By: Bailey Hart
In 1974, Philippe Petit walked a high-wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center. A fantastic documentary on the subject, Man on Wire, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2008. Now, Robert Zemeckis is at the helm to retell the story in mesmerizing IMAX 3D. The titular scene in The Walk is absolutely breathtaking, and takes full advantage of unique cinematography and digital photography to instill awe, fear, and vertigo in the unwitting audience members. It’s not surprising to hear that there have been accounts of people running out of screenings to vomit near the end of the film.
Sadly, the rest of The Walk doesn’t hold up nearly as well as this mesmerizing scene. As the score pitters along, an obvious and schmaltzy piano tune that is obnoxiously similar to that of Forrest Gump, Robert Zemeckis takes an already dramatic and impressive “heist” story and molds it to fit predictable and broad standards. The most obnoxious adjustments come in the form of new fictional characters, such as a stoner caricature who seems as if he’d fit in much better in one of those Scary Movie parodies, and Ben Kingsley as a kindly old circus performer who literally teaches Petit the ropes.
As is standard for Robert Zemeckis movies, The Walk is absolutely drenched in overt sentimentality. Luckily, the magnificent high-wire scene absolutely justifies the price of admission. The camerawork is, of course, dazzling throughout the film, and the film definitely has a distinct visual flair. The Walk absolutely needs to be seen in IMAX- without that experience, the film sadly doesn’t stand up very well on it’s own. B-