Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright, Sam Worthington, Emily Watson, Martin Henderson
Runtime: 2 hrs 2 mins
Rating: PG (Some Intense Sequences)
Released By: UIP
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/EverestMovie
Opening Day: 24 September 2015
Synopsis: Inspired by the incredible events surrounding an attempt to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival.
This reviewer may not have climbed Earth’s highest mountain (8848m), but in his 30 odd years of life, he has bravely attempted to ascend East Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu (4096m) and Sri Lanka’s Adam’s Peak (2243m). While the routes from the base to the summit of these two mountains are fairly safe, he would tell you that without a certain level of fitness or determination, the journey can be a mentally treacherous one. Of course, it didn’t help that this writer isn’t the healthiest individual, which made these two occasions somewhat exhausting.
And that is why he can understand the fear and trauma the characters in this Baltasar Kormakur directed drama thriller are going through on high altitude when Mother Nature shows her rough side. Based on true events of the 1996 Mount Everestdisaster (read more about the tragedy which killed eight climbers on the Internet), the thrills are given a large screen and 3D treatment to bring you face to face with the danger the mountaineers went through.
Two expedition groups, one led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and the other by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), take on Mount Everest, not aware of the catastrophe that awaits them. Each climber has his or her own agenda to overcome the heights: there is the veteran who has been climbing for 10 years, there is the senior who is hoping to prove that an ordinary man can achieve an almost impossible dream, there is the woman who has climbed six of the Seven Summits and wants to become the oldest female to conquer Everest, and the journalist on assignment to do up a magazine article.
The thing about disaster movies based on real life events is, you know the outcome won’t be a pretty one. This particular adventure movie is particularly unsettling, as you read more about the tragedy and finding out what happened to them 19 years ago. What story is there left to tell then, you wonder. Filmmakers can always take on the approach of showing the great human spirit of those who have fallen, and relaying a cautionary tale of how humans shouldn’t mess around with the forces of nature.
While there are moments in this 121 minute movie when you’ll applaud the bravery of certain characters (especially Hall, who reportedly accompanied a climber to achieve his dream despite unwelcoming conditions), you also ponder whether such a tragedy could have been prevented. And if you were to really think about it, aren’t the unfortunate fates brought about by both untimely circumstances and, to a certain extent, mankind’s stubbornness?
The story plot plods along in a predictable manner, but the high production values make up for it. You’ll easily feel the panic and terror as the mountaineers try to make their way out of the blizzard. It’s exhilaratingly dizzying, and as far as the thrills department goes, this movie delivers.
The ensemble cast also includes Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Marin Henderson, Sam Worthington, as well as representatives from the female gender in the form of Emily Watson and Keira Knightley. Each actor does a decent job, and although it eventually becomes pointless to try to make out who’s who behind those thick mountain climbing outfits, you’ll give credits to them for the challenging production. It becomes almost impossible to fault this movie, as you hope that such ill fated events won’t happen to you or anyone you know.
(There are enough thrills to leave you feeling unsettled about the real life tragedy that happened 19 years ago)
Review by John Li