Sony // 2005 // 104 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 21st, 2006
As cool as these circus performers are, they sorta freak me out.
So here's the setting: on July 11, 2004, in Montreal, the International Festival of Jazz joined forces with Cirque du Soleil to put together a one night only orgy of music and acrobatics. This disc brings that celebration to your home theater with an excellent technical presentation.
The show sometimes intercuts between the circus performances and the musical performances and sometimes blends both together. The entire event took place on the streets of Montreal, mobbed with people, with two massive stages set up: one to house the musicians, the other to provide a venue for the Soleil performers to do their thing. There is a semblance of storyline to the gig, with a mysterious (homeless?) man watching the proceedings from above, and who eventually comes down and takes part in the performance. I'm sure it means a great deal to someone but I was too busy watching that hot girl spin around in the air.
So about those Cirque performers: I have to say, overall, their stuff didn't necessarily floor me. You had some truly awesome spectacles, sure, but there were more than a few ho-hum sights, a couple bordering on the laughable. First the good stuff. This one guy was running around a kind of modified hamster wheel, except it was a good 50 feet off of the ground. He would control the swing of the mechanism (kind of like a pendulum that spins 360 degrees) while flipping around and basically engaging in some death-defying acts. Then you had these two acrobats, a male and a female, both jacked, bending and lifting and putting their bodies into positions that appear to be physically impossible. A phalanx of fire eaters was pretty dope, too.
On the iffy end was a girl trapped in a glass box, and while I give her props for cramming herself into it, the ensuing writhing did nothing to drop my jaw. My favorite dumb trick also involved glass. These folks set up this giant pane of glass on the stage then proceeded to simply throw themselves at it. Whatever. I'm guessing some of the more inebriated folks in the streets could have done the same thing.
Still, combined with the music -- really, a combination of jazz and that New Age-y stuff that usually accompanies Cirque du Soleil performances -- the performances provided for a visceral feast. All the lavish costuming was in place, the make-up, the hairstyles (my favorite: one of the singers seemed to have inserted shovel handles into her coiffure), the lighting -- all accounted for and as overwrought as you could possibly desire.
The event was filmed in high definition, and the DVD treatment is excellent. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks awesome, vivid and lively, and boasting superb detailing. The 5.1 digital mix is robust and effective, especially when you consider music is always happening on this disc. Bonuses include a three minute musical encore, a photo gallery, some posters, and a brief look at Cirque du Soleil.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery
* A Look at Cirque du Soleil
* Official Site