As both a self-proclaimed lover of thriller and survival films and a skeptic of a large majority of movies, I entered Everest trying to have no expectations and know nothing about the movie in general. Even if I had set the bar high, I doubt that Everest would have disappointed.
The story of Everest follows expedition groups led by Rob Hall and Scott Fischer (Jason Clarke and Jake Gyllenhaal, respectively) and tells of the real events that occurred in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster in an attempt of several climbers to summit the mountain. Everest captures the panicked emotion of the real-life disaster to tell a gripping and thought-provoking story of love and extreme survival. Like any film based on real events, it has the temptation to either exaggerate too much or simply be bland, but it tends to stay true to the truth and be exciting by showing the disaster for what it really was, severe frostbite and all.
What I liked
Jason Clarke as expedition leader Rob Hall does a magnificent job portraying someone confident in his job yet very much human in his array of emotions and selflessness. His marriage with Jan Arnold (Keira Knightley) is probably one of the most emotionally compelling and real parts of the movie.
The survivalist aspect of this film was very well done. The acting was believable and the desperation of the climbers and the extreme discomfort they felt in their bodies from climbing was shown in such a way that it made you feel some of the discomfort along with them.
I actually also really liked the fact the director Baltasar Kormákur didn’t sugarcoat any of the disgusting parts of the film. If there was frostbite, you saw the frostbite. If there was paradoxical undressing, it was both well-explained and shown. Although more sensitive viewers might not appreciate it, the effects of summiting Mount Everest, which humans shouldn’t be able to do, are realistically portrayed, adding to the overall blatant honesty that this film carries.
What I didn’t like
Because my pickiness for superb acting will always show itself, I have to say that there were a few moments that felt stilted and wooden, though they tended to be from the minor characters. Also, Josh Brolin’s character Beck had the tendency to follow as many stereotypes of a rich Texan, though, of course, it’s hard to distinguish between how these actors portrayed characters and what these people were really like.
I was also under the assumption that the climax of the movie would be reaching the summit (as I’m sure the actual climbers did as well), and it felt a little abrupt to me when that actually happened. There seemed to be so much build up to that moment and then it just kinda…happened. Granted, the structure of the movie made more sense as more climaxes developed, but I still felt a bit underwhelmed by the first one.
Although its emotional content and gripping moments are well done in this film, what stands out most to me is its utter honesty in presenting the pain and love and desperation that real humans felt and experienced. Despite a few hiccups and a somewhat slow feel at the beginning, the journey that Everest takes the viewer on is one that any lovers of this genre should not hesitate to see, at least once in theaters!
Everest hit theaters September 18!