***1/2 out of ****
Everest is a traditional big-budget disaster movie that has something special: It does just about everything right. It has the guts to invest its audience in the vulnerability of its characters and share their love of the stunning environment that will eventually turn on them. It may be about people, but more of it is about one of the world’s most amazing places. This movie was way better than I was expecting. Through its great cast enduring a high-altitude location shoot in Nepal, it manages to create believable characters without needlessly indulging their backstories.
Jason Clarke plays a mountaineer who leads commercial expeditions to the world’s highest peak. Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emily Watson, Naoko Mori, Sam Worthington, Michael Kelly and Elizabeth Debiki are among the large supporting cast representing people who were on the mountain during a day in May 1996 when a devastating snowstorm came through, taking many lives –only shortly after the climbers had reached the mountain’s peak.
This is a film based on a true story that finds purpose. It tells a horrifying story without ever losing sight of the awe and majesty of such a gorgeous place, justifying why it lures people to their doom. It is an emotional film through many factors, but the strongest of them all may be the gorgeous score by Dario Marianelli.
I am sure that Everest is full of conjecture and misrepresentations, but it's redeeming to see a film that has a sense of geography amidst all the chaos that ensues, through steady cinematography, reasonable CGI, and well-paced editing. This is like the description of a big budget movie from the mid-nineties, but I reflect on those years as being some of the best when it comes to the refinement of big spectacle filmmaking aided by the new digital tools of that time.
I must say that my expectations for this film were low considering that its director, Balthasar Kormakur didn't have a resume that interested me but I will certainly remember his name for future films.
The film's only real mistake is its unnecessarily clunky epilogue, which missed an opportunity to end gracefully. Sadly, the harmless choice to shoehorn in the standard issue photographs of the real people that inspired the film's characters feels like an interruption to all pains the filmmakers undertook to establish its internal sense of reality. But the mood is really ruined when it cuts to the end credits and instantly brings a suit of the more upbeat music from earlier in the film, interrupting the slow mournful -yet hypnotic music that preceded it. Nothing's perfect, I guess.