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Robert Zemeckis
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte LeBon, James Badge Dale
Writing Credits:
Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Browne

Every dream begins with a single step

In 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit recruits a team of people to help him realize his dream: to walk the immense void between the World Trade Center towers.

Box Office:
$35 million.
Opening Weekend
$1,560,299 on 448 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:

123 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 1/5/2016

• Deleted Scenes
• “First Steps – Learning to Walk the Wire” Featurette
• “Pillars of Support” Featurette
• “The Amazing Walk” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Walk [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 27, 2015)

Based on a true story, 2015’s The Walk takes us back to the early 1970s. In Paris, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) struggles to make a living as a street performer. One day he sees a photo of the newly-constructed World Trade Center towers in New York City, and inspiration strikes.

What does Philippe plan to do to make his mark? He aspires to wire-walk across the span from one tower to the other. We follow the methods Philippe and his team use to plan this stunt and execute it.

Though the movie intrigued me, I didn’t see The Walk theatrically. This occurred for two reasons. First, I feared I’d suffer from motion sickness. This affects me primarily at “super-shakycam” movies like Cloverfield, but based on The Walk’s use of 3D, I thought I might suffer the same nauseated fate.

That wasn’t the main reason I skipped The Walk on the big screen, though. Instead, I failed to view it because it simply didn’t last long in theaters. Though I live in a major metropolitan area, The Walk came and went awfully quickly. By the time I’d heard enough about it to pique my interest, the movie had vanished.

I don’t know exactly why The Walk failed to connect with US audiences. Director Robert Zemeckis has enjoyed pretty consistent commercial success – so much that the miserable box office returns of The Walk seem stunning.

Of Zemeckis’s 17 directorial efforts, The Walk made less money than all but one of them: 1978’s I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Even 1980’s largely forgotten Used Cars performed better – and that’s without adjusting grosses for inflation.

I don’t mean to obsess over box office, but I simply can’t figure out why The Walk flopped so hard. It’s a movie made by a director with decades of hits behind him and it includes a good cast. The Walk also got fairly wide distribution and received excellent reviews.

Whatever the case, The Walk did bomb, and I can’t say I regard that as a tragedy. While the film redeems itself somewhat by its end, the path to that point tests patience.

Walk presents a more severe three-act structure than most movies, as each section focuses on different goals. Act One introduces Philippe and sets him on his path, Act Two shows the planning and set-up for the walk, and Act Three concentrates on the stunt itself.

This means Walk nearly feels like three different films. Act One comes across as dreamy and romantic, while Act Two offers a slick, Ocean’s 11 vibe. Act Three turns more into a suspense story, as we follow the tension that relates to Philippe’s stunt.

Unquestionably, Act Three fares best, as it easily tops the first three-fourths of the movie. The truth is that I don’t think the story offers enough substance to fill a two-hour movie – at least not as explored here. Even with all that time at its disposal, Walk never manages to make Philippe into an especially rich character. He comes across as a generic Man with a Dream, and not one whose motives or aspirations seem all that clear. I guess we’re supposed to buy into his goals because it’s a movie – we never understand Philippe in a strong manner.

This makes Act One extremely slow going. The romance between Philippe and Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) lacks sparkle, and Philippe’s apprenticeship with master wire-walker “Papa Rudy” (Ben Kingsley) feels perfunctory.

Matters improve during the more fast-paced Act Two, but not to a tremendous degree. The supporting characters remain bland and forgettable, and Zemeckis can’t deliver a “heist plan” in a provocative manner.

Much of the fun from Ocean’s 11 came from the cast of thieves assembled and all the machinations that went into the scheme’s gestation, but Walk lacks any of the same sizzle or excitement. As Philippe and company plan and execute “the walk”, the movie occasionally shows some life, but it usually remains dull.

This leaves Act Three to redeem the film, and as I alluded earlier, it does – sort of. Honestly, the first 90 minutes seem so sluggish that almost nothing could forgive them, but the climax comes pretty close.

We all know how the story ends, so Act Three lacks the “will he survive?” tension that otherwise might exist. Nonetheless, Zemeckis manages to wring a lot of drama out of the walk, largely via the “you are there” photography that places the viewer out on the wire with Philippe. The movie brings the audience into the adventure and makes the finale a delightfully nerve-wracking experience.

The Walk also handles the specter of 9/11 in a tasteful, emotional way. The movie doesn’t actively remind us of that day’s events – indeed, it doesn’t even mention the date or what happened.

Instead, we get oblique reminders. It doesn’t seem like this should work, but it’s surprisingly emotional, and I appreciate the simplicity and restraint involved.

If only the first three-fourths of The Walk were as good as its final third, I’d give it a wholehearted recommendation. Since so much of the movie plods, though, I find myself torn. The last act works awfully well, but it takes patience to get there.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

The Walk appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie boasted a mostly appealing presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed good but not great. Occasional soft shots materialized, perhaps related to a variety of post-production techniques. Despite those examples, the movie usually appeared well-defined. I saw no jagged edges or moiré effects, and the film lacked edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

In terms of palette, The Walk favored a fairly standard orange and teal look. These tendencies didn’t overwhelm, as the hues stayed mostly subdued. The tones appeared well-reproduced for the movie’s intentions. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows showed nice clarity for the most part; a few low-light shots came across as a bit murky, but not to a substantial degree. In the end, this became a satisfying image.

Similar thoughts greeted the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Given the lack of real action on display, The Walk tended toward a mix heavy on environmental material, and it created a good sense of place and atmosphere. A few more dynamic sequences added some pizzazz, but the track mostly concentrated on general ambience, and it worked well in that regard. <

Audio quality seemed solid. Music was full and rich, while effects offered good accuracy and punch. Speech was concise and crisp. Nothing about the mix dazzled, but the soundtrack fit the tale.

Seven Deleted Scenes run a total of five minutes, 44 seconds. In these, we get a handful of short snippets that add a little character depth. None of them seem memorable.

First Steps – Learning to Walk the Wire lasts nine minutes, 11 seconds and includes notes from director Robert Zemeckis, wire walker Philippe Petit and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. “Steps” looks at Gordon-Leviitt’s training. It’s good to see the real Petit, and the show offers some interesting details.

Next comes the eight-minute, 27-second Pillars of Support. It features remarks from Gordon-Levitt, Zemeckis, and actors Charlotte Le Bon, Clement Sibony, Cesar Domboy, James Badge Dale, Steve Valentine, Ben Schwartz, Benedict Samuel and Ben Kingsley. “Pillars” offers a quick overview of the supporting cast and characters. The featurette seems decent but superficial.

With The Amazing Walk. we get a 10-minute, 48-second featurette with info from Zemeckis, Gordon-Levitt, Petit, production designer Naomi Shohan, visual effects supervisor Kevin Baillie, and producer Steve Starkey. The program gives us a brief discussion of Petit’s walk and its depiction on film. “Amazing” throws out a handful of insights about effects and 3D but it remains forgettable.

The disc opens with ads for Aloha, Ricki and the Flash, Concussion and Risen. These reappear under Previews. We get no trailer for The Walk.

To a certain degree, The Walk feels like 90 minutes of build-up. The movie comes together in its final act, but that first three-fourths can be tough sledding. The Blu-ray offers pretty positive picture and audio as well as a handful of supplements. The film’s finale nearly redeems it, but it’s a slow ride to get there.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.25 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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