In 2008, James Marsh’s fascinating Man on Wire documented Philippe Petit’s legendary 1974 tightrope stroll between the WTC’s 418-meter Twin Towers. All without permission. Now Robert Zemeckis brings his big-screen talents to the tale, giving us a sort of avant-garde mainstream caper flick, emphasizing the pure spectacle.

A French-accented Joseph Gordon-Levitt is solid in the lead. Best of all, the photorealistic SFX, even the dizzying 3-D, support the story, and there’s good comic energy. Slow first hour compensated for by the sheer you-are-thereness of the final 30 minutes. Big screen, please. Don’t look down. (123 min)