EVEREST - Review

PG-13  |  121 min
Review - Matt Mungle


SynopsisInspired by the incredible events surrounding an attempt to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. 

ReviewIt is hard to look at the movie poster, see the IMAX logo, and not think this is another on location, docu-drama about the most alluring mountain in history. Yes the story is based on actual events but the out come is all Hollywood. Creating a disaster film like EVEREST is a slippery slope and as one character in the film says, "The mountain always gets the last word.".

Where the film loses its footing is that it tries to do too much. The central character is expert mountain guide Rob Hall (Jason Clarke). There is no one better at getting paying customers up the summit and back down. Rob is cautious, caring, and calculating. He has three central figures in this tour; the Texan Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), the journalist (Michael Kelly), and the guy trying one more time to reach the top (John Hawkes). The trek these four and others made in May of 1996 is all the story you need. It is edge of your seat, held breath, tense nerves, excitement. But the script is crowded with so much more that it becomes overwhelming and cluttered. 

This over abundance of stuff is meant well and in theory - as well as on paper - probably looked great. Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) runs a competitive tour company and Scott will be the first to tell you that he does things much different than Rob. As he puts it, Rob does a little too much hand holding. The writers wanted this animosity to shine in the film. And it would have been great were it successful. But there is not enough time to flesh out Scott so that we truly understand him. Also, his team and customers are more of the party mentality but are only there as extras and never add anything to the mix. 

There is a lot going on with the other characters as well. Rob's wife (Keira Knightley), who normally would be there climbing, is home pregnant. Beck is obviously having marital issues with his wife (Robin Wright) and this under developed story line it is a waste of the caliber of actress Wright is. It would have been good to have a bit more perspective from the journalist too. But even in 121 minutes a lot must have been cut. Many times a bit of dialogue is spoken or something is alluded to that is intriguing. But it is never revisited or expounded upon. So it falls flat like an after thought. And in a film with this much velocity those moments stand out horribly. 

The good news? The climate that is Everest is undeniably fierce and savage. That is depicted with expert camera and audio technics. You feel like you are on the side of the mountain facing the ferocious wind with them. The film is shot on location in Nepal on the foothills of Everest, and in the Italian Alps so the visuals are stunning. Again, this is a true account of one of the worst storms ever to hit a climbing party. You can't water that down or soften the blow. If you do you demean the real people and what they endured. The audience must walk out feeling exhausted and spent. And they will. That was a complete success.

EVERST is teeming with familiar, star ranked actors. So there is never a moment when a scene flops because of a lack of talent. Along with the fore mentioned cast you have Sam Worthington, Emily Watson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson and more. It is rated PG-13 for intense peril and disturbing images. It is a heavy film and even the lighter moments are quickly blown aside. I give it 3.5 out of 5 snow caps. The visuals make it a must see on the big screen but be prepared for a lot of disjointed pieces.

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