Why would anybody want to climb Mount Everest? What could possibly propel anybody to climb a mountain so high, that your body is pushed to the point of death? These are the questions that I want to see asked in a film about the mountain; questions that are touched upon, but not in enough detail, in the star-studded Everest.
A tragic, true story about an expedition to the summit of Mt. Everest in 1996, which ended in death – Everest could very well have gone in two very different directions.
The story brims with human drama, yet the potential for spectacle is there too. The temptation to turn the story into some kind of Roland Emmerich-style disaster movie, must have been hard for the studio to resist – but, thankfully, Baltasar Kormáku’s film balances the humanity and the special effects with ease.
In a way, it’s a perfectly built machine that sets out to move you, scare you and entertain you – which it largely achieves for the most part. You’ll know exactly what you’re going to get from it, as soon as you hear the opening few bars of score which immediately sets the tone of the film; but that isn’t to say it hinders Everest in any way.
Despite its formulaic structure, Everest still managed to make my jaw drop at several moments, make me shake my fists in frustration, and very nearly drew out my tears. There’s no denying that whilst it’s far from memorable or anything truly special, Everest does what it does, well.
The a-list cast are a big help, with Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal and John Hawkes putting in great performances whenever they are on the screen. Unfortunately, with so many characters, it means that the balance of each person is off and there are large chunks of the film where cast members are absent.
The actors with the real tough roles though are Keria Knightley, Robin Wright and Emily Watson, who are given the challenge of bringing life to their characters when they are essentially playing ‘her indoors’. To be fair to each, they all do fantastic work and I wish we’d only got to spend more time with them; especially Robin Wright who shines in the little time she has on screen.
In the end, it’s the frustrating lack of development behind the central adventurers that really lets Everest down. Despite being based on real people, their on screen personas amount to nothing short of characiture.
“Why Everest?” – It’s a question that’s asked in one of the film’s sequences, to which we’re never given the full answer. Depression and business – of both the financial and unfinished kind – are hinted to be amongst some of the reasons, but without really understanding these people’s motivations; without really getting under their skin; Everest fails to amount to anything more than a safe and ultimately forgettable feature.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com