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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Review of Pan & The Walk

Dearest Blog: With an insanely busy weekend looming in front of me, it was down to Friday afternoon to cover cinema duties. 
On the agenda were two movies that, if we're being honest, I'd have been just as happy to skip: Pan and The Walk.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the various trailers and IMDB listings.
First up: Pan, a Peter Pan origins story. (Yes, Hollywood is apparently *that* desperate!)
By now you've undoubtedly heard that Pan is terrible, and, even worse in many people's eyes, a box office flop. Both of these statements are undeniably true, but there are some qualifiers, so, first, let's get to the positives...
Kid actors. Even when they're good for kid actors, they're not always GOOD, but Pan lucked out with its Peter, Levi Miller. A movie riding on a kid star walks a fine line between precociously adorable and annoyingly snotty, but Miller falls firmly on the good side. Pan boasts some lovely locations and sets, and costumes and makeup--while not always to my taste--are unique and interesting. Pan's best feature by far, though, is a soaring score by John Powell that is good enough to make the movie's many other failings almost entirely forgivable.
Now the bad news...
While Hugh Jackman's booming delivery and exaggerated mannerisms might serve him well on the stage, here he'd have done better to dial it back a notch or ten. 
Garrett Hedlund's Hook bears no resemblance to the pirate of lore, but rather looks like a poor-man's Indiana Jones and sounds like someone doing the world's worst impression of Dr. McCoy from the newest Star Trek movies. It's so awful it'll give you a start every time the man opens his mouth. Odd choices that would have looked like genius, had they played well, only end up providing a couple WTF moments. (Some old-school punk or 90s grunge, anyone?) 
Finally, the movie is so dark that even bright daylight scenes appear dingy, a possible side-effect of seeing a 3D movie in 2D because the schedule said so. It's clear the folks who crafted Pan threw as much money as they could at the screen, and it's clear they wanted that to be garishly obvious, so the middling box office was bound to be a disappointment; Pan was a "flop" before it ever got out of the gate.
Pan clocks in at 111 minutes and is rated PG13 for "fantasy action violence, language, and some thematic material."
It may be terrible, and it may be a flop, but Pan is still strangely enjoyable at times. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Pan gets five.
Next on the docket: The Walk.
French high-wire artist Philippe Petit captivates the world with a daring illegal walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
Dear reader(s): I'ma be straight: My preconception of The Walk was the same as Gravity, that is, I expected the movie to be visually stunning and boring as hell. 
As with Gravity, though, I was too hasty in judgment.
The Walk IS visually stunning. When you hear the 3D is making people throw up, BELIEVE IT. I was forced by the schedule to endure 3D myself; I'm not particularly skittish about heights--this is not to say I'm eager to do a high-wire walk anytime soon, either!--but I still I had to look away more than a few times. The visuals from both ground and air level are quite spectacular. Joseph Gordon-Levitt pulls double-duty as Petit, the movie's star and narrator, and his supreme charm is once again in full effect. It's literally impossible to dislike Gordon-Levitt, though I found his French accent to be a bit distracting. 
He does a fine job of it, but, as with David Tennant's American accent in Gracepoint, it's just so weird coming out of his face that it feels very noticeable all the time. 
The supporting cast, outside of Ben Kingsley, will be mostly unrecognizable to fans on this side of the pond, but they are uniformly solid. The Walk would have been smart to take a page from Gravity's book and rein it in at about 90 minutes, but other than a bit of bloat, it's a pretty fantastic film. 
Where the movie is most successful, though, where it's really, really effective, is not with top-notch 3D or engaging actors. At its heart, The Walk is a love letter to the Twin Towers, a heartbreaking declaration of affection from Petit and the filmmakers to those big, beautiful buildings that now live only in memory. I didn't anticipate that aspect, so for me it was a pleasant surprise that turned a good movie into a great one (and left me a blubbering mess).
The Walk runs 123 minutes and is rated PG13 for "thematic elements involving perilous situations, and for some nudity, language, brief drug references, and smoking."
The Walk is a film of great visual magnificence, but it's real beauty is in its heart. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, the Walk gets seven and a half.
Until next time...

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