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The Walk (Blu-ray Review)

WalkAcademy Award® winning Director Robert Zemeckis, (Best Director, Forrest Gump, 1994) uses cutting edge technology to bring to life the true story of THE WALK, debuting on Digital HD Dec. 22 and on Two-Disc 3D Blu-rayCombo Pack, Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 5 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper) stars as Philippe Petit, a young dreamer who brings together a band of unlikely recruits to achieve the impossible: a wire walk in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. With little more than nerve and blind ambition, Petit and his ragtag crew overcome daunting physical obstacles, betrayals, countless close calls and overwhelming odds to beat the system and execute their mad plan. THE WALK also stars Academy Award® winner Sir Ben Kingsley (Best Actor, Gandhi, 1982), Charlotte Le Bon (Yves Saint Laurent), James Badge Dale (World War Z) and Ben Schwartz (“Parks and Recreation”).

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Film 

Twelve men have walked on the moon, but only one man – Philippe Petit – has ever walked in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. Guided by his real-life mentor, Papa Rudy, and aided by an unlikely band of international recruits, Petit and his gang overcome long odds, betrayals, dissension and countless close calls to conceive and execute their mad plan. 

The Walk is one I wanted to see in IMAX 3D when it released in theaters, but just wasn’t able to find the time (With a wife and two kids it gets tougher and tougher).  My wife is a big Joseph Gordon Levitt fan, but she gets motion sickness and stuff with 3-D movies a lot and when she saw the trailer gave me a resound “Hell no, only at home”.  But, I was happy when Brian offered it to me, and while I was watching in 2-D in my home, I can imagine and appreciate the craft that came with it.

Robert Zemeckis has a film that ho hums it kind of through an overlong first act and second act setup, but makes up for it in his heist-styled finale.  He directs the hell out of it, making the whole experience that led up to it (Its not bad, just a bit long) fully worth the wait.  His sense of depth, scale and suspense are amazing.   All of which was done in post and not shot with 3-D cameras.

One area that I immediately almost turned on the film with was how its told.  And, honestly, its pretty bad, but I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the film at hand are strong enough to overcome it.  His character, perched atop the Statue of Liberty sits and tells the story of all this and narrates feelings and emotions throughout.  Its an old and rather lame device, and its still not good here, but the rest of the film is good enough that it starts to matter less and less as the film progresses.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt rocks here as the tightrope walker.  The man is always committed and I can’t recall a time in the last ten years or so where he put in a subpar performance.  He surrounded with some familiar, some slightly familiar and some newer faces.  Ben Kingsley puts in a solid cameo’ish performance as his mentor and James Badge Dale continues to flourish as he has in the past few years with a smaller scene stealing role.

I can’t tell you how many restaurants, offices, school books or whatnot had a picture of this incredible event plastered somewhere.  I never really knew the story of it all (Or realized that it was illegally performed), so this film intrigued me.  Growing up a fan of magicians, illusionists and escape artists, this thing was right up my alley.  And Zemeckis and company have put together quite a suspenseful and immersive film even if you’re aware of the outcome and know its history.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  Sony put this out, so you can rather just assume its perfection.  What I like about the image is how it carries a very 1970s look with a hint of wonder, art and fantasy with it.  Its crisp, sharp and effective in all its glorious high wire sequences.

Depth:  Outstanding depth here.  This was a 3D post convert, not shot in 3D.  Even in 2D this thing is quite a spectacle with its depth on the high wire acts, be it the Twin Towers or just 5 feet up from the ground.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich and inky.  Being as Philippe wears a lot of black, you can still see dirt on it, wrinkles and snags.  The shading and nighttime sequences look lovely.

Color Reproduction:  A blue filter looms all over this movie.  The tone of things here keep that sort of gritty 1970s look to it and don’t go over the top with being vivid.  Yellow come across strong and bold.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural with a hint of coldness.  Details on facial features are very high and any view you’ll be able to pick up stubble, wrinkles, blemishes and the like.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Descriptive Audio Service, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

Dynamics:  Like the video, the sound here is superb as well.  The secret isn’t how in your face this one is, but the sense of space and area it creates.  Normal everyday sounds and the like come across impressive and lifelike in their audibility.  Effects and the like are well rounded too.  The score is beautifully woven in here and really makes itself felt.

Low Frequency Extension:  Don’t mistake no booming moments as a failure, this one plays a more complimentary role with the subwoofer and does an excellent job at doing so.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Here’s the key to this track and its in the ambiance.  All five channels pull their weight to make New York sound alive, to make the top of the twin towers airy and real.  Its a pretty remarkable track that manages to replicate its environments in your viewing space with good accuracy.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp with good clarity and set to a perfect volume.

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Extras 

The Walk comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 5:44) 

First Steps: Learning To Walk The Wire (HD, 9:11) – This featurette goes over Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s training with the real life Philippe Petit, the art of walking the wire and pulling off the spectacle.

Pillars of Support (HD, 8:27) – A piece based around all the supporting characters and actors with interviews of all of them telling what they bring to the table.

The Amazing Walk (HD, 10:48) – The film’s cast and crew, along with Philippe Petit discuss the real life walk, what it meant at the time and its legacy.

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Summary 

This is pretty easy.  Here’s a solid movie with a superb Blu-ray presentation and a decent bit of extras.  I don’t know what more to say aside from you getting your money’s worth with a purchase.  I guess it more comes down to how much you actually like the movie.  Technical merits strong, bonus material decent, a nicely texture slip cover if you’re into that, its a good solid Blu-ray release of a modern film.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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