It's a sad fact that Mt Everest is littered with the bodies of those that came, saw yet did not conquer. Due to the weather, terrain, altitude and danger, those bodies are forever left up there, never to be returned to their families and given a Gina farewell. For decades, Everest was reserved only for the most experienced and hardened climbers, but eventually the glory of reaching the top proved too tempting to the average man and a new tourist attraction was born. By the mid 90s, Everest tourism was still in its infancy and growing at incredible rates, however someone forgot to tell the mountain. Everest was then and remains today one of the deadliest locations on Earth. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or how experienced you are, you cannot control the mountain, the mountain controls you. Up until a 2014 avalanche, the 1996 Everest climbing season was the mountain's deadliest on record. Many books have been written and accounts have been made of the events of that season by its survivors, most notably, journalist Jon Krakauer who was there writing a magazine story at the time. Now, for the first time, a fictionalised feature film has been made recounting those tragic days.
New Zealand expedition leader Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) is heading off to Everest with his team from Adventure Consultants for the climbing season, leaving his pregnant wife Jan (Keira Knightly) back home. Arriving in Nepal, it appears to be the busiest year yet, with more and more guided companies popping up and therefore more climbers. One such company is Mountain Madness run by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) who’s currently bitter over the fact that Rob has snaked his journalist, Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) for a feature story. With each team aiming for a summit date of May 10, some companies partner up to make for a safer ascent, while others decide it’s every man for themselves. With a deadly storm looming, the climbers make their way up - but not everyone comes back down.
Director Baltasar Kormákur ('2 Guns') along with screenwriters William Nicholson ('Gladiator') and Simon Beaufoy ('127 Hours') have committed an incredible amount of research and detail into this film. In spite of the characters' personal issues and backstories, this film is surprisingly not as sentimental as you would expect, focusing more on the existential climbers' question of what drives them to do what they do, and of course the film's protagonist, the mountain itself. Using natural and studio filming locations around the world including Nepal and Base Camp itself, the filmmakers have composed a visually impressive film. However, despite the film’s scope and subject, its actions and physicality don’t quite translate to its audience and we’re left a little flat. While the obvious screen deaths are drawn out and laborious, it’s the ones you don’t see coming that are too sudden and almost laughable as characters literally fall off the screen.
Director Baltasar Kormákur has committed an incredible amount of research and detail into this film.
Not your average disaster movie, as this one is based on a tragic true story and not the worst-case global warming scenario or asteroid about to hit Earth. It’s no surprise that this film deserves to be seen on a cinema or IMAX screen - luckily for audiences, both are available. With a grand and gifted cast including Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Elizabeth Debicki, Sam Worthington and Robin Wright, ‘Everest’ is a film where you come for the story but stay for the show.