“Our bodies will be literally dying.”
If Everest is now a “pushover” mountain to climb, I want absolutely nothing to do with the “super-difficult” ones. Back in the ’90’s, anyone who considered themselves an avid mountain climber made it an appointment to climb big bad Mount Everest. People from every point in the world converge in Nepal to take it on in an effort to reach the summit.
In 1996, experienced expedition leaders Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) are in charge of getting their respective groups to the peak. Their respective groups include a woman, Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori), who is tackling Everest to successfully say she has climbed all seven world summits, Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), just a man who loves climbing, and Doug (John Hawkes), who desperately wants to get to the top after failing two previous times. Like any journey to the top of anything, the road can be fraught with peril, but sometimes, coming down is worse than going up. The last word always belongs to the mountain.
Should a movie be defined by how it is shown? Everest would appear to think yes. With its opening week release in no other format expect IMAX and/or 3D, it is clear that the powers that be at Universal are making a statement, one that says that the best way to see the movie is in the biggest way possible. Much like the style-but-iffy-substance of Gravity (a poor man’s version of that movie, but yours truly’s opinion), Everest is best experienced with all of the frills, bells, and whistles.
In 3D, Everest is stunning. But, don’t get the idea that it is deployed throughout. For the first 30-40 minutes, it is somewhat useless. Once the real climbing trek begins is when the benefit of watching 3D kicks in. There are some awesome second-half sequences, directed by Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns, Contraband, that show the sheer size of the expedition, and the beast that is Mt. Everest. These all do give the viewer the feel of being on the mountain with the climbers.
When watching Everest, the amount of characters present does make it hard to keep up with everyone. With every character bundled to the brim with North Face, snow boots, and sunglasses, most end up being indistinguishable from one another. As a result, the stacked cast makes one see the actors and actresses themselves instead of the characters they are trying to portray. Character-wise, it is difficult to get a beat on them, outside of Rob Hall and maybe Beck Weathers, portrayed by Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin, respectively.
Clarke, especially in the second half, is impressive in his performance once the surroundings become insurmountable. Brolin initially seems like a grating and throwaway character (I knew little about this event), but is revealed to have a little bit more depth as things move on. Gyllenhaal, Martin Henderson, Michael Kelly, Keira Knightley, Robin Clarke, and John Hawkes are fine with what they have, it is just challenging to care for any of them.
Sure, one could lambast Everest for cashing in on a grim event, but it isn’t as if film has never done this before. And, there is real respect that is given to honor those who did perish in the disaster. Everest works enough primarily because though the characters might be bland and tough to connect with, their harrowing situation isn’t, all the more realized in 3D.
Photo credits go to celebuzz.com, People.com, and blogs.indiewire.com.
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