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REVIEW — “The Walk”

Thanks to the talent assembled both behind and in front of the camera, Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk is a must-see in IMAX 3D.

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The Walk tells the story of Philippe Petit’s audacious, dangerous, and illegal quest to hang and walk on a high-wire from one World Trade Center tower to the other in 1974. Because Joseph Gordon-Levitt fully immerses himself into his role, capturing the fierce stubbornness and optimism that drives Philippe Petit, he delivers the best performance of his career. Credit must be given to Levitt and the screenwriters, Robert Zemeckis and Robert Browne, who utilize narration to further the story and provide relevant information in an entertaining and timely manner; usually narration is a cheap ploy to over explain the plot and characters to the audience.

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Although there are no lackluster supporting performances, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, and James Bage Dale are the most outstanding. Kingsley portrays Papa Rudy, Petit’s mentor, with enough gravitas to make him a likeable source of wisdom and concern. Whether Papa Rudy and Philippe Petit are collaborating amicably or arguing, the chemistry between Kingsley and Levitt is strong. Petit’s girlfriend, Annie, is portrayed by Charlotte Le Bon, who provides enough sass, wit, and concern to make her relationship with Petit dynamic, rather than static. Refreshingly, not everything in their relationship is instantly resolved to force a happy ending down the audience’s throats as in lesser films, such as Furious 7 and Iron Man 3. Out of the several “accomplices” that Petit enlists to achieve his dream, Jean-Pierre, who is portrayed by James Bage Dale, is the persuader that helps Petit bypass various authority figures. Dale’s charisma and strong comedic timing provides many of this film’s best light-hearted moments.

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Behind the camera, the talent is even more impressive. The Walk is masterfully directed by Robert Zemeckis, who is known for directing Cast Away, Flight, Forrest Gump, and Back to the Future. Each frame of this film is carefully and meticulously selected. Zemeckis balances the tone, which seamlessly merges comedy, adventure, heist, and drama tropes. Zemeckis’ ubiquitous sense of wonder pours into every aspect of the spectacle he gleefully provides. Consequently, The Walk is a tribute to the World Trade Center and dreamers everywhere. The best aspect of The Walk is Zemeckis’ impeccable use of prolonged and captivating shots during the high-wire sequences, which are so effective that audience members will be thankful to walk on solid ground at the conclusion of this film. Warning: If you are not scared of heights prior to seeing this film, you may be afterwards.

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To make a film about a man walking across the World Trade Center requires spectacular special effects. That being said, 80% of the special effects in The Walk are more gorgeously rendered than the special effects in any other 2015 release (so far). The vast majority of the New York skyline and lingering shots of the World Trade Center look authentic. The shots that showcase the ground below Petit are so realistic that they are terrifying. In IMAX 3D, The Walk is so immersive that each step that Philippe takes during the climactic sequence made my heart pound. Unfortunately, the greatest flaw that this film suffers from is that some of its CGI looks unfinished. There are times where Philippe Petit, the wire, skyscrapers, and background appear animated. This is undoubtedly due to the filmmakers’ slight overuse of CGI. This is merely a minor flaw in an otherwise fantastic film.

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Because The Walk boasts outstanding performances, masterful direction, and mostly astonishing special effects, it is must-see in IMAX 3D.

Rating: 4.5/5

Have you seen The Walk yet? If so, what did you think of it?

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