Tuesday, September 22, 2015

[Review] Everest

Everest is exactly what's advertised. A group of ambitious people set out to scale the cold, snowy, windy and unforgiving terrain of Mount Everest. The film is light on character, but it's a visual marvel of both beauty and peril.

Rob (Jason Clarke) leads the pack of mostly bearded men, others of which include Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Did the casting director have a thing for "J's"? Anyway, like many travel/adventure/survivor films, there is a lot of preparation and training that takes place before the departure, and there comes a point when you just want the group to get on that mountain (or tell them to reconsider). Thankfully, in the meantime there are some nice shots of the mountainside towns, as well as some breathtaking bridges that extend above stomach-knotting heights.

You don't need to be aware of the true story the film is based on to know that these peoples' fates are dreadful. Each time one of them calls their family members before they leave, you feel like saying "It's not too late to turn back, man!" Battles of masculinity, pride, and young vs. old fuel a little conflict between the dudes as they scale the mountain. But you can't help but think the smartest and best survivor would be the one that decides to turn back and go into safety.

As mentioned earlier, the characters are pretty shallow--with just basic backstories to their name (one of their wives is newly pregnant, so you know he's in trouble) and not much room to maneuver going forward. Jake Gyllenhaal has had some great lead turns lately, so it's disappointing that his role feels a bit wasted here as he sort of fades into the abyss, and others get lost in the shuffle.

With that said, since Everest is built on surface thrills, the character gripes don't come as a huge detriment. The film delivers some exhilarating scenery, especially toward the back half. And there's a particularly intense and eerie night storm sequence. You might get winded just watching it, but it'll also make you glad that you're in the comfort of a theater seat. Chances are, you won't even want to go near a mountain after this.


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