But let's discuss what the film does have going for it, before trying to figure out what's missing. The film is light, colorful and whimsical. Above all else, it's a great film to let the eyes take in. It has a Tim Burtonish feel, the kind when he's NOT playing with gothic palettes (ie Big Fish, Big Eyes, the dream sequences in Sweeney Todd, and the period piece feel of Dark Shadows) coupled with Amelie and Moulin Rouge (all movies I adore, for the record...minus Shadows) The visuals are spectacular, and during the film's climax the 3D really shines (though I'm not sure if it's really worth it for the entirety fo the film.) For example, I LOVED the perspective shots of Phillipe looking at his feet, because it really makes the audience see things from his perspective. This visual element is one of the film's biggest strengths and definitely makes for a pleasant viewing experience. Its other strength is how well crafted the tension is during "the coup." While the first half of the film is a cheerily brisk lesson in how Philippe Petit and his aspirations came to be, the second half ups the strain on the audience as difficulties arise to achieve his dream in tightrope walking between the Twin Towers. If you're not good with heights (and really, who is??) you'll have plenty of uncomfortable moments toward the end...and the 3D only intensifies that.
The Walk is a film I really admire, but don't love; there are three reasons for that and they all in one way or another revolve around our protagonist played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Firstly, the film deploys a framing device where Phillipe breaks the fourth wall and tells us all about the events of the film, after the fact. There's a uniqueness to the approach the way it's done to be sure, but after awhile it took me out of the film with how often they went back to it. Also, as I mentioned before...the film requires a suspension of disbelief and the biggest is whether or not you can buy all American Joseph Gordon-Levitt (we'll call him JGL for short from here on out,) as a true Frenchman. His scenes are more convincing when he's not breaking the fourth wall and has someone else to play off of, but every time he was alone addressing the audience I was reminded of some of the faux art films he appeared in, in his earlier film (500) Days of Summer, and it made things feel a little inauthentic here too.
However, once again on the plus side, I must say that they handled the ending with absolute care. There comes a moment where you wonder if the filmmakers are going to turn exploitative or maudlin in their remembrance of the Twin Towers, but the film ends on the perfect note in paying them tribute without drudging up the past for the sake of manipulating the audience. EMILY RATING: 8/10
Still, this film is enough of a crowd-pleaser that if you want to ignore this cynical critic's findings, you can easily do so. There's enough enjoyment and amiability to be found, just not a lot of originality or depth either. If nothing else you can ogle Anne Hathaway's adorable wardrobe. EMILY RATING: 6/10
HERE. Naturally, nowadays a film achieving such mild success begs for another installment to be made and thus we have opening today its sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. The first film had its small charms, which mostly relied on the fact that the premise was simple and easy to follow. Does the sequel match the tone of the original and live up to its slight amiability? It doesn't take too long to find out.
I loved The Sixth Sense and the three films Shyamalan wrote and directed after (yes, even Signs and The Village haters,) so even though he's made some truly terrible films since those hits, I'm always rooting for him to make a comeback. I went into The Visit desperately hoping that this might be it, but also trying to keep my expectations low. This didn't end up being too hard a feat when once the movie began, those expectations immediately plummeted. For the first 40 minutes or so, I was pretty sure this movie was terrible. It takes a loooong time for this movie to click into place, and unfortunately for some viewers, they might have already made up their mind about it by the time it does. There's no way around it...the beginning is kind of clunky, as you're not really sure whether or not you're gonna be able to stand the two protagonists for the course of the film or if you can buy the premise. I had my arms firmly crossed and was rolling my eyes left and right. It looked like we had another dud on our hands.
The shock factor (in both horror and comedy elements,) isn't the only thing I found to be enjoyable though. The further you go along, the more you do start to warm up to the characters and see the type of scenes that endeared you to Shyamalan in the first place. He earns some really nice character moments that in other films by other directors can often come out cheap. The Visit is no home run, and I certainly wouldn't declare it "Shyamalan's comeback," but rather, it serves as a reminder that this man was once a great talent and he might still have a few tricks up his sleeve just yet. EMILY RATING: 7/10.
Edit: And if that's not enough of my opinion on The Visit, check out my thoughts on the following two podcasts, my usual War Machine vs. War Horse and my long awaited guest stint on my buddy Kent's podcast Baconsale.