Any narrative based on the idea of exploring the perils of climbing the highest mountain in the world is bound to be an interesting one. When you combine that with superb directing, outstanding effects, a cast that consists some of the biggest names in Hollywood and consider that it’s based on real-life events, Everest makes for a film you don’t want to miss seeing.
In mid-90’s, Mt. Everest became a popular tourist location and many competitive climbers wanted to put their limits to the test and get to the summit. Unfortunately, in 1966, one of these excursions went terribly wrong, resulting in multiple deaths, despite the resilience and bravery of the group’s members.
The film is very much a group effort instead of having one man as the focal point. Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) is as close as we get to a main character. The owner of Adventure Consultants, he is the man responsible for leading his clients during this difficult journey. If one wanted to take part in such an endeavor, Hall would truly be the best leader you could possibly hope for. He is careful, meticulous and organized.
The group itself is an unusual mix of personalities, including Guy Cotter (Sam Worthington), a guide and a friend of Rob Hall, wealthy Texan Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), an experienced climber Yasuko (Naoko Mori), a mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes) and Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal), the leader of a rival expedition company. While the female roles are somewhat limiting, Keira Knightley (Hall’s pregnant wife Jan), Emily Watson (the base camp manager who is in constant communication with the climbers) and, most notably, Robyn Wright (Weathers’ wife), all get to have moments where their acting abilities shine, even if it’s just by talking on the phone. Overall, the stellar cast lifts the story to a whole new level without electing one person to carry the weight of successful storytelling.
The first portion of the film is focused on getting to know these characters and provides a dose of human interaction. While nearly all characters, except for Rob Hall, lack a certain level of depth and fail to provide us with an answer to the most basic question, “What is your motive to climb Mt. Everest?”; they still give us enough to be emotionally engaged and sympathize when their lives become endangered.
The second part concentrates on the climbers’ descent from and puts the viewer on the edge of his seat. Every breath is a victory and every moment of not knowing what will happen is more intense than the next. Everest is made to be watched in 3D. It is a masterful combination of realistic shots from the actual location and special effects that will leave you amazed and terrified at the same time. Accompanied by some of the best sound effects I’ve seen in a long time, you will get the feeling of being right in the heart of the tragedy and immensely thankful that you are, in fact, not there.
One of the best traits of this powerful thriller is how real it is. There is no silver lining or an inspirational message to be drawn from the film, which is usually the case in Hollywood movies. It leans towards resembling a documentary – an impactful representation of tragic events, gruesome deaths and struggles for survival. There is no good guy battling the bad guy; the mountain is the biggest villain and the only obstacles these characters are facing are personal limitations and the force of nature. It is a rudimentary account of events that left a group of aspiring mountain climbers struggling to live to see another day and reunite with their loved ones.
Everest wasn’t made to be uplifting; if there is a moral to the story, it is the realization how small humans are in comparison to the power of nature. It serves the purpose of acknowledging the courage and spirit of these climbers, while at the same time, it keeps us interested, engaged and committed to witnessing the outcome, even though we realistically know that their chances are slim.
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