The most climbing I have ever done in my life came from rock climbing in silo somewhere in central Illinois. I have never climbed any actual mountains or wildlife. But I admire people who make it a very powerful part of their lives. Climbing mountains, big and small, seems like a lot of fun and it takes a certain kind of person to be able to do that all time. "Everest" is a movie about those types of people, and how they chose to survive when Mother Nature decided to pull a fast one of them.
"Everest" tells the story of a real 1996 disaster that claimed the lives of eight people. Two separate expeditions went up to tackle Mount Everest that year, and a violent snowstorm came in just as the some of the climbers reached the top of the mountain. The snowstorm was so terrible, it completely destroyed the trail back down the mountain, leaving the expeditions stranded and no way for an easy or appropriate rescue. One of the bodies of the climbers who passed away in the affair is still there today. Its a harrowing story about survival, and that is exactly what you get, a harrowing story. This story is brought to life by a wonderful cast that includes Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, John Hawkes, and Martin Henderson.
One thing I think people will appreciate is that the science of climbing and surviving on the highest peak in the world plays a big part in the movie. This doesn't feel like dumbed down Hollywood movie just to grab lots of cash. This is a carefully researched and equally carefully drawn out thriller. Yes, once the storm hits, things get pretty tense, but the movie takes its time setting things up. I would not really call "Everest" a slow burn, but I like that it takes time setting up the characters. I like that it gives the audience a chance to care about them before plunging them into the cold abyss. So few movies do that anymore, and it feels like a breath of fresh air when a movie remembers that its story is driven by its characters. The more the audience cares about them, the better.
There is great acting all around, but the two performances that stick out the most are Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin. I think Clarke has been gearing up to become a superstar for quite sometime now, and you may think he's already there. He delivers another fine performance here, creating a character we can all relate to. He is perfectly matched with Josh Brolin, who is always reliable. The two actors have a near perfect dynamic and they drive the movie well together. I don't want that to sound like a buddy movie, because it isn't. Every piece of this film's ensemble is perfectly selected. You could pick any actor on the list and I could tell you with open honesty that they deliver. There is nothing like a group of talented people laying it down for their audience.
The actors are in a good looking movie. This is a movie where Everest is the backdrop, so the setting had to be stunning, and believe me it is. The cinematography is absolutely masterful, some of the very best I have seen all year. If you like movies for the pretty pictures in the background, then definitely go and find the best screen you can to see this on. I have no clue how authentic the sets are, but they certainly fooled me, and that is an achievement all to itself.
While I personally appreciate the care it took to bring this to life, some of you may not like a movie that is more on the talky side. Even though I liked all the character development, there were a couple parts of the movie I think were a little lagging in some areas, and could have possibly been made more appropriately. No matter, so much is right here that's its hard to feel too let down. See this at the best theater you can find. You won't regret it.
FINAL GRADE: B+