Review: Everest


Director:Baltasar Kormákur

Cast:Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Kelly, Emily Watson

Running Time:121 Minutes


Until the early "˜90s, Nepal's Mount Everest was climbed only by the bravest and most experienced mountaineers in the world. But after a successful trip, it became a huge tourist attraction for the wealthy and adventurous. Everest, based on Jon Krakauer's page-turner Into Thin Air, follows the tragic 1996 expedition, which left eight dead.

Unfortunately, Everest often follows the boilerplate biopic template, simply introducing us to characters "“ and there are quite a lot "“ and moving the story quickly to hit the highlights while failing to make us care about most of these characters. It's not until the film's final act, the triumphant ascent and deadly descent up the summit, that there's much excitement to be found.

This is through no fault of the terrific cast, which also includes Keira Knightley, Robin Wright and Sam Worthington. Jason Clarke is solid as climb leader Rob Hall, who butts heads with his competition, the more risk-taking Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal). While both respect the mountain, they both make critical judgment errors in an effort to please their clients who want to push their bodies further than they will allow.

Where Everest fails to engage is in the writing, which is perfunctory at best. Characters are constantly reminded that this climb will be tough but worth it, occasionally dropping in climber lingo (e.g. shortening oxygen to "O"). And director Balthasar Kormákur (2 Guns) has consistently proven that he has no distinct style to speak of. His movies are as generic as can be.

Still, it's hard not to stare, mouth agape, at the highest point on Earth. The cinematography is often breathtaking, and the sound editing is among the best and most bombastic of the year. That makes up for the lack of quality dialogue or the occasional lapses in special effects. (You can definitely tell when they're shooting on a green screen and not on an actual mountain.)

Everest may have great views and great company, but it doesn't have much to say.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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