Actors: Benedict Samuel, Ben Schwartz, Ben Kingsley, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Clément Sibony
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey, Jack Rapke
Format: NTSC, Subtitled, 3D, Ultraviolet
Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, Cantonese, Thai, Spanish, English
Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Thai, Spanish
Audio Description: English
Region: All Regions
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
The Walk is among the few films released in 3D where the format has been utilized in a way that is essential to the viewing experience. The final high-wire walk in the most obvious example of this, bringing audiences to the precipice between the Twin Towers in the same manner that Gravity transported viewers into space, but The Walk has much more than this climactic sequence to offer in both 2D and 3D. Despite being about 15-minutes too long in the middle section, Robert Zemeckis has created an energetic and spectacle-filled film, from the fast-paced beginning on the streets of
Paris to the thrilling finale
over the landscape of .
Most attention given to the 3D effects of The Walk focus on that final stunt, though Zemeckis wisely makes use of the format early on in the narrative in showing the whimsical beginnings of Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as a street performer. These early sequences set up the inspiration for the walk, long before even preparation had begun. Structuring the film as a heist narrative, Zemeckis spends a good amount of the running time for gathering accomplices and planning the efforts for Petit’s daredevil caper. This comes through the gradual evolution from mime to outlaw performer, and is moved along rather swiftly with an over-reliance on the protagonist’s own narration.
When Petit hears news of
New York City’s latest construction feat
in the ,
he knows that he has found the perfect place to hang his wire. When they were
built in the early 1970s, these two buildings were the tallest in the world,
and Petit realized that he had a brief window to accomplish his unsanctioned
stunt before the completion of construction caused an increase in security.
While the actual stunt is plenty exciting, there is actually far more suspense
in the illegal preparation leading up to those first steps. World Trade Center
But before we can get to these exciting sequences, Zemeckis wisely takes the time to build the relationships between the characters. Petit must learn how to master the wire at manageable heights first, which he does through a series of mistakes and the eventual guidance of a man who runs a circus, named Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley). We are also shown the various other ways that Petit meets those who will eventually help him on his quest, the most important of which also serves as a love interest within the narrative. Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) is a musician and fellow street performer in
whose greatest influence on the feat appears to be her belief in Petit’s
ability to succeed, which becomes more necessary as the film becomes bogged
down by his own self doubt. Paris
The first act of The Walk contains whimsy and charm, introducing the various players so that the actions of the third act hold weight. This final act is filled with all of the excitement of the caper and the majesty of that climactic sequence, but it is in the preparation in the second act that some of the devices become redundant. Far too much time is spent debating/discussing Petit’s sanity, usually with him being the first to bring up the discussion. This neurosis may be intended to raise the suspense leading up to the actual event, but The Walk works best when simply recounting the facts rather than attempting to investigate motivations. In the end, we all know Petit will inevitably reach his goal, so the buildup becomes unnecessary at a point.
The Blu-ray 3D combo pack also has a copy of the regular Blu-ray disc, as well as a Digital HD copy of the film. Though the scope of the film’s most effective 3D sequence is better suited for a theatrical viewing, there is still much to admire in the craftsmanship, whereas the early use of the format is actually easier to enjoy on a television screen. And those who are fine skipping this visual enhancement will still find the images of standard 2D high definition to be quite stunning, not to mention a compelling bit of human drama in another year of cinema riddled with robots, dinosaurs and aliens.
The special features are surprisingly sparse, containing only four extras, three of which are exclusive to the Blu-ray releases. These include a handful of deleted scenes (most of which are under a minute long), a featurette about the construction of the effects for the film’s iconic tightrope scene, and another about Gordon-Levitt’s process being taught to walk the wire by the real-life Philippe Petit. The one featurette also included on the DVD is a look at the supporting characters and the actors cast in the roles.
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10
Historical Significance: 8/10