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Review: Everest

Everest
09.16.2015
7 10

PLOT: Based on a true story, EVEREST recounts the 1996 expedition to the summit of Mount Everest by several groups of climbers, some experienced, some not, that resulted in multiple fatalities.

REVIEW: The trailers may bill EVEREST as an edge-of-your-seat thriller replete with stunning IMAX 3D cinematography guaranteed to make you feel as if you're 20,000 feet above sea level, but it is not a thrillride in the least. While the film does indeed feature spectacular visuals and a few sequences that'll give your heart palpitations, EVEREST is ultimately a somber tale about a group of people slowing dying on a mountain. It's a big bummer, if we're being honest, but an undoubtedly effective dramatization of a tragic true story.  

EVEREST was directed by Baltasar Kormakur, who made the two passable/forgettable action-thrillers CONTRABAND and 2 GUNS, and here displays a solid grip on far more serious material. EVEREST begins as sort of rousing adventure filled with standard movie caricatures  - it reminds you a little of a disaster movie's first act - but eventually transforms into a punishing lesson in the futility of battling Mother Nature. Not exactly inspirational, the film serves as yet another reminder (as if we needed one) that nature doesn't care about you, your mates, your pregnant wife, your family, your perseverance, any of that. You don't play in the neighborhoods she doesn't want you to. The film isn't quite as cold as the elements; Kormakur understandably lets sentimentality creep in, especially when focusing on the doomed characters' loved ones and friends who nervously await updates, but let it be known that EVEREST is frequently low-key, depressing stuff; not an experience that'll leave you booking your next big adventure.

If you don't quite recollect the details (I was guilty of this prior to the film), the film chronicles the ill-fated trip to the summit of Mount Everest by several groups of people in 1996, when extreme tourism was at its peak. Weekend warriors with fat wallets would pay thousands of dollars to get a bigtime thrill out of something like climbing a mountain you're really not supposed to be able to - as Jason Clarke's Rob Hall puts it, your body is literally dying when it's up that high. (Here's the part where I would comically shout, "Check please!") Rob is the founder of Adventure Consultants, a New Zealand-based operation specializing in bringing those weekend warriors to amazing heights. But he's far from alone; like everything else on the planet, Everest has practically become commercialized, hence there are plenty of groups fighting for positioning on the mountain. You'd think a gigantic object like Everest could sustain a few dozen people, but when you realize the paths are narrow and the windows of time when you can actually reach the peak are quite small, you understand why Rob is more than a little wary of this logjam of climbers.

EVEREST's script (by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy) presents Rob's group in broad strokes; there's Doug (John Hawkes), a timid mailman who just missed making the full climb a year earlier; Beck (Josh Brolin) a full-blooded, gung-ho Texan; Yasuko (Naoko Mori), a gentle woman who has climbed the six other tallest mountains in the world; Jon (Michael Kelly), a writer for an outdoorsman magazine. These characters are fairly one-dimensional, and once they've told us their story they're sticking to it. Rob's crew is composed of den mother Helen (Emily Watson); Rob's right-hand man Harold (Martin Henderson) and best friend Guy (Sam Worthington), and again, these characters aren't given much in the way of great depth, but the cast is strong and the actors handle their slight characterizations well. Jake Gyllenhaal makes an impression in a supporting role as Scott, Rob's cocky rival whose go-for-it personality doesn't correlate with his physical state. Even the often thankless roles of the worried wives at home - here played by Keira Knightley and Robin Wright - are made effective thanks to the actresses' vivid performances.

But the true stars of EVEREST are the mountain ranges and director of photography Salvatore Totino (often Ron Howard's D.P.); the vistas painted here are marvelous, and Totino ably captures how very small the hikers look when up against the mammoth mountain. Seen in IMAX 3D, some of the more breath-taking moments in the film might literally take your breath away. If nothing else, EVEREST is a testament to the visual power of large-scale movies, where tangible locations speak for themselves and the screen isn't awash in noticeable CG (though of course there's still digital magic on display, quite seamlessly). You certainly will feel like you are there, and that's worth the price of admission alone.

The film's third act is both its reason for existing and its most troublesome section. The climb to the top goes awry for a variety of reasons - not enough oxygen, brutal storms, too much time wasted - and soon our characters are scattered about the mountain, basically awaiting their fates. Since everyone is (obviously) covered up in parkas and gear, it's often hard to get a handle on who's who and where they are in relation to one another, and the fact that we cut from one indistinguishable group to another while flurries obscure their identities doesn't help emotionally invest us . Some solid acting is still on display, yes, but the audience is left to simply watch as most of these characters lose their faculties and shiver to unconsciousness. There aren't any heroics, no action-movie adrenalin rushes; it's a rather slow, sad race to the finish line. That's the way it happened, of course, but in purely cinematic terms it's not very dynamic. EVEREST remains a visceral experience, overall, and thanks to its impressive scenery and likable cast, it's a good movie. But its slightly messy, inscrutable conclusion - not to mention the somewhat thinly drawn depictions of real-life people - leaves it short of being a 2015 high point.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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3:47AM on 09/18/2015
I was going to check it out this weekend, but I think I'll pass now. I was planning to see this based on the fact that it was a thrilling disaster movie. The fact that it is so depressing does not interest me in seeing this right away. I trust it is good and will see it eventually, but I don't feel like being this depressed by a film in theaters at the moment.
I was going to check it out this weekend, but I think I'll pass now. I was planning to see this based on the fact that it was a thrilling disaster movie. The fact that it is so depressing does not interest me in seeing this right away. I trust it is good and will see it eventually, but I don't feel like being this depressed by a film in theaters at the moment.
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12:58PM on 09/19/2015
You wont see this movie because its not a large scale disaster film? You sound stupid. It is not depressing its s true story of human error and survival.
You wont see this movie because its not a large scale disaster film? You sound stupid. It is not depressing its s true story of human error and survival.
3:08PM on 09/16/2015
Saw the 1998 IMAX documentary 'EVEREST'. It was spectacular and covered much of the same ground, as it were.
Saw the 1998 IMAX documentary 'EVEREST'. It was spectacular and covered much of the same ground, as it were.
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1:03PM on 09/16/2015

Hmmm

This sounds sort of like how Open Water played out. Though i'm sure the events in Everest are far more interesting.
This sounds sort of like how Open Water played out. Though i'm sure the events in Everest are far more interesting.
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12:50PM on 09/16/2015
Glad to see this get an 8/10 from JoBlo. I only read the opening and closing paragraphs of the review, as I don't want to alter my expectations too much before I see it, but this confirms my suspicions that this movie wasn't going to be as intense or disaster-heavy as the trailers made it out to be.
Glad to see this get an 8/10 from JoBlo. I only read the opening and closing paragraphs of the review, as I don't want to alter my expectations too much before I see it, but this confirms my suspicions that this movie wasn't going to be as intense or disaster-heavy as the trailers made it out to be.
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12:34PM on 09/16/2015
Glad to read the positive review. The film looks absolutely terrific and am excited to see another man vs nature film (last great one I can remember was The Grey). Everest is also one of few remaining big films I'm looking forward to this year as well.
Glad to read the positive review. The film looks absolutely terrific and am excited to see another man vs nature film (last great one I can remember was The Grey). Everest is also one of few remaining big films I'm looking forward to this year as well.
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5:15PM on 09/16/2015
Everest
Black Mass
Sicario
Star Wars
Spectre
The Martian
Creed
99 Homes
Legend
The Walk
Steve Jobs
Crimson Peak
Bridge of Spies
Trumbo
The Good Dinosaur
Krampus
In the heart of the sea
H8teful Eight
The Revenant

soooo out of all those movies. Everest is one of your last ones you wanna see? lol come on now.
Everest
Black Mass
Sicario
Star Wars
Spectre
The Martian
Creed
99 Homes
Legend
The Walk
Steve Jobs
Crimson Peak
Bridge of Spies
Trumbo
The Good Dinosaur
Krampus
In the heart of the sea
H8teful Eight
The Revenant

soooo out of all those movies. Everest is one of your last ones you wanna see? lol come on now.
10:58PM on 09/16/2015
You're right. I realized the mistake I had made the second I wrote my post.
You're right. I realized the mistake I had made the second I wrote my post.
7:34AM on 09/17/2015
I know whenever we reach september, it feels like the end of the year, but there is still 4 months (3 and a half now) thats a third of the year.
I know whenever we reach september, it feels like the end of the year, but there is still 4 months (3 and a half now) thats a third of the year.
12:59PM on 09/19/2015
To tell you the truth that list of movies has me more excited than any of the shit I watched over the summer...
To tell you the truth that list of movies has me more excited than any of the shit I watched over the summer...
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