Thursday, 1 October 2015
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Emily Watson and Kiera Knightly
Everest tells the real-life horror story of the most fatal year (until 2014's Nepal earthquake) on Mount Everest. Rob Hall leads a commercial business that takes everyday people up to the top of Everest. This business has been so successful that there are now several other teams like it, including Scott Fischer's team. So while all the teams are making their ascent on May 10th 1996 a severe storm strikes the mountain, causing extreme devastation to the teams of climbers.
As you can tell from the synopsis, and if you know the real story, you'll know Everest is not a happy story. I feel it's no spoiler to say that quite a few people died on Everest during this time. And I felt Everest was very respectful in capturing all of this. Everest is quite the ensemble piece, so we don't get to know everyone as well as we'd might like, but the film gets us close enough to them that we can empathize with their situation and feel the extreme loss with them.
The film launches right into the main story. We have Rob Hall and Helen Wilton (Everest base camp manager) leaving their home in New Zealand, Rob leaving his pregnant wife Jan behind. From there, we arrive in Nepal where Rob meets up with the rest of the group and they make their introductions. And then, not 20 minutes into the film, we're at the base camp of Everest. Everest is to the point and jumps into its story quickly, something I did appreciate about the film.
The visuals, as you can guess, are brilliant. Everest is something that's always very much interested me and I do have a basic knowledge of (actually, I did read Jon Krakauer's book based on this event called "Into Thin Air" around the time they started filming this movie, incidentally). The effects and visual are really just stunning. There's a fantastic panning in on this massive suspended bridge in Nepal which is so beautifully done. Sadly, I didn't see this movie on the biggest screen, but did see it in 3D. But really, it's just so beautiful.
The acting in this movie was fine. There wasn't anything spectacular or in need of an Oscar nomination here, but everyone does do a great job with their material. John Hawkes is really devastating as Doug, as was Keira Knightly in her limited role of Rob Hall's wife Jan. Jason Clarke was actually, I found, to be a very good choice for the role of Rob. Rob's role wasn't all that deep or even that explored, but Clarke did a good job of bringing intensity and likability to the role. Jake Gyllenhaal was a lot of fun but was also able to bring depth to his small role. You can really see the strain showing through on his face when Scott starts to struggle.
Also, Dario Marianelli is fantastic at making heartbreaking music, and this was no exception. Marianelli's work here is beautiful with the right amount of Asian violin cues for us to remember that we're in Nepal. The ending of the film especially has some fantastic and heartbreaking work.
Speaking of the end, it was incredibly respectful of the parties involved, and I really liked that. And the movie really understood that, what happened, there wasn't really a happy ending for a lot of people. Many people died and many others suffered terrible injuries from the cold/frost. While it feels for a moment like we may get our inspirational happy ending, that's only somewhat true. Everest realizes the gravity of the tradegy of the story it's telling and gives the proper ending to show that. Like I mentioned, Everest seemed to be very respectful of everyone and treats everyone with kindness.
I understand why some people may've found Everest underwhelming, but I disagree. I found the movie to be quite captivating and interesting. It helped that I was already very similar with the story, but it still had quite the impact all the same. Personally, I actually found the movies weakness to be when the storm hit. The preparation for the climb was well done and extremely interesting. Much during the storm was heartbreaking and so sad to watch. But again, it was respectful of those who had truly died and was never too graphic with any of these deaths.
While Everest may not have been the best movie I've ever seen, it was one I still very much enjoyed and would like to revisit again sometime.
Posted by Heather Martin