- RatedPG /GenreAdventure, Drama
Just mention the word “Everest” and a slight chill may run through your spine.
Or for the very imaginative, images of frostbitten adventurers risking life and limb to scale the very pinnacle of our planet.
There may be too many people, trash climbers and sherpas guides, but Mount Everest remains a wonder of nature and the ultimate challenge for adventurers.
It takes more than just gumption for a person to want to risk their life, and deplete the bank account just to go through to face 8,848 metres of rock, ice, snow and whatever else Mother Nature can throw at you.
So for many of us, ‘Everest’ is the closest we’re ever going to get to scaling the world’s highest peak.
Part IMAX nature doc and part disaster movie, ‘Everest’ does a convincing job of transporting us to Nepal to show what it’s like to conquer the mountain, the acclimating process on practice hikes, and the punishing effects that accompany each climb as you go higher.
“It’s good to see the scary moments in the comfort of an air-conditioned room instead of being out there to see it,” said Singapore mountaineer Joanne Soo who made the summit in 2009.
But what makes ‘Everest’ so real and probably puts aspiring adventurers off mountaineering for a while is its gripping true story.
Director Baltasar Kormákur puts you smack in the middle of the beauty and peril of a 1996 storm during which eight climbers died on the mountain.
Jason Clarke stars as New Zealander Rob Hall whose company Adventure Consultants guides climbers to the top of Everest for US$65,000.
We learn that Rob pioneered the idea of leading tours up Mount Everest. By 1996, however, it was a crowded field, with human traffic at various points along the climb, causing delays that are infuriating and potentially deadly.
Among his clients is journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), whose best-selling book -- ‘Into Thin Air’ -- about the tragedy served as one of the principal sources here.
The most notable of those alongside the scribe include straight-talking Texan Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin); Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori), a Japanese woman who has scaled the highest peaks on all other continents save for Everest; and Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), a postman who worked three jobs to return after failing to make the summit once.
One of the film’s most memorable moments comes when Jon asks the group why they want to climb the mountain given its treacherous and demanding terrain. “Because it’s there,” came the response.
Added star power comes from a very gruff Bradley Cooper who plays Scott Fischer from a rival adventure company, Keira Knightley who plays Rob’s pregnant wife Jan who remains at home in New Zealand and Emily Watson who is the ‘mother hen’ back at base camp.
After a harrowing practice hike with his wards, Rob convinces Scott to co-operate, and the two teams make their ascent on 10 May 1996.
That climb begins with the successful conquest of the peak, and in emotional scenes, the climbers plant their flags on the summit. But disaster strikes on their descent in the form of a blizzard that leaves several of the climbers on the mountain stranded.
Director Kormakur, who only has a few police thrillers (‘2 Guns’, ‘Contraband’) under his belt, levels up here, giving us the chills even before the climbers set foot on the mountain.
With cinematographer Salvatore Totino, Kormakur conjures an authentic environment that is heightened through the intensity of the experience coupled with the impact of extreme weather.
If you watch the movie in IMAX, you will be rewarded with dazzling views of the gorgeous mountain landscapes and breathtaking shots of the climbers traversing rope bridges over canyons or precariously crossing deep crevasses on flimsy stringed-up ladders.
The action and visuals all make up for the perfunctory story by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy. What is vexing also is the constant jumping from mountain climber to basecamp to somewhere else in the world. While that tries to convey a sense of urgency to the ordeal, it just feels too scattered and disjointed.
Well-made and technically picture-perfect though the movie is, ‘Everest’ would have afforded greater emotional impact had the characters been given the same attention to detail as their majestic setting.‘Everest’ opens 24 September 2015