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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Cirque Du Soleil - Worlds Away

March 11th, 2013

Cirque Du Soleil - Worlds Away - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 3D Combo Pack

I requested Cirque Du Soleil - Worlds Away for the same reason I requested Samsara. After reading numerous reviews, I had really no idea what the movie was about, which made it difficult to come up with keywords. Unfortunately with Samsara that didn't work out so well. I loved the movie, but there was no plot to describe. Is this movie going to be the same?

The Movie

The answer to that question is mostly yes. In the beginning of the film, we meet Mia, who enters the Circus Marvelous. After walking past the freak show, and the strong man, she sees one of the circus workers helping set up a tent. There's an instant connection, but his supervisor yells at the man before practically chasing off Mia. After that, Mia meets a clown who insists she sees the big show, which stars the Aerialist, which is the man she saw. The show is impressive, till the Aerialist sees Mia in the crowd and he is distracted for a moment and in that moment he falls to the ground. Mia races towards him when suddenly the ground swallows him up, and soon after grabs Mia as well.

Mia falls and when she hits the ground, she's in a strange new world. It's almost completely barren, except for some circus tents. She races towards one of the tents... and that's where the plot ends. To be fair, we see Mia try to find the Aerialist, and later the Aerialist tries to find Mia, but for the most part, it is just a best of look at some of Cirque du Soleil's other performances.

On the one hand, if you are looking for something new, you are not going to get it here. On the other hand, if you've never gotten a chance to see Cirque du Soleil live, this is a great introduction to their art. Because the... I'm not even sure what to call the individual segments. Routines? Because the routines are drawn from so many different shows (according to Wikipedia, there are seven shows represented here) there are many, many changes in the look and the tone of the film. This hurts the cohesion and it really does feel like a Best Of compilation rather than a new movie. This is the biggest complaint critics had with the movie, and it is a valid one. However, I feel that if you know that this is the case going into the movie, then you will enjoy it more than if it is a large shock that this isn't nearly 100% recycled material and nearly 100% devoid of story.

Many of the segments are incredible to watch, but they are harder to describe. (There's one part where a guy is dancing while spinning a giant cube made out of pipes that change color depending on how the light hits it. So while it is spinning, there's a rainbow effect. It looks like it is CGI. It looks amazing in 3D high definition.) The film will be especially intriguing if you are a fan of The Beatles or Elvis Presley, as many of the routines come from Love and Viva Elvis shows. I think if you are very familiar with the music that goes with the visuals, it improves the overall effect.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD. Extras on the Blu-ray begin with a very short making of featurette (it's barely more than two minutes long). There is a longer behind-the-scenes featurette focusing on Erica Linz rehearsing for a new routine. After watching this, I really wish there was more of a plot in the movie, because Erica Linz is very charismatic and I think the movie would have been better had her character had more, well, character. There is also a coupon in the case for 20% off certain shows.

The technical presentation is reference level quality. The video looks amazing with astounding detail levels, even in the darkest scenes. The colors are so vivid, while the contrast is simply incredible. The audio is enveloping, although I think it would have benefited from a 7.1 surround sound track instead of a 5.1 track. The film was shot in 3D with James Cameron's production company leading the way, so it goes without saying that the 3D is magnificent. There's excellent depth and plenty times things are thrust at the screen. There are no problems present in 3D either, which is not a surprise, as it was shot in 3D and it is not a 3D post-production conversion.

The DVD costs $17 on The Blu-ray Combo Pack costs $23, or just over 30% more, which a good price, especially given the upgrade in extras and video / audio quality. However, I think $28 for the 3D version is the best deal.

The Verdict

Cirque Du Soleil - Worlds Away is not really a movie as much as it is a highlight reel of Cirque Du Soleil's previous performances. If you like their work, then it is worth picking up. If you are just interesting in a rental, then the DVD is fine. If you are interested in buying, but have not made the upgrade to 3D, then the Blu-ray Combo Pack is a worth the extra $6, but the 3D Combo Pack is the best deal of all the versions going on sale this week.

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Filed under: Video Review, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, Samsara, James Cameron, Elvis Presley, Erica Linz, Igor Zaripov