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Movie review: 'Walk' tripped up

The Fresno Bee

How much you like "The Walk" will depend heavily on whether or not you have seen the amazing 2008 Oscar-winning documentary "Man on a Wire" by James Marsh.tmpplchld Both deal with the daredevil stunt pulled by Philippe Petit in 1974 to walk a tightrope stretched between the twin towers in New York City. His actions were illegal but so incredible that even jaded New Yorkers applauded the stunt.tmpplchld The documentary reveals in brilliant fashion the planning and execution of what Petit and his band of merry lawbreakers had to go through to pull off the performance that made headlines around the world. Only the team from "Ocean's Eleven" showed more cunning, planning and stealth.tmpplchld All of those elements are covered in the fictionalized version of the event presented by director Robert Zemeckis. Once the film reaches the moment when Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) steps onto the wire stretched 140 feet between the 110-story buildings, Zemeckis shows his masterful skill at turning the camera into another player in the game.tmpplchld It's getting there that is trying.tmpplchld The weakness is the long buildup to get to the most death-defying moments. Saddled with an unending narration by Gordon-Levitt in a French accent that makes Steve Martin's remake of "The Pink Panther" sound like a trip to the French Embassy, the movie starts slowly.tmpplchld Much of the narration has Petit standing on the torch of the Statue of Liberty with the New York skyline behind him. The France-America connection is a little too on the nose, and the scenes feel like footnotes added to show a little of Petit's character.tmpplchld The narration drones on and on to the point of annoyance. As shown in "Man on a Wire," this event is spectacular enough to speak on its own.tmpplchld Between the bad accent and a soundtrack that sounds like it came from a '50s French crime caper, the majority of "The Walk" fails to be either a revealing tale of one man's impossible dream or a peek into the elaborate planning it took to pull off the walk in the sky. It took Petit six years to plan the twin towers walk, but the Zemeckis film doesn't create the feeling that this was such an obsession that Petit was willing to commit so much of his life to.tmpplchld Even with the annoying narration, "The Walk" hits new heights once Petit takes his first step on the wire between the twin towers. Even knowing the outcome of the events that unfolded that August morning, Zemeckis creates a razor-sharp tension that's balanced with a spiritual serenity that Petit found with this ultimate performance.tmpplchld The 3-D effect on IMAX isn't as spectacular as would be expected, and that takes away from the visual impact. But it's still good enough to make the final moments strong enough to make up for a lot of the meandering done in the beginning.tmpplchld "The Walk" is a pale copy of "Man on a Wire." It does redeem itself in the final 40 minutes, but it still may be best to wait and see the movie at home where you can turn down Gordon-Levitt's exasperating narration and just look at the magic that comes when one man defies gravity.tmpplchld ___tmpplchld 'THE WALK'tmpplchld 2.5 starstmpplchld Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bontmpplchld Directed by Robert Zemeckistmpplchld Running time: 123 minutestmpplchld Rated PG for perilous situations, smoking, brief nudity, languagetmpplchld ___tmpplchld (c)2015 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)tmpplchld Visit The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.) at www.fresnobee.comtmpplchld Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.tmpplchld

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