25/10/15 19:19 Filed in: 2015
Directed by: Baltasar Kormakur
Starring: Jason Clarke
This review was originally tweeted in Real-time from the back row of a movie theater and appears @BackRoweReviews. Though efforts were made to tease rather than ruin this movie’s memorable lines and moments, some spoilers may exist in the following evaluation. The original tweets appear in black, while follow-up comments appear in red. For concerns over objectionable content, please first refer to one of the many parental movie guide websites. All ratings are based on a four star system. Happy reading!
If only psychologically. Actually, most SoCal theaters are like ice boxes year-round, so watching a flick is a great way to beat the heat.
20 teams. “A scrum on the ropes.”
Unfortunately, the more people there are on the mountain, the greater the chance of casualties. The grim reality of statistical probability.
“Mailman on Everest.” Long way to deliver a letter.
The Mailman is played by indie actor, John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, 2010 and The Sessions, 2012).
Climber’s memorial. Last chance to turn back.
A graveyard for climbers whose lives were claimed by the mountain.
“The last word always belongs to the mountain.” Know who you’re competing against.
A good reminder to always pay the proper amount of respect to the mountain.
“One pound down here is like ten pounds up there.” #LightAndFast
This is a reference to shedding weight from a backpack, not personal weight. Although, that would factor in as well, one would think.
“Head down, one step at a time.” The only way to attack the mountain.
What a grueling task it would be to climb Everest. It’s not just how cold the air is, but also how thin it is.
“The mountain makes its own weather.” And it can change in an instant.
As the characters in the movie find out…the hard way.
Beautiful night view of the mountain.
There’s nothing like being on top of the world, breathing crisp, clean air and watching the moonlight glistening off of snow peaks. A spiritual experience.
No fixed ropes. You slip you die.
That’s okay. I’ll sit this one out.
Hopefully the call from home gives Rob the motivation he needs to get moving.
Wishful thinking on my part. In my defense, I was unfamiliar with this story before watching the film.
Final analysis: a heart-stopping, man vs. nature tale where respect for the mountain is paramount for survival.
And respect for fickle weather.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 4. What the film gains in production it loses in predictability. A true story worth watching.
This type of extreme sports movie has been done many times throughout cinema history. Mountain climbing films like K2 (1991) and Vertical Limit (2000) are presented more as thrillers than man versus nature cautionary tales. Whereas many of those mountain movies are fictional, Everest is based on the horrific events that occurred on the big mountain in 1996. Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) lead a team to the top of Everest, but on the descent, conditions rapidly worsened and many climbers either slipped off the edge of a cliff or became one with the mountain…permanently. Survival thrillers, along with disaster films and murder mysteries, usually employ a thinning of the herd narrative approach, and such is the case here. As macabre as it sounds, it almost becomes a spectator sport to guess who will live and who will die when things go south, as they always do in this brand of film. This Darwinian winnowing of characters is much harder to guess in fictional stories, but in true events, like the one featured in this film, anyone familiar with the historical account will know who survives and who doesn’t. However, the writing here is as taut as a climbing line and should hold the attention of everyone in the audience with its skillful recitation of the harrowing events that befell this particular group of adventurers nearly twenty years ago. Bringing the characters to life is an eclectic cast of fine actors including: Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Robin Wright and Sam Worthington. If there’s a downside to having such a large cast it’s that screen time is at a premium, especially since personal stories are constantly upstaged by action on the mountain. Some of the individual episodes are tragic, like when Hawkes’ mailman, Doug Hansen, sends himself express to the bottom of the mountain, while others are heroic, like the subplot focusing on Brolin’s ironically named character, Beck Weathers, who, despite losing his nose, miraculously survives two gelid nights up on the slope. Although the death scenes aren’t overly graphic, some of them might be frightening for younger kids. However, despite a handful of death scenes, there really isn’t anything else that’s objectionable in the film. Indeed, one of the producers of the movie is Walden Media, which is the family friendly company that brought us the Narnia trilogy. Aside from the decorated cast, the biggest draw here is the gorgeous scenery filmed on location in Nepal and Italy. As the de facto star of the movie, the mountain scenes had to be spectacular, and they are, thanks in large part to director Baltasar Kormakur and cinematographer Salvatore Totino. All things considered, this movie is exactly what you’d expect from a tragic true tale set on the frozen tundra. The movie is a humbling reminder of the awesome power of nature. Moral of the story: don’t play games with Mother Nature. You’ll lose.