I generally hate 3D films. Only a small handful of films have done it right (“Avatar” and “Hugo”), but most just tend to irritate me with the needless gimmick and burdensome glasses. But “The Walk” is an excellent showcase of how 3D can really enhance a film viewing experience.
Based on the true story of French artist and street performer Philippe Petit, “The Walk” is about his dream of walking on a high wire between the two World Trade Center towers and yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds. Imagine walking on a thin wire at a height of nearly 1,400 feet with no safety net and the winds swirling around you. I get shivers just thinking about it.
But more so than the actual feat itself, the film focuses on the journey and not the destination. Petit is obsessed with fulfilling his dream and plans months in advance with a team of accomplices to make it happen. The logistics of simply accessing the roof, let alone installing the wire and ensuring the physics of it all works makes his accomplishment that much more impressive. The only slight negative is that the audience already knows that Petit will succeed, so any tension that’s supposed to build up to the big moment is somewhat muted.
Director Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future” and “Forrest Gump”) is a pro at blending amazing visuals with great characters and story. The story may be a bit lacking due to its simplicity, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job of portraying Petit, and the visuals are simply astounding. While the visuals are obviously CGI, they do a great job of showcasing both Paris and New York City in a way that has never really been done before. We’ve all seen great cinematic love letters to these cities, but that’s where the 3D makes “The Walk” stand out. From the terrifying visual of looking down from 1,400 feet to the simple placement of a table lamp in a Parisian home, Zemeckis succeeds in making the audience feel as if they’re actually in the movie. Acrophobes may need to take some anxiety pills before seeing this movie.
“The Walk” is simplistic, yet fun to watch, and if there’s any film that demands to be seen on the big screen, this is it, especially in IMAX.