Movie Review: Everest (2015) Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal

Jason Clarke everest 2015 movie still

Tragic true story adapted into a 3-D drama thriller with great cast and negative impression on climbing the titular mountain

Based on the May 1996 disaster on Mount Everest that took several lives, Everest is a dramatised but considerably realistic and accurate film adaptation directed by Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns, Contraband) featuring a star-studded line-up of great actors. With unusual errors and too many climbers aiming to summit the world’s highest mountain at the same time, the groups of climbers find themselves in a struggle for survival in extreme low temperature and thin air.

Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) portrays Rob Hall, the lead guide of Adventure Consultants, a group of experienced climbers that help guide their clients to the top of mountains. Hall is specifically depicted by the film as an overly nice man with a soft spot, which becomes one of the reasons for his struggles. Jake Gyllenhaal (South Paw, Nightcrawler) on the other hand, portrays Hall’s competitor Scott Fischer, the lead guide of Mountain Madness, who’s a carefree-ish egoistic ass (no idea what his deal is) but is never too unreasonable or heartless to the lives of others. Both of them happen to be bringing a journalist for the ride in hopes for free advertisement. At Adventure Consultants, they have Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) whose book Into Thin Air would later become a bestseller due to this incident.

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Adventure Consultants’ clients include experienced climbers such as Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mouri) and Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), all whom are determined to conquer Mount Everest. It is their dream and passion, something which the film fails to truly convey. Yes, it is tasteless to make tragic tales into entertainment but many have already done it. The main thing is that they have to respect the real people involved and depict what really happened. From my brief research, I find that the latter is somewhat accomplished apart from the one or two poorly executed crucial scenes like one with the “empty” oxygen tanks, but the film does not show the beauty of the sport, the satisfaction of climbing and summiting a challenging mountain. Instead, it feels as though the film is trying to discourage the audience from attempting anything like it. However, at least the film isn’t a cliched or overly dramatic one. It educates through consequences over reward.

Keira Knightley (Imitation Game, Pirates of the Caribbean films), Robin Wright (reuniting with House of Cards co-actor Michael Kelly) and Sam Worthington are among the strong cast, playing wives and guide respectively. With this many big names above Clarke who plays the protagonist, it becomes pleasingly unpredictable who’d actually die, or die first. The acting performances are quite faultless. If anything, it’s the issues with the pacing and the inconsistent script, which is quite surprising coming from great screenwriters William Nicholson (Unbroken, Gladiator) and Simon Beaufoy (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 127 Hours). The development of the characters are poor, hence the lack of true emotional attachment to any of the characters, even for Hall which gets most of the wife-husband moments. Some scenes are rightly paced while some just breeze through (no pun intended) when it actually requires more drama and slow-building thrills to it.

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The film is technically brilliant, especially the CG and the spectacular cinematography by Salvatore Totino (The Dilemma, The Da Vinci Code) who manages to masterfully capture shots of the ice-cold snowy landscapes and everything on the mountain, which they didn’t actually film on titular location. But it’s immersive, it’s 100% believable, and it provides the thrills and chills even though there isn’t too much going on with the poorly developed characters whom I couldn’t care less about at all. Everest may be one of the best climbing flicks ever, but these technical aspects are the main reason for that.

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What I would’ve named the film: “Anti-Everest”

Malaysia censorship: I don’t think there was anything that required to be cut.

To watch in 3D? I didn’t watch it in 3-D. Not exactly the type of film I’d want to pay over 20 bucks for. But there have been praises that the 3-D effects are good as though it was only converted to that format in post-production.

Second opinion: My friend, Joe, loved the film and said that he may not have liked it as much if it wasn’t because of the 3-D.

Verdict: Realistic climbing-disaster drama with stunning visuals.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Jake Gyllenhaal Scott Fischer everest movie meme

everest 2015 movie poster uip malaysiaBased on: Actual events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster

Genre: Disaster drama, adventure thriller
Running Time: 121 mins
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Screenwriter: William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Michael Kelly, Robin Wright

Malaysia Release Date: 24 September 2015
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: (no info)
Production: Cross Creek Pictures, Walden Media, Working Title Films

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  1. Peter Millican

    I applaud Working Title for breaking new ground and not sticking to the 'Into Thin Air' version of the 1996 Everest tragedy, which is maybe why this book is not in this film's Credits, something that has not gone unnoticed by some professional reviewers.

    Working Title/the Director referred to Jon Krakauer as 'a writer who just happened to be on the mountain at the time'. To learn more about what actually caused this seminal event you will need to read 'A Day to Die For' and 'After the Wind'. Well done Working Title and Baltasar Kormakur for daring to break the mold!

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