high-tech set pieces. Somehow, it even manages to cheapen the licensed Beatles music.