No bad nightmare is worse than experiencing a real-life tragedy. The difference is that all the violence and intensity that you may experience in your nightmares are not real because eventually, you will wake up realising that it was just a dream. You wake up realising that your brain was just messing with you.
In “Everest“, you’ll find yourself looking at climbers or mountaineers who are literally living a nightmare that they just can’t seem to wake up from.
“Everest” is an American 3D biographical disaster drama and adventure thriller film directed by Baltasar Kormákur (of “2 Guns”, “Contraband” fame) and written by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy. The screenplay is based on the real-life events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, focusing on 2 expedition groups, one led by Scott Fischer and the other by Rob Hall, who attempt to survive in a violent storm after conquering the highest point on Earth that we know as Mount Everest.
Though the film boasts a star-studded cast, I was slightly worried that it may turn out to be another melodramatic disaster movie with unnecesary subplots.
Fortunately, this is not the case.
“Everest” primarily focuses on its underlying theme of “man vs nature”, where climbers are challenged by the harshest conditions imaginable. One of the biggest highlights of the film is its stunning attention to detail and the way it explains why “human beings aren’t built to function at the cruising altitude of a 747”.
There is a sense of realism in “Everest” that a few disaster films these days aren’t able to achieve and this is all thanks to the breathtaking cinematography by Salvatore Totino. From the dangerous climbing scenes to the paranomic shots of the mountain, to the focus on characters’ emotions, the whole film made me feel like I was actually there.
Everything has its place in “Everest”, which went on to show us how demanding it actually is for humans to climb Mount Everest.
For the most part, “Everest” does a good job on the complexity of its premise, exploiting the challenges that climbers must face and endure in their battle against nature. When a violent storm strikes them without warning, they are engulfed in a fierce blizzard that will either leave them dead or alive. No matter how prepared they are, nature decides their fate in the end.
Another highlight from this film is the intense performances from the all-star cast including Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, and Emily Watson. Each actor has a fairly short amount of screen time in the film, but that didn’t hinder them from performing well for their respective roles.
We don’t get to know most of the characters that well, as they were not given much to work with in this movie. There’s a rivalry between the expedition groups, but the director did not portray any of them as an antagonist. Instead, he focused on the main characters’ backstories for us to get emotionally attached to them.
Clarke plays Rob Hall, a New Zealand mountaineer and head guide for the 1996 Mount Everest expedition and husband to Knightley’s Jan Arnold. As compared to his stiff performance in “Terminator Genisys“, Clarke’s performance in “Everest” is solid and convincing.
He shared many emotional moments with Jan and mailman Doug Hansen, a character portrayed by John Hawkes.
On the other hand, Brolin’s character had a story that really tugged at our heartstrings. He plays Beck Weathers, a slightly cocky Texan who was trying to fight depression by climbing Mount Everest. Despite his cocky attitude, Beck turns out to be one of the characters that made us shed a tear or two.
This is similar to Gyllenhaal’s character, Scott Fischer. Despite the lack of a backstory, Gyllenhaal’s role in “Everest” is pretty memorable. Scott is sort of a comedic relief in this film as he occasionally made us laugh with his odd and slightly problematic attitude. He wanted to prove that he is better than everyone else but he ended up stirring emotions more than the rest of the characters did.
All in all, I am glad that I did not know much about the Everest Disaster because it would’ve ruined the whole movie-watching experience. It’s a suspenseful film, especially if you have no idea who will die or who will make it out alive. It is also undoubtedly a visual masterpiece and watching it in IMAX 3D made every second worthwhile.
Sure, there are problems in terms of character development and pacing, but this is an emotionally beautiful, thrilling ride that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Slated to be released in Malaysia on 24th September 2015, “Everest” is produced by Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, Cross Creek Pictures’ Brian Oliver and Tyler Thompson, as well as Nicky Kentish Barnes and Kormákur.
It was shot on location in Nepal on the foothills of Everest, the Italian Alps, and at Cinecittà Studios in Rome and Pinewood Studios in the UK.