Film: Everest (2015)
I entered the theatre expecting to be bored by what - from the trailers – looked to be a predictable disaster movie. But two hours later when the end credits started to roll I was surprised how invested I had become while watching Everest. While I cannot say I was wrong about the predictability issue I still wanted to know who would make it off the mountain alive.
For those who do not know, Everest is based of a real life event in which two mountain expedition groups become trapped on Everest during a massive storm. The main plot is really that simple, so the film makes up for this by spending most of its first hour focusing on the individual climbers. Explaining things like: why they want to climb Everest, what their home life is like and how they plan to survive in one of the most hostile environments on Earth. Most of the film is presented from the perspective of the main character, a mountain climbing expert by the name of Rob Hall (played by Jason Clarke.) I don’t think any of the main actors give Oscar worthy performances, but the cast does an admirable job making the audience care about the situation. They also seem to understand that they are portraying real people rather than characters, so they all manage to give tasteful performances.
Having said that, the film does have a few massive shortcomings that hold it back. For one thing, it does follow the typical disaster formula. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but it does make it less surprising when things do not go as planned. I was not familiar with the real events when I saw the movie, yet I managed to guess just about every major plot development about thirty minutes in. I admittedly did not get everything right but I still knew basically what was going to happen and if you have ever seen a disaster movie so will you.
One aspect where the film truly fails is the sound editing. It is hard enough to tell characters apart when they are all covering their faces with thick scarves and wearing similar coats, but when the wind makes it all but impossible to hear what certain characters are saying it is easy to get a little confused. This confusion never lasts long, but it may cause viewers to miss certain plot details.
But in spite of these problems I am still very impressed with the movie, mainly because it does a good job of making up for its own short comings. The story may be predictable, but that does not change the fact that these people are in a life or death situation. And there may be times when it is hard to tell characters apart, but the scenery makes up for that by basically turning the mountain itself into a character. The whole movie is set against a back drop of gorgeous yet intimidating imagery. Between the shots of the mountain itself and the surrounding area, I can almost recommend the film based on the cinematography alone.
Everest is nothing that has not been seen before. It is a true story that is being presented in the form of a typical disaster movie and as such most of the major plot twists are not all that surprising. But it still manages to make the audience care what happens, so much so that I managed to find the ending to be both bittersweet and tasteful. You know exactly what you are getting with Everest, but that doesn’t mean it is not worth your time. If the thought of a well made disaster movie with beautiful imagery appeals to you, then there is really no reason not to see this film. Though if you have an interest in mountain climbing, you may lose it by the time the movie is over.