A emotionally nail-biting ascent to the summit of Everest delivered through dramatic story-telling and great cast performances.
In 1996, during a climbing expedition on Mt. Everest a large group of hikers find their journey ravaged by a severe storm.
Just before the summer’s end comes one last CGI filled blockbuster in the form of a “Based on a True Story” account of a group of hikers who attempted to climb Mt. Everest only to get caught in a storm with tragic results. I will start by saying I both liked and disliked parts of this film. The script starts out relatively quick and does a great job of delivering information about the process of climbing Everest and places it nicely in the flow of the dialogue to make it even more interesting, and not forced in to simply inform the viewer.
I enjoyed how this story provided some small details about the area surrounding the famous mountain as well as the various base-camps at strategic elevations, that were much like small villages made of tents. I also enjoyed the depiction of how climbing Everest has grown more popular over the last twenty-years and it was interesting how the high amounts of traffic among hikers along the ascent could cause problems. The script also briefly touched on the profitability of hiking expeditions and the growth of the mountain from a natural wonder to a high stakes business which I found somewhat through provoking.
It was also beautifully shot, there were endless amounts of spectacular visuals to give you the scope of what the characters were working against while climbing the treacherous mountain. The amazing beauty was perfectly captured and the great camerawork continued into the second, and clearly more suspenseful half of the movie. Salvatore Totino delivered some great cinematography during the storm-sequences and even on a hot day, a cool feeling from the frigid settings will set over you, as well as some clammy palms. The stunning visuals and interesting Everest information were, for me, the most intriguing parts of this film. Which they shouldn’t have, given the dramatically tragic source material the script is based on.
There is no denying this film is visually appealing but that was really it for the depth of my connection with it. I simply was looking at the film and despite some slight emotional pull to some of the more suspense scenes, there was a surprising lack of connection to any of the characters. This greatly hindered the dramatic impact of many moments. With what I assume would have been a great amount of material available on the true events this film is based on, the entire feel of the script was entirely to Hollywood-ized for my liking.
Much of the cast is based on real individuals, yet I felt like I barely knew any of them. From all outside appearances and minimal dialogue I gathered the following – Jason Clarke’s character was a man who played it safe, Jake Gyllenhaal’s was a maverick, John Hawkes’ was a simple man with large aspirations, Josh Brolin’s was a man of wealth but surprising determination, Michael Kelley’s was a journalist who liked to listen to other people conversations, Sam Worthington’s was good on a radio, and you get where I am going.
I would have liked to have learned more about these people, to feel much more of an emotional connection. Don’t get me wrong, the film was without a doubt highly suspenseful and looked to do a detailed job of re-telling the accounts of what happened to these climbers, and you can easily feel a emotional draw at the unfortunate events. I am not asking for more detail on these individuals to simply deliver compelling cinema. But it would have been much more intriguing and compelling to learn about who these people were, why they chose the path the did, and what fueled their determination.
Some of these aspects were brushed upon in the screenplay but the material was not what I would see as being fully complete. It simply felt glossed over and added out of necessity when it should have been a focal point in the development of the script. I guess what I am trying to say in way too many words is that a film based on real people should not feel like it has cut-and-paste characters. The course the script takes was a very suspenseful one and had their been more of a connection to them this film, it would have gone down as excellent, opposed to just, pretty good.
The casting was great in this one despite the lack of depth. All the performances were excellent and even though he was not a headliner, the character I connected with the most, and for me was the true star was John Hawkes. His delivery in the scenes of conversation between times ascending the mountain were excellent as he created some layers to his role that made him easy to familiarize with rather than the rest of the characters who all seemed overly vague.
In the end, “Everest” was not all bad. The story does have you on the edge of your seat throughout much of the second half. The film is amazing to look at during many scenes and the strong cast did the most to bring these real individuals to the screen in this retelling of the tragedy that unfolded in the 90’s. It is definitely worth a watch and regardless of the Hollywood gloss-over there are still many riveting moments that will have you up in your seat. While it does entertain I would have simply liked to have learned more about these people filling the story as opposed to only what happened to them.
– Starring –
Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Martin Henderson, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Naoko Mori, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright, Keira Knightley
– Directed By –
Time: 121 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For intense peril and disturbing images)