Everest, the highest peak in the world, is an impossible dream, well, for most people that is. Climbing across bottomless ravines, against high-power winds, and through an ever-changing climate are just a few of the struggles faced by the Everest climber. Suffice it to say, the trek is not an easy one, illustrated by “Everest,” the star-studded action flick that made its way into theaters this Thursday, September 17th.
Depicting the Mount Everest disaster of 1996, “Everest” follows a group of tourist climbers led by New Zealand guide Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) during one of the worst climbing seasons in history. As the pack begins their ascent, everything seems to be going peachy, almost too peachy. An encroaching storm begins to threaten the climbers’ safety as they press on and remain determined to make it to the highest peak of the massive mountain. As the coughing fits from decreased levels of oxygen ensue, the encroaching sense of disaster becomes encompassing. Expect tired fingers from gripping the theater chair too tightly.
When things begin to go wrong, they really go wrong as the mountain trek becomes a nightmare. The team of climbers fail to descend before an approaching storm reaches the mountain’s peak, causing the already dangerous trek to be treacherous. Suffice it to say, a happy ending is not insight for some of the characters. Definitely pack your pockets or purse with a wad of tissues; you’ll need them for sure if only for a heart-wrenching scene between Jan Arnold (Keira Knightley) and husband Rob.
“Everest” promises an evening of visual splendor, begging the question of “how the heck did they film that?” Shots as crisp as the snow that blankets Everest itself will make you believe the star-studded cast actually ascended the behemoth mountain in order to film the feature. The excessive amounts of facial hair and aptly applied lacerations add to the spectacle and make you cringe every time someones spiked boot is near the face of the next climber.
But having a long laundry list of top-billing actors in one film always runs the risk of a having a lesser script. Unfortunately, “Everest” succumbs to this issue by following the storylines of numerous characters. Although the story and cast is led by Rob, each character is provided a small amount of screen time, which ultimately means that no one is particularly developed. For instance, Oscar nominee Emily Watson, while delivering a brilliant, emotional performance, becomes the woman on the other end of the walkie talkie.
A reason for excitement when watching “Everest” is Golden Globe winner Robin Wright has a supporting role yet supporting is an understatement; Wright occupies the screen for less than ten minutes, which, other than the fact that her presence allows the story to remain historically based, acts as a simple plot device that saves the life of Josh Brolin’s character. To best illustrate this point, here is the list of stars that portray the story of “Everest”: Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Zero Dark Thirty), Jake Gyllenhaal (South Paw, Nightcrawler), Josh Brolin (Labor Day, Sicario), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, Lincoln), Sam Worthington (Avatar, Cake), Robin Wright (House of Cards, The Princess Bride), Michael Kelly (House of Cards, Man of Steel), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), and Emily Watson (Little Boy, The Theory of Everything). Between the huge cast and the presence of snow, “Everest” could almost be confused with one of the many Christmas family dramadies that have become synonymous with the holiday season.
Nevertheless, “Everest” features powerful, emotional performances that will make you forget about the scattered storyline until you realize Jake Gyllenhaal has been absent for 20 minutes. “Everest” is not one to be missed.
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