Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Walk Review

I hate heights. Always have. Most likely always will. I do force myself to suck it up at times and deal with heights if it means a really good time or an amazing view. Like roller coasters. I love roller coasters. But I'm definitely the type of person who will look at a roller coaster and have to convince myself it's going to be fun. The worst part, of course, is the part where you slowly climb up. Speaking of theme parks, if you've ever been to this small little theme park in Farmington, Utah (close to where I grew up), there is this really slow, really tall ride called the sky ride that is like a ski lift that will transport you to the other side of the park. I hate that ride. Las Vegas. There is a roller coaster/thrill ride thing on top of the Stratosphere. I went on that. Most terrifying thing in my life. But it was awesome. Hiking. I love hiking. I love the view at the top of a mountain. But if the mountain is really steep or I have to climb by a ledge, I usually feel like I'm going to die during the hike. Get the point? So when I first saw this trailer where the camera shot up the side of the World Trade Center and then zoomed in on a man standing on that ledge, I knew I was in for a ride when I saw that movie. And then I saw the trailer in 3D IMAX and I was terrified. And super excited. Yeah, that about describes this movie, The Walk. It was one crazy adventure.

If you don't know your World Trade Center history, in 1974 when the towers were nearly complete, a French man by the name of Philippe Petit decided to hang a wire across the World Trade Center towers and walk across it. Yeah. That's crazy. And now, 41 years later, the great Robert Zemeckis has completed a movie where we get to go with this man as walks across. And because it's 2015 and we have a lot of amazing film technology, this experience is brought to us in the amazing 3D IMAX format. I've become quite the fan of this format since an IMAX theater was built in my current city not too long ago, yet I realize that not everyone has the luxury of watching movies in this format and those who do often aren't willing to fork out the money required. Because of this, I don't usually give you the recommendation that a movie absolutely needs to be seen in 3D IMAX. But I'm going to give that recommendation here. This movie needs to be seen in 3D IMAX. If there is no IMAX theater near you, then at least see this movie in 3D when it expands this upcoming weekend because walking with this crazy man as he pulls off this stunt is rather breathtaking.

The movie itself is definitely a tale of two halves. There's a lot of people complaining that the first half of this movie is really boring and awful. I'm not going to go as far as to say that. I think the first half of this movie is very important. We start off in a rather interesting way and that's by going to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character of Philippe at the top of the Statue of Liberty where he's going to tell us this story of a life-long dream that he had. As the movie goes on, he not only narrates the movie, but we often go back to him on the Statue of Liberty for him to give us an introduction to whatever scene is about to happen. I don't know if this was really necessary. I don't think we really even needed a narrator, but we got that and more. But whatever. I'm not giving too many negative points for that. But needless to say, he tells us the story of how he became a high-wire artist and how he came to this dream of doing this crazy high-wire stunt between the World Trade Center towers. Like I said, I feel this was an important part of the movie. We needed to introduce the movie. We needed to set the set the stage for this guy and introduce all of the side characters that led up to this. All that said, I will admit that this first half did drag on. I knew we couldn't have the whole movie on top of the wire, but during this first half, I was a lot more interested in us getting to the second half as opposed to watching what happened in the first half. I wouldn't say I was bored, but I was slightly uninterested.

But then the second half of the movie came. Normally I avoid the second half of the movie like a plague when doing a movie review, but in this case the second half of the movie IS the movie. It's the spectacle. It's why you go to this movie. All the advertising has focused on this half. A man walking on a wire between the Trade Centers in 3D IMAX. It shouldn't be a surprise that this happens. That he makes it to this point. It also should be no surprise to what happens in the end. I won't divulge, but this isn't a movie about a man plummeting to his death. I say all of this, because it's not the end result that matters here. It's the journey that matters here and by goodness is it a crazy journey. The thing they did here is very illegal. And there's a lot of people there everyday working on getting these buildings finished. Thus they have to come up with this master plan to make it all work and everything has to go perfectly. Essentially it becomes a heist movie and it is super exciting and intense. You know they are going to make it or there wouldn't have been a movie made, but that doesn't diminish the experience. Then we get to the walk. And holy freaking cow was this terrifying. I can't accurately describe in words the feelings that I felt during the finale, but nonetheless it was super tense.

I can't praise the visual effects and cinematography enough. The fact that they pulled off what they did is incredible. It literally felt like Joseph Gordon-Levitt was actually walking on a wire between the Trade Centers. And it felt like they pulled off some crazy camera stunts to be up there with him. But this is literally impossible. Not only is it impractical to ask an actor to pull off such a stunt, but the World Trade Centers don't exist anymore. I have no idea how they did this. I'm not even going to guess. I will say that I would be really interested in watching a documentary on the making of this movie. You know, the ones that usually come on the special features of the DVD? But whatever it is that they did, it is incredible and breathtaking because it feels absolutely real. Now there's been some reports that people have been sick or thrown up because of the intensity of this movie. That didn't happen for me. I was just blown away. And curled up in a ball, literally on the edge of my seat. It was also fun noticing the reactions of people around me. They were all freaking out, too. Girls let out screams at points. Guys probably did too. Needless to say, it was a very vocal and noisy theater and I did not blame people one bit.

Finally, I do need to talk about the acting in this movie because I really loved it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a very recognizable name at this point in his career. I doubt there are many people who haven't seen Inception and/or The Dark Knight Rises. This movie he transforms himself quite a bit. Partially in look, but mostly in voice. JGL's hair is usually short and clean. This movie it's long and messy. And he goes with the French accent because Philippe Petit is French. Yes, it is kinda weird hearing a completely different voice coming out of JGL's mouth, but I bought into it. In fact, it made it so I was able to see the character of Philippe Petit instead of JGL and I really liked that aspect of the movie. An Oscar worthy performance? I wouldn't be bothered one bit. I don't really think it will happen in this case, but I do think the man has an Oscar nomination coming his way in the near future because the man is a great actor and does a great job in this movie. He also has a really good supporting cast around him. Charlotte Le Bon is the supporting character I liked the most. She plays his girl. I kinda love her. But I also do have a thing for girls with French accents, so perhaps there's some bias there. And finally, I do have to give a nod to Ben Kingsley. The man is excellent in every movie he's in and this is no different.

Overall, this is a movie that I highly recommend you see and it's a movie that I would highly recommend you see in 3D IMAX. In fact, I honestly don't know how this movie will hold up in a normal movie screen or on a TV. I fear that watching this event happen will cause this to be a slightly boring movie, whereas seeing it in 3D IMAX will take you to the top of the World Trade Centers and allow you to walk the wire with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which could be seen as a once in a lifetime experience. I've seen a lot of movies in IMAX this year and this movie is definitely the best of the year in that format, slightly beating out Everest, which I saw last week in IMAX. Yes, the first half of the movie is pretty slow, which is why I'm not going to give this movie as high of a grade as I want to, but the second half of the movie definitely makes up for it. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance as Philippe Petit is rather excellent. I don't know if it's going to give him an Oscar nomination this year, but I do think it foreshadows an Oscar nomination in the near future. As a whole, I will give the experience that is The Walk an 8/10, which is the average score of the movie itself and the 3D IMAX experience.

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