Moviegoers everywhere were treated to a summer blockbuster aftershock as the adventure film Everest, based on the biographical novel “Into Thin Air”, hit theaters last weekend.
Everest is based on the true story centering on a group of climbers aiming to conquer Mount Everest with the help of their professional guides. It focuses on the real life head of the expedition, Rob Hall, played by Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”). With a pregnant wife at home and his business on the decline, Hall sets out to lead a successful expedition, populated with a diverse array of climbers, each with their own motivations for wanting to get to the top.
A large part of the movie focuses on the preparation and exposition leading up to the summiting. Most of what is onscreeen involves discussions between Rob Hall and one of the leaders, Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal, “End of Watch”, “Nightcrawler”). They talk about near fatal accidents during training, involving bottomless gorges and unstable ladders, and bittersweet calls home. As the movie progresses and the summit begins, all starts off well, but due to adverse weather conditions and questionable calls, the climb soon becomes deadly. The challenge becomes less about making it to the top and more about making it to the bottom alive.
“Everest” certainly provides a tense film experience, especially when you think about the true story that inspired it. Filmed in Italy and Nepal, the aesthetic of the movie is often truly grand to take in. With crisp, snowy mountain peaks and ruggedly precarious icy pathways, the visuals in the movie are hardly ever lacking.
What does seem a little lacking within the film, however, are the character’s motives. Often the choices made seem to be made for no other reason than the reckless risk. For example, if a dangerous storm is headed straight for the mountain you happen to be climbing, it’s a little hard to understand how it wouldn’t be your first reaction to stop climbing it. It seemed that oftentimes logic and the value of life were ignored and replaced by the thrill of near death.
Maybe this problem could’ve been solved if the movie dove deeper into the backstories of the characters. When the credits roll, most of the side stories seem to be left disappointingly underdeveloped. If these characters were all based on real people, it would be interesting to learn more about their motivations for making the choices that they do. Often the characters just melded into each other, becoming hard to distinguish underneath all the snow gear.
In the end, “Everest” was an OK watch. Imagining the reality of the events provides a certain weight to the movie that makes it all the more nerve-racking. If adventure-thrillers get you going, this movie is right up your alley. If you prefer more character development and fewer scenes of harrowing life or death instances, stay away from this one.maybe stay away from this one.