The story of Philippe Petit, a French high-wire artist who made headlines when he walked between the World Trade Center towers in 1974, has already been told in the 2008 documentary "Man on Wire" — one of the best documentaries in recent memory.

Now director Robert Zemeckis tackles Petit's story in "The Walk," a family friendly version that uses the hook of IMAX 3-D to bring in its audiences.

It's a calculation that proves to be effective, with the CGI re-creation the highlight of the film is an edge of the seat second half that redeems a rather pedestrian start.

"The Walk" focuses more on the act — with Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) assembling a team to help him realize his dream of walking between the two towers.

The first half of the film deals with the set-up, and if you have seen "Man on Wire" it's rather plodding and disappointing. Zemeckis turns the whole thing into almost a fantasy adventure, with Gordon-Levitt narrating the story from the Statue of Liberty.

As the set-up to the actual event unfolded, "The Walk" is mediocre at best.

Once Petit gets on the towers, it finds its stride thanks to Zemeckis and some beautiful CGI work.

The film takes full advantage of the IMAX format, with a breath-taking sequence on top of the towers that is unlike anything that has ever been seen.

It's an amazing technical re-creation, putting the audience on the wire with him. If, like me, you are afraid of heights the action feels all too real at times. This is movie magic at its best, the kind of work that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

I'm sure those who haven't seen "Man on Wire" will be a little easier on "The Walk" than those who have, but I think "The Walk" could have provided a little more insight into Petit.

If you want more story, seek out "Man on Wire."

If you crave something more along the lines of an amusement park ride, then "The Walk" will work just fine.

"The Walk" is rated PG for thematic elements involving perilous situations, and for some nudity, language, brief drug references and smoking and is now playing only in IMAX theaters, including the Opry Mills 20 in Nashville.

It opens nationwide in all formats on Oct. 9.


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