Friday, September 18, 2015


Based on a true story, Everest recounts the events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. There have been plenty of mountain climbing movies over the years and Everest does little to break from the pack. Working against the movie is the extended opening which plays like a Travel Channel infomercial attempting to sell the audience on traveling to Nepal to climb the world's biggest mountain with the help of experts like Rob Hall's (Jason Clarke) Adventure Consultants.

The climbers themselves are the typical hodgepodge of one-note characters you always expect to see in movies like this with a couple of stand-outs (Clarke, John Hawkes, and Josh Brolin) while the rest (Martin Henderson, Tom Goodman-Hill, Naoko Mori, Michael Kelly, among others) quickly fade into the background. The movie picks up a bit once the climbers begin their ascent of the mountain in earnest and the disaster porn part of the plot kicks in.

The film, and the scale of the undertaking, is certainly helped in IMAX 3D. As a theatrical experience Everest does have something to offer (even if the story feels more straight-to-DVD). It's certainly not a must-see, but it works as escapist entertainment.

The film's cast is rather large including several other groups of climbers that seemingly all disappear at the same time (weren't they all planning to reach the summit on the same date?). Headlining this group are Jake Gyllenhaal and Sam Worthington as climbers from other teams who are so periphery to the story they aren't entirely necessary for the film's plot. We also get supporting performances thousands of miles away from Keira Knightley and Robin Wright as the wives of two of the climbers who become trapped on the mountain during a sudden storm. Along with Emily Watson, who plays Adventure Consultants' base camp commander on the mountain, the three women do what they can to instill some emotion to the otherwise runaway testosterone-fueled disaster movie.

Despite some stunning visuals to show, Everest turns out not to have a hell of a lot to say other than that climbing Mount Everest isn't something to be done lightly. The set-up could easily be paired down, especially given the film's disinterest into delving deeper into most of the characters or the early training the group does to get them in shape for the big climb (an intriguing aspect of the process which most films like this overlook completely).

That's not to say there aren't reasons to see the film in theaters. Filmed on mountains in three different countries including Nepal, there is an undeniable grandeur to the proceedings. I'll also spend a moment to single-out Knightley who provides the center of the most emotional moment in the entire film as the pregnant wife of Clarke's character, helplessly stuck thousands of miles away from the disaster that has befallen her husband's company. The sequence, which also includes Watson and Worthington, closer to the action but no less helpless in the face of the storm, is as good as any of the IMAX shots of the mountain.

No comments: