Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ang Phula Sherpa, Thomas M. Wright, John Hawkes, Josh Brolin
Watching Everest in 3D, one’s jaw literally plummets. With vertigo inducing vistas and stunning cinematography, this true life mountaineering tale – from 2 Guns and Contraband director Baltasar Kormákur – of the doomed expedition from May 1996, is a sweeping and grandiose tale of survival, being respectful to facts and its characters. However, the human drama is repeatedly stretched too thin and too broad to leave any truly lasting impact.
The story follows a group of mountaineering experts and their clients who have come from all over to scale the heights of the famous summit. Everest it seems, has become something of a tourist destination in the years following Sir Edmund Hillary’s first conquering, with multiple teams clogging up the slopes and dangerously shifting ice crevasses. During final ascent of May 1996, a freak snowstorm engulfs the mountain leaving many climbers stranded, with ever dwindling supplies in oxygen and deathly freezing temperatures.
There’s no denying the visual power of Everest. Salvatore Totino’s blistering and awe-inspiring cinematography (along with some green screen and Everest stand ins) perfectly capture the mountain’s breathtaking and majestic beauty as well as its brutal and unforgiving environment. It is one of those films that should ultimately be seen on the biggest screen you can find.While Simon Beaufoy and William Nicholson’s screenplay is respectful to the characters, the large cast is unfortunately stretched too far and wide. The actors are excellent in their roles, but many of the characters get left by the wayside by the time the final third comes around, leaving Jason Clarke and John Hawkes holding the emotional heft of the climbers.
Emily Watson and Keira Knightley (as base camp organizer Helen Wilton and stay-at-home pregnant spouse Jan Hall) meanwhile, deliver emotionally resonant performances as they are left powerless by the elements of Everest.
Overall, whilst Everest excels in capturing the harsh intensity of the mountain and its peaks, the movie wavers in its attempt at human drama. Still, the film is never dull and should be a reminder that humanity is but a tiny speck of dust in the face of the awe-inspiring power of nature.