Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Movie Review - Everest

Everest (2015)
***viewed in 3D***
Starring Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Elizabeth Debicki, Naoko Mori, Emily Watson, and Keira Knightley
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur

To me, there's an insanity that comes with wanting to climb a nearly unclimbable mountain like Mt. Everest.  Shelling out $64,000 to join the Adventure Consultants team headed by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) seems like a crazy notion to me, but mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), doctor and father Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), writer Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), and forty-eight year-old avid climber Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) are just a few of the people who decided to do such a thing in March 1996.  Everest tells their tragic true story.

While there are certainly moments of sentimentality -- most stemming from the aforementioned climbers' phone calls home to their loved ones (Keira Knightley, Robin Wright) or base camp manager Helen (Emily Watson) -- Everest doesn't harp on them.  In a film that so easily could've created emotional connections between the climbers, Everest is really about Man vs. Nature.  When someone falls off a cliff edge, it's certainly a painful moment and it's greeted with sadness and grief by other climbers, but it's also the nature of the beast.  Don't mistake my writing and think that the film is callous to those who truly lost their lives -- it's not in the slightest.  It's simply that the film is like a docudrama, detailing the incidents with a bluntness we're not necessarily used to seeing in films -- and it works.

The film admittedly takes its time to get going, but director Baltasar Kormákur succeeds in making the build-up to the climb nearly as compelling as the climb itself.  Thanks to the adept screenplay, we learn little tidbits of info about each of our climbers without ever being burdened with big backstories (with the exception of perhaps Rob Hall who leads the expedition and is the main character in the ensemble).  Once we get onto the mountain itself, Kormákur creates an intense atmosphere where that aforementioned bluntness keeps us on a constant edge because we're never really given a warning or a build-up to when bad things are going to happen.

With special effects that are near flawless -- I genuinely felt like I was on Everest making the climb with the group -- Everest is certainly a success.  However, the lack of emotion -- the same thing I praised the film for earlier -- does end up being a slight downfall in the end.  It's the docudrama aspect of the whole affair that doesn't fully allow us in the audience to "feel" for the characters.  Only in the end when the requisite character codas flash up on the screen with "real life" photos of those who lost their lives on the mountain did I actually "feel" something.  The coda is there obviously to remind us that what we witnessed was true and there's no doubt in my mind that ending the film on this note is necessary to pay the proper respect to those who passed away.  However, the end also oddly makes us wish that the film itself inherently created the emotions that are aroused within us when we see the real-life photos.  It doesn't do that and because of that it's a bit too jarring of a conclusion.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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