Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, Keira Knightley & Robin Wright
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Strapline: “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth”
In a Nutshell:
Everest centers on the story of Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) whose expedition tour company Adventure Consultants paved the way for paid expeditions to Everest. His men and $65,000 a-pop customers attempt to make their way to the summit. Accompanying Hall is Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) a rival tour operator heading for the summit at the same time with his group of men.
I can say that I enjoyed Everest. It’s a good movie, yet it’s just not a great one. This tale of real-life tragedy on the mountain never quite hits the height it should. Despite the visual grandeur of its setting and the haunting drama of its true story (it’s a retelling of the disastrous 1996 ascent of the mountain in which a number of climbers, both amateur and professional, lost their lives), it’s story never penetrated me the way it was intended.
This is also the case for the Sherpas and the female characters, including perhaps the most affecting tale of the movie. Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori), a customer of Hall’s, recounts that she has climbed six summits, and this is the last on her list. This story – which is easily the most interesting – is simply brushed over. Emily Watson puts in the movie’s best performance as base camp’s mother hen and is similarly underwritten. Keira Knightley and Robin Wright do well as the wives of Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin respectively, though they play the stereotypical worried wives back home.
As I mentioned, I saw it in IMAX 3D, and this movie was made for that experience, although not filmed in native 3D. So to get the full impact, I implore you to follow my lead in that regard. The movie from a visual standpoint is pretty thrilling. There are some great moments that show you just how insignificant humans are when it comes to the sheer scale of this locale.
The vistas and drops with the aid of an IMAX screen and 3D effect come to life and at times I felt I was on that mountain with them. The on-location footage and CGI blend nicely, which I must admit heading in was one of my worries. My only issue with the visuals is that Kormákur never stays for long on any one shot, so although impressive there are no absolute stomach churning moments. The sound by the way is also excellent and really adds to the experience.
Visually, Everest is a must-see. Especially in IMAX 3D. Stunning vistas, drops and set pieces keep this movie afloat, aided by excellent sound design. The movie conveys the horror and majesty of this undertaking well, yet despite good performances from an experienced cast, the memory of the brave men and women lost has been robbed by weak script and a severe lack of character development.
Everest is out in the UK Friday, Sep. 18th.