Oscar Watch: The Walk (Quick Review)

the walk

Summary: Joseph Gordon Levitt stars as Philippe Petit. a French man who, in August of 1974, with the help of a few accomplices, walked across a wire connected between the World Trade Centers.

My Review: As a fan of the original documentary Man on Wire (and the children’s book The Man Who Walked Between the Towers), I was really looking forward to this film; and, for the most part, The Walk did not disappoint. The film is sort divided in three acts. The first act covers Petit’s origin story: how he became interested in walking on wires, his original love for the Twin Towers, and how he met his girlfriend and helper Annie Allix (played by Charlotte le Bon). The second and third acts, which comprise of the planning stages (with his coup) and the actual act, are definitely more interesting. The first act is, I suppose, necessary. But you really get your money’s worth once Petit reaches New York and begins the planning stages.

This whole stunt is just so fascinating. And the film captures the excitement, yet stress and dangerously high stakes, of the entire moment. I decided to spend a few extra dollars and watch this on IMAX-3D. I had never enjoyed watching 3-D movies, but this was definitely the first time where I actually felt like the 3-D actually significantly added to the experience (so, yes, better than Avatar). This was also the first time I had watched a movie on an IMAX screen since…those early years when IMAX theatres were only featured in museums and played 20 minute documentaries. I’m glad I was reintroduced to this theatrical experience with this film. The effects are wonderful. And while I didn’t get sick like some other filmgoers, I certainly can see why. Those scenes atop of the World Trade Center are not for faint of heart (JK, seriously, watch this movie, even if you do have a faint heart).

Performance Spotlight: So, according to Gold Derby, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is ranked 13th in terms of Oscar chances. It’s not the most promising spot, considering Fassbender, Redmayne, DiCaprio, and Depp are all but locks (but, hey, ANYTHING can happen). But Gordon-Levitt is certainly a deserving contender with his performance here. But Lead Actor is always hella competitive. However, I also really liked Cesar Domboy’s performance here. He played Jeff, one of the members of the coup. He’s pretty much Gordon-Levitt’s sole acting partner for most of the third act. His character’s genuine fear (deathly fear of heights) during those night setup scenes made me feel woozy. Overall, it’s nice to see the bulk of the cast comprised of performers I wasn’t familiar with. But Ben Kingsley, as Petit’s mentor, is second billed. And, I probably audibly squealed a little when Parks and Rec’s Ben Schwartz appeared. Let’s just say, his character would be who you would think he would be…if that makes sense.

Other Thoughts: I’m not sure if The Walk will pick up any major nominations (Robert Zemeckis isn’t exactly Oscar bait), but it’ll be nuts if this film doesn’t get nominations for Cinematography, Sound, and even Editing. I know this film will end up being one of the better shot, better looking films of the year. So, don’t screw this up Academy voters!

When I first anticipated watching this film, I was curious how they would possibly honor 9/11. The original documentary, for the most part, doesn’t reference to the plane crashes. That’s completely fine because the documentary isn’t about 9/11, it’s about a man doing this stunning “trick.” The 9/11 crashes will always be on one’s mind when the World Trade Center is brought up. It’s an event that will always be on the consciousness of all Americans. I wasn’t expecting a tribute for The Walk, but I was hoping there would at least be subtle, yet respectful, nod towards that terrible day. Let’s just say, this film handled it perfectly and didn’t disappoint. The World Trade Centers represent so much, and I think this is one of a handful of films that really respect the buildings.

Lastly, I’m really glad this film is rated PG. The film is perfectly acceptable for a family viewing (there is a brief Joseph Gordon-Levitt nude scene which, if anything, will make some parents happy). This is a thrilling film that kids can/will enjoy, without fantasy effects, robots, or vampires.

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