Saturday, March 5, 2016

Everest

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Spoiler Alert:  Everest is the mountain and, as it turns out, is the killer.



Everest – 4 out of 5

I’m not an active man.  I’m not even someone you would describe as outdoors-y.  The most physical activity I see and the most I see the world outside a building is for the hour a day I spend in the morning before work running or walking.  So it’s pretty much a solid bet that I would never, EVER try to climb even the smallest mountain or even wanna look in the general direction of the mammoth that is Everest—heck, I live on a large hill and even that is too much for me.  When I saw the trailer for Everest, I was super intrigued because I love stories of human survival (especially when they are based on true events) and I even teased the idea of going to see this in IMAX.  However, I quickly remembered that even though I’m not scared of heights, I definitely like to avoid them.  So, ultimately, it seemed like a stupid idea to see this film on IMAX because I bet that experience would enhance the heights of a mountain to "I regret buying this ticket" levels.  Instead, I decided to wait it out for home release so I could watch it in an environment where the highest elevation I’m at is sitting on my couch.

Now this is my kind of mountain climbing.  I can do this no problem.

Based on the true story of a tragic Everest climb in 1996, this film sees a man named Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) leading a group of adventurers out to climb the highest peak on this planet.  Even though they are literally traveling to an area that is slowly killing them as they continue their journey towards its tip, glory, bragging rights and the spiteful desire to spit in the face of Mother Nature itself pushes them forward.  Every seems like it’s going great and they are about to get to the tippy top…but then a storm approaches…

Even though it is dangerous to get up there, they weren't surprised to find a
Starbucks at the peak.

Pretty much everything you read about Everest is wicked interesting.  It’s a place that man was just not meant to explore because our bodies literally die while up there.  It’s no different than going down to the deepest depths of the ocean or trying to spend a single second at a Trump rally; it’s dangerous and can easily be the last place you ever see alive.  I wouldn’t say I’m a geek for Everest but I’ve read some interesting articles about climbers both defeating and being defeated by the land formation and the story of the doomed climb in 1996 by commercial expeditions is just too interesting to not see adapted into a dramatic tale.

"Owww.  I'm cold and dying and I also fell on my keys!"

This movie has an incredible cast working in its favor with the likes of Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin and Robin Wright filling the call sheet.  Even more surprising was the fact that Sam Worthington—an actor I do NOT enjoy and have, on countless reviews, complained about his overacting—was in the cast and did a tremendous job at playing a grounded and realistic character.  Seconded only to the drama of the story, the performances are, without a doubt, the best part of this film.  In fact, the performances helped back up the very noticeable weaker elements and helped me enjoy this film more than it might have deserved.

"So...um...I'm not sure how to ask this but...where do we shit when we're at
the top?"

One of the worst aspects of this film is the fact the character development is absolutely atrocious.  There’s a lot of characters—and I mean A LOT (see, I capitalized and bolded that in order to illustrate how many characters are in this thing)—and the writers did not do a very good job at developing them, giving them decent introductions for the viewer and only made a few of them sympathetic enough to feel something deeper for them when the horrors arrive on the mountain.  Too often characters get introduced out of nowhere and are treated like we should have known who they were or like they were introduced more adequately in a deleted scene that was left on the cutting room floor and when this was combinedwith how the more prominent characters are lazily introduced into the story, it made the drama hard to really envelope myself into because I barely knew these characters and the only real feelings I was forming for them was a general well-wishing and desire to see them not be claimed by the Spector of Death.  

I would have not been surprised at all if an actually skeleton in a cloak carrying
a scythe walked out of the fog.

A few characters are developed better than others because we are shown they have loved ones waiting for them somewhere else on the globe or that this is their latest attempt at dominating the mountain and this results in their stories delivering a little more impact but other characters don’t get this.  Things get even worse when these characters that get little-to-no development are suddenly treated like plot-intricate characters and are suddenly subjects of great importance.  This is all well and good but when they are developed like junk, I found myself saying, “Who is this person trying to save the day?  Was he there the whole time?”

"No one told us it would be cold up here!!!"

Even though the development in this movie is truly sloppy and, to be honest, kinda sucks, the film is still very moving within its bleak atmosphere.  When the shit storm hits in this film, all seems lost and it gets super depressing.  Director Baltasar Korm├íkur truly succeeded with hitting all the right emotional notes.  Whether it be the heartbreaking moments of seeing a character give in to the altitude sickness or a cry for help going unheard or getting that moment to say goodbye to the ones they love were all gut-wrenching and tear-inducing but even with all these dark moments, there are some great uplifting moments like when exhausted climbers struggle to save each other or someone left for dead rising like a phoenix to make it back to base camp.  Even though the development of the characters was mishandled in my opinion, the basic human drama and emotions that is derived from the events make up for it and really helped suck me in for the final act of the feature.  Granted, it could be argued by the more jaded and snobby critics that this type of drama is easy because it plays to our most basic emotions and to the simplest parts of the human condition and, while that is clearly true, I won’t deny how strong this route for storytelling can be.

Boop.

Visually, Everest is a treat for the eyes as the locales are gorgeous and the special effects used to create the higher peaks that would be impossible to shoot on look extremely realistic.  Yes, I think the film failed greatly when it came to establishing and building the characters in the film but the story is interesting, dramatic and very moving.  However, it is still a very heavy and bleak tale that tries to offer up a happy ending but the final act gets so horrific, so heartbreaking and traumatic that it’s nearly impossible to get the film back to even a semblance of the more optimistic tone it had towards the beginning.  Ultimately, however, having a film that did leave me with a sinking feeling in the heart (or, as the kids say, “feeling all the feels” or whatever), I never felt like I was offered up a bad viewing experience.  Everest isn’t without its problems but it still provides a very powerful and emotionally epic tale about human beings who are willing to go out and test their mettle against the harshest of the harsh environments in existence.  Meanwhile, I can barely overcome my social awkwardness enough to use a checkout station that isn’t the self-checkout at Wal-Mart.

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