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Everest
BLU-RAY disk
01.26.2016 By: Paul Shirey
Everest order download
Director:
Baltasar Kormákur

Actors:
Jason Clarke
Jake Gyllenhaal
Keira Knightley
Josh Brolin
Martin Henderson
John Hawkes

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
On the morning of May 10, 1996, climbers from two commercial expeditions start their final ascent toward the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. With little warning, a violent storm strikes the mountain, engulfing the adventurers in one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man. Challenged by the harshest conditions imaginable, the teams must endure blistering winds and freezing temperatures in an epic battle to survive against nearly impossible odds.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?

EVEREST is one hell of an exhausting watch. I don't mean that in a bad way, but if you're someone that gets anxious watching people go through some seriously harsh experiences then keep your Xanex handy for this one. I was white-knuckled and grimacing like I was about to get a shot at the doctor's office throughout EVEREST and it's probably more of a testament to the power of the film, capturing the experience of the 1996 expedition that went awry, costing the lives of eight people.

Director Baltasar Kormákur (2 GUNS) makes a beautifully shot, yet harrowing film out of EVEREST, complete with a solid line-up of actors to make it all the more convincing and gut-wrenching, including a great turn from lead Jason Clarke as one of the expedition guides, Jake Gyllenhaal as an enigmatic guide, and Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, and Michael Kelly as climbers attempting the ascent. There's some gorgeous cinematography that probably popped beautifully in 3D, but still shines in 2D nonetheless. If the film does nothing else for you, it should at least provide some pretty scenery from a very dangerous place.

Of course, pretty isn't the key word in this film, as the beauty quickly turns to ugly disaster as the climbers and guides are swept up in a storm that robs them of oxygen, sight, strength, and resources, forcing them to fight to survive in the worst possible conditions. It's intense as hell and, if anything, makes you question the risk of climbing a mountain of that magnitude to begin with. And, perhaps that's one of the aspects that's not as strong as it should be. While the performances are strong across the board, the "why" of what everyone does isn't explored enough to make the viewer really invested in their journey. Certainly you feel enough to want everyone to survive, but the driving force of why they're there is skimmed over too lightly to really give that emotional gut punch that's needed when one of them succumbs to the mountain.

With so many players, you can't delve into each and every life story, but I couldn't help but feel I wanted to know more about the key individuals that both lived and died in this expedition. There is also some difficulty in discerning how and why everything went so wrong. Obviously a bad storm can mess anyone up at that altitude, but with so many events happening at once (it tracks 3 different expeditions at once) it became difficult to keep it all in focus. Perhaps that's the point to some degree, but with so many moving pieces at once it becomes a game of trying to remember who is who and, more importantly, where each character is at any given time.

As mountain climbing movies go, EVEREST is a top notch tale, even if it doesn't reach the heights the people it portrays were trying to reach. Fine performances, gorgeous visuals, and a masterful score by Dario Marianelli help an oftentimes confusing, yet intense sequence of events that will either dissuade or inspire you to pack up your gear and start climbing. I prefer the version from the safety of my living room, as EVEREST is more than enough to show me what I'd be in for.

THE EXTRAS

Race to the Summit: The Making of Everest: Highlights the shooting conditions, real-world locations, including the real Everest, and much more.

Learning to Climb: Details the cast preparing for the harsh shoot, including extensive training and acclimation for it.

A Mountain of Work: Focuses on how digital and set environments were created for the shoot where on location wasn't possible.

Aspiring to Authenticity: The Real Story: A look at the importance of getting the story right with interviews from cast, crew, and family of those involved in the incident.

Audio Commentary: Director Baltasar Kormákur goes in-depth on the conditions of making the film, the cast, technical aspects, locations, and commentary on the real story and how involved the survivors and family members were in bringing it to life.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS

EVEREST is one of the better mountain climbing pics put to film. Striking visuals, strong performances from a diverse cast, and a white-knuckle pace throughout, it lacks in the character development department, but is still a terrific watch and a striking portrait of survival.

The blu-ray plays beautifully and the visuals will stand out on a big-screen TV, particularly the wide, panoramic shots that really give you a sense of how big the mountain is (and how small we are). Turn out the lights and prepare to be immersed in an intense few hours.

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