Based on the true story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit's walk between the Twin Towers, this Robert Zemeckis movie is a nice addition to anyone's 3D Blu-ray library. This more character focused story is a nice change from the typical action-heavy 3D faire. I cannot speak to how authentic Joseph Gordon-Levitt's French accent is, but I found it distracting, coming off like someone told him "be French!" and not a specific French person...again, I perhaps he sounds exactly like Philippe Petit, but it came off comical. If you are a fan of 3D Blu-rays, I would recommend this as an alternative to all of the action and horror 3D options out there.
Robert Zemeckis is clearly a director who loves to push the boundaries of new visual technology. He used visual effects very skillfully in Back to the Future and Forrest Gump and used new motion-capture technology for the computer animated characters in The Polar Express. The Walk is an awesome visual experience, which comes as close as a movie can to making you feel like you are there in the space between the two World Trade Center towers. I’ve not yet seen the documentary Man on Wire about the high-wire walker Philippe Petit’s 1974 walk between the twin towers, but I’m even more interested now that I’ve seen this brilliantly made movie.
The casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as the impetuous French high-wire walker Philippe Petit, is perfect. As a character, he’s both likable and unlikable, but like with other brash “artists” (which is how the character views himself) such as Van Gogh or Beethoven, you as a viewer become obsessed with watching him even though he’s a hothead and completely obsessive. The tasks he went through to illegally get up to the top of both twin towers, with the aid of several accomplices, are fascinating to watch. I hope to learn more on the documentary or his book about what specific plot elements were made up for the movie.
One of the ways the movie kept me from getting more scared when he’s doing the walk is that there are only a few shots which look down toward the ground, and they looked to me more like a computer game image than like a photographic image, so my mind didn’t get tricked into thinking I was about to fall. If someone is really scared of heights, I’m sure they’d not even be considering this movie anyway.
There are excellent visual transitions between scenes, an example being where he looks at a building and then it transitions to a model of the building which he built for envisioning a high-wire-crossing. The swift pace of the whole movie is due to the visual transitions, the narration, and the music. Because of the energetic pace, I was enthusiastic by the time he was finally making the triumphant walk between the World Trade Center towers. The suspenseful events of the night of preparation also add a lot to the movie’s dramatic power. There’s one part where a guard comes within about an inch of discovering one of his accomplices on the ground, like the climax of The Sound of Music. I have a suspicion that was added for dramatic tension, but I guess I’ll find out in either his book or the documentary.
Complicating his difficulties, he has an injured foot from stepping into a nail, but has brought his friends over from France and can’t delay too long for their sakes. He additionally has a friend named Jeff (who looks kind of like Elijah Wood) who is afraid of heights but quietly loyal to him.
The energy of the movie is fantastic. One scene moves into another at such a swift pace that I felt almost excited for him to do something that is pretty foolhardy. However, I came to see that Philippe Petit and Nik Wallenda know exactly what they’re doing when they do high-wire crossings with no safety net below them. They have a rod in their arms to help them be more balanced, and they wouldn’t do it if there was a heavy wind. The sense of balance high-wire walkers have within themselves is really hard to believe.
It always improves the movie, rather than killing the energy of the movie, when the Philippe character narrates what happens between scenes, standing atop the Statue of Liberty. It’s an interesting narrative device to have him standing at the Statue of Liberty’s balcony and showing you where the twin towers are (were, I mean). I wasn’t even that sad as I thought about September 11, because this movie immersed me so much in its 1973-1974 world, in such an enthusiastic “joy of living” way.
Alan Silvestri is always a great composer. I suspected he was the composer when I heard some of the music, knowing that he had done work for previous Zemeckis movies and also knowing his style of melody and orchestration. His music in The Walk is good at capturing a sense of wonder and adding elements of danger to that beautiful melody, kind of like his Night at the Museum melody does. The sound effects are also really important for making you feel like you’re watching Philippe really walk across the wire. Sometimes an alternative reality gets presented in the movie which he narrates, as he talks about what he fears will happen and you start to see and hear it for a few seconds. That narrative device is made more effective by the sound effects.
There is so much imaginative collaboration that went into this movie, which really paid off. It feels like every component of the moviemaking became a unified whole
I would recommend this to a friend
Rating 4 out of 5 stars with 1 review
The Walk is a visual masterpiece with a captivating story and superb acting. It was intense, thrilling, and emotional. The cinematography was top notch and the CGI was impeccable. This was truly an amazing cinematic experience that was made for IMAX 3D.
The basic story of The Walk is this: a French street performer becomes obsessed with hanging a high wire between the two Twin Towers and walking on it. He flies to New York, recruits a few people to help him, and after weeks of of planning, is ready to perform an impossible stunt that will be remembered forever. The script is very well written and the story comes across very nicely to the viewer. It focuses on all the right moments for the right amount of time, which means the pacing is generally good. My only problem arises in the beginning as I felt it was a little rushed. Character development is also not the finest, but it is enough to make the viewer care about the characters. Other than that the story was told in a very captivating way that left viewer on the edge of their seat.
The Walk is a visual treat, specifically the last part of the film. There are magnificent, swooping camera shots showing off the beautiful Twin Towers in all their glory and with IMAX 3D, the viewer feels like they are thousands of feet in the air on the high wire. There were multiple times in this movie where vertigo kicked in due to the crazy heights portrayed in the film. The cinematography really helps the viewer become immersed in the experience as there are so many memorable shots of the Twin Towers and views of New York City. The CGI used to create this wonderful experience looks insanely real and really makes one appreciate the beauty and height of the Twin Towers. When Philippe Petit is on the high wire, wind and distant traffic noises are added to the incredible CGI to enhance the feeling of being 110 stories up in the air and with moving camera angles, the experience is beautiful and realistic.
The acting in this movie is superb. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is amazing as Philippe Petit and really does a good job showing how insane Petit really was. Charlotte Le Bon also does a fine job portraying Petit's girlfriend, and Ben Kingsley gives a good performance as Petit's mentor. All the supporting cast give great performances as well.
Robert Zemeckis does an amazing job making this movie as intense and thrilling as possible. His direction really made this movie what it is; and it is visual spectacle told within a great story.
In the end, The Walk is a visually thrilling and intensely told masterpiece. It boast beautiful cinematography, flawless CGI, great acting and direction, and a captivating story. This is truly a movie to behold in IMAX 3D and one will come out of the theater feeling immensely satisfied with the experience. The Twin Towers were beautifully portrayed in this movie and made one appreciate their existence even more. I am proud to say that this is one of the best and most satisfying movie experiences of this year.
I would recommend this to a friend
Rating 4 out of 5 stars with 1 review
Predictable, Yet Unforgettable
This 3D Blu-ray disk provided great image quality and clear sound, especially the dialogue. The package includes a 2D disk. plus an Ultraviolet digital HD copy.
The movie itself is good, while a bit disjointed in telling the story of Phillipe Petit and his Walk, but it acquaints you well with the major characters and Phillipe's absolute determination to achieve his dream. There are plenty of logistical challenges and unexpected obstacles for the team to overcome. The film balances an undercurrent of tension in the film between the magic of Petit's vision and the team's apprehension of the real-life risks involved. The filmmakers' attention to detail in the sets is evident, and the effort to combine them with CGI greenscreen backgrounds is seamless and wondrous.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is glowing in this performance (he actually trained to walk the tightrope for the film). He embodies the deep belief and commitment Petit brought to his endeavor and the actor pulls off a smooth, believable French accent, too.
And of course, the 3D Blu-ray experience is mesmerizing on the wire - you are right there with the wirewalker, 110 stories up, suspended between the towers. You may forget some of the details presented in the run-up to the finale of this film, but you'll never forget The Walk.
SPECIAL NOTE: A short excerpt of the movie is available via Google Play or the App Store (you don't need a copy of the movie to access this clip). The download is viewable in both 360-degree and VR formats. The resolution isn't the greatest, but it does allow you to envelope yourself in the walk experience (in 2D, unfortunately) using a virtual reality headset.
Many people last year said that the film really only comes down to one scene while the rest is a bore. I partially agree. The last 20 minutes are indeed the highlight and should've been seen on the big screen (I was lucky enough to see it in a real IMAX theater before it was yanked from theaters). It was truly exhilirating.
That saying, I also very much enjoyed the film that preceded those 20 minutes. Corny? A little. Cliche? You could say that, but Robert Zemeckis is a master of having those elements in his films yet still brining everything together into a compelling whole (I'm looking at you Forrest Gump).
So that brings us to the big question: Can a movie that really needed to be seen on a big screen still work at home? Well, if this was a year ago I would've implored you to see it in a theater. We're well past that point obviously though. Since I'm reviewing the 3D Blu-Ray version of this, I would say give it a whirl at home, but only if you have 3D and a big screen (the bigger the better). I'm not sure I'd even bother with the regular Blu-Ray. Like Avatar, The Walk was intended to be seen in 3D on the biggest screen possible. Hopefully at some point this will get a revival run in theaters. Few too many people gave it a chance.