Everest (7/10)

Everest

The Storm Awaits.

Overview

Inspired by the incredible events surrounding a treacherous attempt to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, "Everest" documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest of elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival.

Metadata
Title Everest
Director of Photography Salvatore Totino
Runtime 2 h 01 min
Certification PG-13
Release Date 18 September 2015
Tagline The Storm Awaits.
IMDb Id tt2719848
Trailer

In 1992 Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), a Kiwi mountaineer, was the first to establish a commercial tourist business guiding (fit & wealthy) clients up Everest with his company Adventure Consultants, for $65,000 per person. With such an appealing income, other entrepreneurial mountaineers followed suit, offering the same climb for less money. Hall had a strong reputation for reliability and safety, and amongst the other mountaineering companies was known as The Mayor of Basecamp.

The movie chronicles the event of Hall’s 1996 climb with 8 clients that goes horribly wrong when the climbers get caught in a storm on the way down. I enjoyed the movie, but almost as a guilty pleasure as there is quite a bit wrong with it so let me get that out of the way first.

There are quite a few characters in the story, yet pretty much all of them are one-dimensional and we don’t get much more insight into their personalities or their drivers than what they leave as their first impressions on the screen. Amongst many more, we have The Texan Rich Guy (Josh Brolin), The Japanese Lady (Naoko Mori) who has already climbed 6 out of The 7 Peaks, The Mailman who failed on a previous attempt (John Hawkes), but in two hours we don’t truly care about these people. Not for complete lack of trying: there actually are little stories and arcs for each of these characters, but the stories are too small to really get you invested in any of them. We literally get a one line justification / explanation for each of these people as to why they are doing this climb, which is referenced again towards the end of the movie, thus completing the wafer-thin arcs…

Another climber on the team is Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), the journalist who survived the ordeal and wrote ‘Into Thin Air’ in 1997 about the disastrous climb; he could have been an obvious character to use to get more insight into people’s drivers and stories but we don’t get more than one scene with platitudes. Staying at home we also have two Worrying Wives played by Keira Knightly and Robin Wright respectively. On the mountain, to reduce the risks of a particulary busy climb, Rob Hall partners up with a competing guide Scott Fisher, played by Jake Gyllenhaal who comes across as an irresponsible stoner (well, his company is called Mountain Madness…), making decisions that should have gotten him killed instead… Oh, and Sam Worthington is also in the movie. I can’t quite remember what his role was; another undeveloped character.

But on the positive side, the overall story, especially being true, is still fascinating, thrilling and depressing… And as you would hope, there are plenty of beautiful shots of the scenery (many actually shot in the Italian Dolomites); the climbing scenes are generally pretty good; and the movie overall has a good build-up, pacing and flow.

During the climb, you do miss a sense of location: you rarely really understand where people are on the mountain, where they are in relation to others, and how far or difficult it is to make the next stage. It is more a connected stream of scenes of individual situations and incidents. In terms of the cinematography, various scenes had a surprising but distinct studio feel to them – the way they were very closely framed to only show the necessary actor(s) on a very small bit of snowy ledge with no fore- or background, and unnatural lighting, felt rather 70s disaster movie to me. I don’t know if these were actually shot in the studio, or whether this was a consequence of the re-framing necessary to go from the original IMAX source material to normal cinemascope proportions for general home release, but I noticed it (too) many times which was a bit distracting.

So it may be clear, this is not a movie you should think about too much – the more you reflect on it the weaker it gets. Just go into it for the cinematic experience and it is very, very watchable, with enough thrills to make for a fascinating disaster movie.

7/10 for the movie experience.

Everest (7/10)
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