By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Reaching the top of earth’s highest mountain is a challenge that endangers the life of anyone who attempts it.  Several people have achieved this goal and lived to tell about it.  Others have either died trying or succeeded, but didn’t survive the climb down.   In 1996 two expedition groups attempted to climb Everest; however, a severe blizzard struck, resulting in the deaths of eight people.  Director Baltasar Kormakur (Contraband, 2 Guns) has made a movie which recounts the events of this disaster and sheds some light on the people who braved the elements for the experience of a lifetime.

The film features an impressive ensemble cast performing as the people involved in these events.  Jason Clarke and Jake Gyllenhaal star as rival expedition leaders Rob Hall and Scott Fischer.  Once colleagues, Hall and Fischer parted ways when Fischer began his own business taking people on expeditions.  Hall and Fischer are both responsible for preparing their groups for the challenges ahead and guiding them through the grueling and hazardous process.  The groups include Dr. Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), jounalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), and Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori).   Regardless of the preparation, training and precautions taken by the expeditions, the weather and elements always present challenges and dangers for which no one can ever be completely prepared.

Kormakur’s film looks absolutely gorgeous and the visual effects are astounding.  The film is playing on IMAX screens and I cannot recommend any other way to see it.  The cinematography by Salvatore Totino deserves to be experienced in all of its gorgeousness on a gargantuan screen.  Those suffering from vertigo may not enjoy the experience so much.  However, if one can handle dizzying heights or the illusion of it, IMAX is the way to go.  While the film is aesthetically impressive, the film’s script does fall somewhat short in some moments.

Written by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy, Everest does a fine job offering insight into the lives of the people involved in the expedition, providing glimpses into their backgrounds and personal lives.  The writing falters when the film gets to some of the scenes where death is imminent for some of the main characters.  Those scenes play out rather melodramatically.  It felt as if the filmmakers were trying really hard to make “Oscar clips” instead of capturing genuine and real moments.

I will reiterate that nothing about the visuals in the film look fake or staged, though. Despite the issues I have with the writing, I still strongly recommend this film even if for just a one time viewing.  A respectable home theater system would be fine for seeing the movie, but if one has the opportunity to experience it on IMAX, I absolutely believe it is worth it.  The movie itself is rather thrilling; however, the IMAX presentation makes it even more breathtaking.


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