Everest SPOILER-FREE Review
Everest tells the story of the 1996 expedition to climb the titular mountain led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), and the horror that ensued. In its first week of release, Everest was available only in IMAX 3D. Which was fine by me, because that's exactly the way I planned on seeing it. From the looks of the trailer, the scope of the film seemed incredible, and I really wanted to be immersed in the film-- the height and the depth and everything attributed to climbing the tallest mountain in the world. And let me tell you, it's definitely worth the extra money. This is a film made to be experienced in IMAX, and the 3D enhances it. Throughout the entire expedition I was writhing in my seat because I felt the discomfort of the climbers, as I should have been. This is an immersive film, though it's not without its faults.
The film struggles in its first half as it drags and drudges through over an hour of talking and planning. The first half of the film is the main characters simply talking about the expedition. It's sprinkled with some shots of the characters preparing themselves by braving the elements for a limited amount of time as a way to adjust to the climate, but this first half is kind of hard to get through. But regardless, it's still very important to the movie as a whole. What this first half does is it gets us invested in the characters. The more time we spend with these characters, the more attached we become to them, so when bad things happen to them in the second half of the film it has more weight. If the movie had simply opened with them beginning the climb, there wouldn't be as much heaviness and stakes, because you would not be invested in the characters at all.
But the second half of this film is incredible. Sure it's a slow burn to get to Everest, but it's well worth the wait. This second half is relentless and so intense that I was having a physical reaction in my seat. You feel the cold. You feel the discomfort and pain and agony that these characters feel. This is mainly due to the fantastic performances from an ensemble cast. What I really liked was that this wasn't just Jason Clarke's movie: this was everyone's film. Everyone contributed- including Josh Brolin, Michael Kelly, Jake Gyllenhaal and Sam Worthington. Kiera Knightley also gives a small but great performance as Clarke's wife.
The scope and the scale of the film, all immersive, is mainly due to the incredible visual effects. I could not pick apart which scenes were filmed on location and which were done with a green screen. Everything felt real and life-like, which added to my investment in the film. I give full props to director Baltasar Kormákur, who pulled off the visual aspect of this film flawlessly. But this movie falls victim to style-over-substance, where the effects and visuals are absolutely stunning, but the story is flat. And that is what happened here with Everest. Even though the beginning was necessary for you to feel the emotional "umph" with the characters, it could have been done better. It could have had a faster pace and been more enjoyable so that it didn't keep dragging on and on. But while part one of this movie may have been hard to get through, part two was well worth the wait.
Overall, Everest is a visual feast. IMAX and 3D is used excellently to make you feel the discomfort of the climbers, and have you fully experience this film. It's a really immersive movie, led by great performances from an ensemble cast. The effects are fantastic, and it's practically impossible to distinguish real location from green screen. However, the first half of this movie, while necessary to the rest of the film, drags on and is quite boring. If the film was tightened up a bit and the pacing was improved, this would have come out as a better movie overall. What this film suffers from is style-over-substance, where the effects become the forefront to hide the weaker story. But while Everest has it's faults, it is still very much an enjoyable film.
What do you think? Did you see Everest? Did you like it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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