About 40 minutes into Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, I swear I saw a Lycra-clad Ming the Merciless brandish a paella pan brimming with something red. I thought I was looking at Amfortas' wound in a Las Vegas production of Parsifal. I blinked several times. Both Ming and his paella pan were still there. Ordinarily, one needs the assistance of street drugs or a kaleidoscope to experience a sustained hallucination like this. Maybe it was the 3-D glasses?
Worlds Away is from producer James Cameron and director Andrew Adamson, best known as the writer/director of Shrek. The 3-D film follows a female circusgoer (Erica Linz) who romantically falls for a hunky aerialist (Igor Zaripov) before she physically falls through a quicksand of lust and into a parallel universe. Once this Alice plunges into Wonderland, she strolls through tableaux resembling Cirque productions of O and Revolution before ultimately finding Mr. Dreamy.
This setup provides the trippy fun of Danny Boyle's Olympics opening ceremony minus the intentional laughs.
Despite its appeal, the movie lacks a judicious film editor, one who doesn't cut in the middle of the breathtaking, death-defying aerial moves by the Cirque performers. Inevitably, every time Adamson begins to involve the movie audience in the tumbling and wire work, the editor cuts to a different angle, breaking audience identification and concentration.