Everest

Visually vast, cinematically ambitious


Everest

  • Visually vast, cinematically ambitious

Everest

  • Visually vast, cinematically ambitious


Rated

PG-13

Starring

Jason Clarke
Jake Gyllehnaal
Josh Brolin
Emily Watson
Sam Worthington

Written by

William Nicholson
Simon Beaufoy

Directed by

Baltasar Kormákur



coming up

What to Expect

Of late, I’ve taken an unusually keen interest in the Hollywood directorial stint of Icelandic actor-producer-director Baltasar Kormákur.

And that’s not because of his small-scale (collaborative) American debut with the ’05 drama A Little Trip to Heaven; no. In fact, it is primarily the release of Mark Wahlberg starrer Contraband (interestingly, a remake of the Icelandic action-thriller Reykjavík-Rotterdam, which he starred in) which perked my interest in the director up to no end. Now, let’s be fair; the movie isn’t an instant classic, and wades itself through a large stratosphere of clichés and mainstream narrative trademarks. In short, it was supposed to be the least impressive thing for me to have observed.

And superficially, it could have been.

However, the pace, and the inevitable, rather interesting narrative turns did allow me to be relatively better involved; interested even, to watch the film’s proceedings unfold. And that’s the thing about directors for me; if they’re perfectly capable of executing and putting together an interestingly woven narrative embellished with just the right amount of cinematic punch – that, from only the most deadbeat, cliché-ridden screenplay they could get – one can definitely imagine what’s creatively in store for them (and us, as an audience to their effort) if they have within the palms of their hands an ambitious project.

And for Kormákur, Everest certainly seems to show within himself a possible glimmer of ambition. You’ve got him collaborating with commendable writers William Nicholson (Les Miserables) and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours). Add to that the stellar cast consisting of Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Emily Watson (Punch-Drunk Love), Keira Knightley (Begin Again) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) among others, and laymen possibly unaware of the director have their expectations perfectly set. But I guess the cast wasn’t particularly ever the problem with the director now, was it?

What’s really left now is for him to prove himself to the crowds. Because more than anything else, this most definitely looks like a cinematic upgrade from his last theatrical release 2 Guns. And that’s where the pressure builds up, mostly because films centered around natural disasters do tend to slip more toward a gratuitously formulaic writing style than anything else. Having been based on the ’96 Mount Everest disaster that caught many a summit unaware, however, this definitely has a one-up over a whole lot of other fictional, almost gimmicky counterparts. Expectations, thus, for this film, are at a justifiable high-point there’s no looking back from.

Scary for the makers? Hell yeah. Successful? Well, that’s what is to be seen to know. And that’s where I come in.

What’s it About?

Two expeditions. Several climbers. And one looming disaster.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The struggle

The struggle

One of the biggest qualms of potential viewers would probably be their skeptic sides reconsidering if they’d want to watch a film “based on a true story” where they all know the inevitable end. In a situation like this, all a layperson needs from a film is to grip them, envelop them and transport them to the world they’re present in the cinemas to see the fictionalized account of. And most films fall prey to a certain kind of to-do list that I’ve already brushed upon before.

Well, Everest is quite the different film in that respect, for many a reason.

For starters, the process of character building of our primary protagonist Rob Hall – his loved ones, his surroundings et al – occurs simultaneously with the progress of the film’s story structure, which satisfyingly gets to business as soon as the film begins with its first shot. A brief set of slides allow us to get to the same wavelength as the film – an oft-repeated trick within biographical, historically-aligned and real life accounts, but as the film reaches its first twenty minutes, you may realize you didn’t mind the piece of (admittedly expository) info you got then as you would usually.

An arguable frustration within viewers of this film would probably be the lack of focus on a singular character; but then again, this is not a character-driven, but a story-driven film. While the characters and their motives are pretty clear, you’re not allowed to have a whole lot of time investing in their emotional dynamics. Now, it could be a bad thing, but it isn’t, really. It does, on the contrary, allow us to get a wider perspective on the inevitable disaster that took place within the bracket of time covered in the film. There are many people doing many different things, and while it’s easy enough to keep track, what overwhelms you as a viewer is not the amount of characters, but the metaphorical enemy that is the maniacal storm that covers the Everest and (slightly less so) its surrounding areas, and what it can do.

While the narrative definitely makes way for a few historical inaccuracies (most of which, if stated, may spoil it for those who have little to no idea about the story behind the story), the film stands strong despite them all, mostly due to its progressively tense narrative that – even for those who have a knowledge of the juncture this thread ended in – allows you to be invested with an oftentimes nail-biting madness. There’s a certain horror laced within the impacts the narrative tends to hit upon, and most of this spruced up emotion translates brilliantly. Add to that the fact that many of the processes, human or otherwise, of climbing up and making their way down, are quite accurate (no, not like Cliffhanger. Cliffhanger was not accurate. Sorry guys).

And one of the primary reasons it does is it’s visual vastness, allowing us – the audience – to accurately respond to the emotional buttons the movie’s trying to press within us. Cinematographer Salvatore Totino (The Da Vinci Code) gives the film some splendid landscape shots, allowing the viewers to absorb what’s about to come. Every impact shot is placed on a wider angle, which gives us a more metaphorically silent blow; one where you’re still reeling many moments after, trying to process what just happened. Editor Mick Audsley’s edit decisions tilt largely towards a consistently linear narrative. What he does here, however, is to allow parallel storylines to flow on a balanced plane when the time requires it. Every shot describes the trials and tribulations of the climbers, but we’re thankfully not allowed to see an overexcited editor (or director guiding him, by) speeding things up by reducing shot handles. Instead, each shot is calm, composed and calculated, and knit together, you’re allowed to suck in the complete experience. The film is additionally filled with strong visual-effects compositing that blends in beautifully; you’re almost never sure if you could point out between composited and wholly practical finals. The film’s sound design lends splendid support, and Dario Marianelli’s score only goes to enhance it, appearing only when needed.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The ambition

The ambition

Boasting of a terrific cast, the film deliberately refrains from focussing obsessively on a particular character as much as is possible. What you’re seeing on a relatively regular basis throughout most of the film, however, is Jason Clarke. Taking on the role of Rob Hall of Adventure Consultants, Clarke looks and feels largely like the human being we’d all want to admire. There’s a beautiful blend of confidence, vulnerability and restraing that he shows within himself, and the people around him, and he truly excels at knocking your doors and asking you to believe in his earnestness. Bringing in some enjoyable banter within the first half of the film is Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw), whose conversations with Clarke are wildly entertaining, and balance Clarke’s oft-overwhelming genuineness with Gyllenhaal’s cocky confidence. His portrayal of Scott Fischer is an enjoyable one with dollops of confidence. His first half may be pretty uneventful for his standards, but it is in the second half of the film where he excels in portraying some very uncomfortable emotion. Coming close on tracks are Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice) and John Hawkes (Life of Crime), both of whom I personally admire a whole lot for what they’re able to give to their films. There’s a certain emotional attachment we come to have for them progressively, and their portrayal of these humans is spot on. Keira Knightley has a short, almost inconsequential, role. But there’s a lot of raw emotion she’s able to handle beautifully through her character’s total runtime. Robin Wright is decent, but doesn’t do much. Sam Worthington may not have much to do within the film’s first half, but is an able presence by the time it’s over. Emily Watson is brilliant. She may not have one of the more prominent characters to portray, but she displays an assortment of performative dynamics within the time she’s on screen, and it shows. There’s the strength, the vulnerability and the emotional overwhelmingness and each of them – of the many – has an accurate and called-for reason to be around. An interesting on-screen surprise here would be Elizabeth Debicki, who plays the medical help to Clarke’s expedition team. She, in stark contrast to her drawling, sinister image in The Man from U. N. C. L. E., gives out a contrastingly low-key performance here, and is almost unrecognizable to the layperson. And then there’s Michael Kelly (the douche dad in Chronicle) who plays the one that began to voice out his side of the whole story – Jon Krakauer. Now, while he plays an important piece in the real-life puzzle, he’s not focussed much on at all. Which is a relief, because seeing as it is, I’ve become slightly worn out by cliche-ridden POV narratives with sombre voiceovers taking out everything the films could have offered instead.

Worth it?

A few narrative slip-ups and unnecessary deviances from actual occurrences aside, Everest most definitely warrants a big-screen exercise. Baltasar Kormákur, as successful he is at creating consistently entertaining narratives out of heavily formulaic storylines, proves to the audience that he’s as adept at handling visually vast, cinematically ambitious landscapes such as the movie in question. Beaufoy and Nicholson’s screenplay is given a respectable treatment and execution by Kormákur, who puts together a wildly talented ensemble cast and crew to bring a seemingly slippery slope as this to life. And to some, it has the potential to stay on even a day after the film has been witnessed.

Definitely recommended, especially on an IMAX screen, should it be a possibility.

Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us


Rated

PG-13

Starring

Jason Clarke
Jake Gyllehnaal
Josh Brolin
Emily Watson
Sam Worthington

Written by

William Nicholson
Simon Beaufoy

Directed by

Baltasar Kormákur



What to Expect

Of late, I’ve taken an unusually keen interest in the Hollywood directorial stint of Icelandic actor-producer-director Baltasar Kormákur.

And that’s not because of his small-scale (collaborative) American debut with the ’05 drama A Little Trip to Heaven; no. In fact, it is primarily the release of Mark Wahlberg starrer Contraband (interestingly, a remake of the Icelandic action-thriller Reykjavík-Rotterdam, which he starred in) which perked my interest in the director up to no end. Now, let’s be fair; the movie isn’t an instant classic, and wades itself through a large stratosphere of clichés and mainstream narrative trademarks. In short, it was supposed to be the least impressive thing for me to have observed.

And superficially, it could have been.

However, the pace, and the inevitable, rather interesting narrative turns did allow me to be relatively better involved; interested even, to watch the film’s proceedings unfold. And that’s the thing about directors for me; if they’re perfectly capable of executing and putting together an interestingly woven narrative embellished with just the right amount of cinematic punch – that, from only the most deadbeat, cliché-ridden screenplay they could get – one can definitely imagine what’s creatively in store for them (and us, as an audience to their effort) if they have within the palms of their hands an ambitious project.

And for Kormákur, Everest certainly seems to show within himself a possible glimmer of ambition. You’ve got him collaborating with commendable writers William Nicholson (Les Miserables) and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours). Add to that the stellar cast consisting of Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Emily Watson (Punch-Drunk Love), Keira Knightley (Begin Again) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) among others, and laymen possibly unaware of the director have their expectations perfectly set. But I guess the cast wasn’t particularly ever the problem with the director now, was it?

What’s really left now is for him to prove himself to the crowds. Because more than anything else, this most definitely looks like a cinematic upgrade from his last theatrical release 2 Guns. And that’s where the pressure builds up, mostly because films centered around natural disasters do tend to slip more toward a gratuitously formulaic writing style than anything else. Having been based on the ’96 Mount Everest disaster that caught many a summit unaware, however, this definitely has a one-up over a whole lot of other fictional, almost gimmicky counterparts. Expectations, thus, for this film, are at a justifiable high-point there’s no looking back from.

Scary for the makers? Hell yeah. Successful? Well, that’s what is to be seen to know. And that’s where I come in.

What’s it About?

Two expeditions. Several climbers. And one looming disaster.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The struggle

The struggle

One of the biggest qualms of potential viewers would probably be their skeptic sides reconsidering if they’d want to watch a film “based on a true story” where they all know the inevitable end. In a situation like this, all a layperson needs from a film is to grip them, envelop them and transport them to the world they’re present in the cinemas to see the fictionalized account of. And most films fall prey to a certain kind of to-do list that I’ve already brushed upon before.

Well, Everest is quite the different film in that respect, for many a reason.

For starters, the process of character building of our primary protagonist Rob Hall – his loved ones, his surroundings et al – occurs simultaneously with the progress of the film’s story structure, which satisfyingly gets to business as soon as the film begins with its first shot. A brief set of slides allow us to get to the same wavelength as the film – an oft-repeated trick within biographical, historically-aligned and real life accounts, but as the film reaches its first twenty minutes, you may realize you didn’t mind the piece of (admittedly expository) info you got then as you would usually.

An arguable frustration within viewers of this film would probably be the lack of focus on a singular character; but then again, this is not a character-driven, but a story-driven film. While the characters and their motives are pretty clear, you’re not allowed to have a whole lot of time investing in their emotional dynamics. Now, it could be a bad thing, but it isn’t, really. It does, on the contrary, allow us to get a wider perspective on the inevitable disaster that took place within the bracket of time covered in the film. There are many people doing many different things, and while it’s easy enough to keep track, what overwhelms you as a viewer is not the amount of characters, but the metaphorical enemy that is the maniacal storm that covers the Everest and (slightly less so) its surrounding areas, and what it can do.

While the narrative definitely makes way for a few historical inaccuracies (most of which, if stated, may spoil it for those who have little to no idea about the story behind the story), the film stands strong despite them all, mostly due to its progressively tense narrative that – even for those who have a knowledge of the juncture this thread ended in – allows you to be invested with an oftentimes nail-biting madness. There’s a certain horror laced within the impacts the narrative tends to hit upon, and most of this spruced up emotion translates brilliantly. Add to that the fact that many of the processes, human or otherwise, of climbing up and making their way down, are quite accurate (no, not like Cliffhanger. Cliffhanger was not accurate. Sorry guys).

And one of the primary reasons it does is it’s visual vastness, allowing us – the audience – to accurately respond to the emotional buttons the movie’s trying to press within us. Cinematographer Salvatore Totino (The Da Vinci Code) gives the film some splendid landscape shots, allowing the viewers to absorb what’s about to come. Every impact shot is placed on a wider angle, which gives us a more metaphorically silent blow; one where you’re still reeling many moments after, trying to process what just happened. Editor Mick Audsley’s edit decisions tilt largely towards a consistently linear narrative. What he does here, however, is to allow parallel storylines to flow on a balanced plane when the time requires it. Every shot describes the trials and tribulations of the climbers, but we’re thankfully not allowed to see an overexcited editor (or director guiding him, by) speeding things up by reducing shot handles. Instead, each shot is calm, composed and calculated, and knit together, you’re allowed to suck in the complete experience. The film is additionally filled with strong visual-effects compositing that blends in beautifully; you’re almost never sure if you could point out between composited and wholly practical finals. The film’s sound design lends splendid support, and Dario Marianelli’s score only goes to enhance it, appearing only when needed.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The ambition

The ambition

Boasting of a terrific cast, the film deliberately refrains from focussing obsessively on a particular character as much as is possible. What you’re seeing on a relatively regular basis throughout most of the film, however, is Jason Clarke. Taking on the role of Rob Hall of Adventure Consultants, Clarke looks and feels largely like the human being we’d all want to admire. There’s a beautiful blend of confidence, vulnerability and restraing that he shows within himself, and the people around him, and he truly excels at knocking your doors and asking you to believe in his earnestness. Bringing in some enjoyable banter within the first half of the film is Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw), whose conversations with Clarke are wildly entertaining, and balance Clarke’s oft-overwhelming genuineness with Gyllenhaal’s cocky confidence. His portrayal of Scott Fischer is an enjoyable one with dollops of confidence. His first half may be pretty uneventful for his standards, but it is in the second half of the film where he excels in portraying some very uncomfortable emotion. Coming close on tracks are Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice) and John Hawkes (Life of Crime), both of whom I personally admire a whole lot for what they’re able to give to their films. There’s a certain emotional attachment we come to have for them progressively, and their portrayal of these humans is spot on. Keira Knightley has a short, almost inconsequential, role. But there’s a lot of raw emotion she’s able to handle beautifully through her character’s total runtime. Robin Wright is decent, but doesn’t do much. Sam Worthington may not have much to do within the film’s first half, but is an able presence by the time it’s over. Emily Watson is brilliant. She may not have one of the more prominent characters to portray, but she displays an assortment of performative dynamics within the time she’s on screen, and it shows. There’s the strength, the vulnerability and the emotional overwhelmingness and each of them – of the many – has an accurate and called-for reason to be around. An interesting on-screen surprise here would be Elizabeth Debicki, who plays the medical help to Clarke’s expedition team. She, in stark contrast to her drawling, sinister image in The Man from U. N. C. L. E., gives out a contrastingly low-key performance here, and is almost unrecognizable to the layperson. And then there’s Michael Kelly (the douche dad in Chronicle) who plays the one that began to voice out his side of the whole story – Jon Krakauer. Now, while he plays an important piece in the real-life puzzle, he’s not focussed much on at all. Which is a relief, because seeing as it is, I’ve become slightly worn out by cliche-ridden POV narratives with sombre voiceovers taking out everything the films could have offered instead.

Worth it?

A few narrative slip-ups and unnecessary deviances from actual occurrences aside, Everest most definitely warrants a big-screen exercise. Baltasar Kormákur, as successful he is at creating consistently entertaining narratives out of heavily formulaic storylines, proves to the audience that he’s as adept at handling visually vast, cinematically ambitious landscapes such as the movie in question. Beaufoy and Nicholson’s screenplay is given a respectable treatment and execution by Kormákur, who puts together a wildly talented ensemble cast and crew to bring a seemingly slippery slope as this to life. And to some, it has the potential to stay on even a day after the film has been witnessed.

Definitely recommended, especially on an IMAX screen, should it be a possibility.

Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us

Cast Jason Clarke
Jake Gyllenhaal
Josh Brolin
Director Baltasar Kormákur
Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!

What to Expect

The inevitable

The inevitable

Of late, I’ve taken an unusually keen interest in the Hollywood directorial stint of Icelandic actor-producer-director Baltasar Kormákur.

And that’s not because of his small-scale (collaborative) American debut with the ’05 drama A Little Trip to Heaven; no. In fact, it is primarily the release of Mark Wahlberg starrer Contraband (interestingly, a remake of the Icelandic action-thriller Reykjavík-Rotterdam, which he starred in) which perked my interest in the director up to no end. Now, let’s be fair; the movie isn’t an instant classic, and wades itself through a large stratosphere of clichés and mainstream narrative trademarks. In short, it was supposed to be the least impressive thing for me to have observed.

And superficially, it could have been.

However, the pace, and the inevitable, rather interesting narrative turns did allow me to be relatively better involved; interested even, to watch the film’s proceedings unfold. And that’s the thing about directors for me; if they’re perfectly capable of executing and putting together an interestingly woven narrative embellished with just the right amount of cinematic punch – that, from only the most deadbeat, cliché-ridden screenplay they could get – one can definitely imagine what’s creatively in store for them (and us, as an audience to their effort) if they have within the palms of their hands an ambitious project.

And for Kormákur, Everest certainly seems to show within himself a possible glimmer of ambition. You’ve got him collaborating with commendable writers William Nicholson (Les Miserables) and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours). Add to that the stellar cast consisting of Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Emily Watson (Punch-Drunk Love), Keira Knightley (Begin Again) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) among others, and laymen possibly unaware of the director have their expectations perfectly set. But I guess the cast wasn’t particularly ever the problem with the director now, was it?

What’s really left now is for him to prove himself to the crowds. Because more than anything else, this most definitely looks like a cinematic upgrade from his last theatrical release 2 Guns. And that’s where the pressure builds up, mostly because films centered around natural disasters do tend to slip more toward a gratuitously formulaic writing style than anything else. Having been based on the ’96 Mount Everest disaster that caught many a summit unaware, however, this definitely has a one-up over a whole lot of other fictional, almost gimmicky counterparts. Expectations, thus, for this film, are at a justifiable high-point there’s no looking back from.

Scary for the makers? Hell yeah. Successful? Well, that’s what is to be seen to know. And that’s where I come in.

What’s it About?

Two expeditions. Several climbers. And one looming disaster.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The struggle

The struggle

One of the biggest qualms of potential viewers would probably be their skeptic sides reconsidering if they’d want to watch a film “based on a true story” where they all know the inevitable end. In a situation like this, all a layperson needs from a film is to grip them, envelop them and transport them to the world they’re present in the cinemas to see the fictionalized account of. And most films fall prey to a certain kind of to-do list that I’ve already brushed upon before.

Well, Everest is quite the different film in that respect, for many a reason.

For starters, the process of character building of our primary protagonist Rob Hall – his loved ones, his surroundings et al – occurs simultaneously with the progress of the film’s story structure, which satisfyingly gets to business as soon as the film begins with its first shot. A brief set of slides allow us to get to the same wavelength as the film – an oft-repeated trick within biographical, historically-aligned and real life accounts, but as the film reaches its first twenty minutes, you may realize you didn’t mind the piece of (admittedly expository) info you got then as you would usually.

An arguable frustration within viewers of this film would probably be the lack of focus on a singular character; but then again, this is not a character-driven, but a story-driven film. While the characters and their motives are pretty clear, you’re not allowed to have a whole lot of time investing in their emotional dynamics. Now, it could be a bad thing, but it isn’t, really. It does, on the contrary, allow us to get a wider perspective on the inevitable disaster that took place within the bracket of time covered in the film. There are many people doing many different things, and while it’s easy enough to keep track, what overwhelms you as a viewer is not the amount of characters, but the metaphorical enemy that is the maniacal storm that covers the Everest and (slightly less so) its surrounding areas, and what it can do.

While the narrative definitely makes way for a few historical inaccuracies (most of which, if stated, may spoil it for those who have little to no idea about the story behind the story), the film stands strong despite them all, mostly due to its progressively tense narrative that – even for those who have a knowledge of the juncture this thread ended in – allows you to be invested with an oftentimes nail-biting madness. There’s a certain horror laced within the impacts the narrative tends to hit upon, and most of this spruced up emotion translates brilliantly. Add to that the fact that many of the processes, human or otherwise, of climbing up and making their way down, are quite accurate (no, not like Cliffhanger. Cliffhanger was not accurate. Sorry guys).

And one of the primary reasons it does is it’s visual vastness, allowing us – the audience – to accurately respond to the emotional buttons the movie’s trying to press within us. Cinematographer Salvatore Totino (The Da Vinci Code) gives the film some splendid landscape shots, allowing the viewers to absorb what’s about to come. Every impact shot is placed on a wider angle, which gives us a more metaphorically silent blow; one where you’re still reeling many moments after, trying to process what just happened. Editor Mick Audsley’s edit decisions tilt largely towards a consistently linear narrative. What he does here, however, is to allow parallel storylines to flow on a balanced plane when the time requires it. Every shot describes the trials and tribulations of the climbers, but we’re thankfully not allowed to see an overexcited editor (or director guiding him, by) speeding things up by reducing shot handles. Instead, each shot is calm, composed and calculated, and knit together, you’re allowed to suck in the complete experience. The film is additionally filled with strong visual-effects compositing that blends in beautifully; you’re almost never sure if you could point out between composited and wholly practical finals. The film’s sound design lends splendid support, and Dario Marianelli’s score only goes to enhance it, appearing only when needed.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The ambition

The ambition

Boasting of a terrific cast, the film deliberately refrains from focussing obsessively on a particular character as much as is possible. What you’re seeing on a relatively regular basis throughout most of the film, however, is Jason Clarke. Taking on the role of Rob Hall of Adventure Consultants, Clarke looks and feels largely like the human being we’d all want to admire. There’s a beautiful blend of confidence, vulnerability and restraing that he shows within himself, and the people around him, and he truly excels at knocking your doors and asking you to believe in his earnestness. Bringing in some enjoyable banter within the first half of the film is Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw), whose conversations with Clarke are wildly entertaining, and balance Clarke’s oft-overwhelming genuineness with Gyllenhaal’s cocky confidence. His portrayal of Scott Fischer is an enjoyable one with dollops of confidence. His first half may be pretty uneventful for his standards, but it is in the second half of the film where he excels in portraying some very uncomfortable emotion. Coming close on tracks are Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice) and John Hawkes (Life of Crime), both of whom I personally admire a whole lot for what they’re able to give to their films. There’s a certain emotional attachment we come to have for them progressively, and their portrayal of these humans is spot on. Keira Knightley has a short, almost inconsequential, role. But there’s a lot of raw emotion she’s able to handle beautifully through her character’s total runtime. Robin Wright is decent, but doesn’t do much. Sam Worthington may not have much to do within the film’s first half, but is an able presence by the time it’s over. Emily Watson is brilliant. She may not have one of the more prominent characters to portray, but she displays an assortment of performative dynamics within the time she’s on screen, and it shows. There’s the strength, the vulnerability and the emotional overwhelmingness and each of them – of the many – has an accurate and called-for reason to be around. An interesting on-screen surprise here would be Elizabeth Debicki, who plays the medical help to Clarke’s expedition team. She, in stark contrast to her drawling, sinister image in The Man from U. N. C. L. E., gives out a contrastingly low-key performance here, and is almost unrecognizable to the layperson. And then there’s Michael Kelly (the douche dad in Chronicle) who plays the one that began to voice out his side of the whole story – Jon Krakauer. Now, while he plays an important piece in the real-life puzzle, he’s not focussed much on at all. Which is a relief, because seeing as it is, I’ve become slightly worn out by cliche-ridden POV narratives with sombre voiceovers taking out everything the films could have offered instead.

Worth it?

A few narrative slip-ups and unnecessary deviances from actual occurrences aside, Everest most definitely warrants a big-screen exercise. Baltasar Kormákur, as successful he is at creating consistently entertaining narratives out of heavily formulaic storylines, proves to the audience that he’s as adept at handling visually vast, cinematically ambitious landscapes such as the movie in question. Beaufoy and Nicholson’s screenplay is given a respectable treatment and execution by Kormákur, who puts together a wildly talented ensemble cast and crew to bring a seemingly slippery slope as this to life. And to some, it has the potential to stay on even a day after the film has been witnessed.

Definitely recommended, especially on an IMAX screen, should it be a possibility.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

We’re viral

Like usFollow us
Cast Jason Clarke
Jake Gyllenhaal
Josh Brolin
Director Baltasar Kormákur
Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!

What to Expect

Of late, I’ve taken an unusually keen interest in the Hollywood directorial stint of Icelandic actor-producer-director Baltasar Kormákur.

And that’s not because of his small-scale (collaborative) American debut with the ’05 drama A Little Trip to Heaven; no. In fact, it is primarily the release of Mark Wahlberg starrer Contraband (interestingly, a remake of the Icelandic action-thriller Reykjavík-Rotterdam, which he starred in) which perked my interest in the director up to no end. Now, let’s be fair; the movie isn’t an instant classic, and wades itself through a large stratosphere of clichés and mainstream narrative trademarks. In short, it was supposed to be the least impressive thing for me to have observed.

And superficially, it could have been.

However, the pace, and the inevitable, rather interesting narrative turns did allow me to be relatively better involved; interested even, to watch the film’s proceedings unfold. And that’s the thing about directors for me; if they’re perfectly capable of executing and putting together an interestingly woven narrative embellished with just the right amount of cinematic punch – that, from only the most deadbeat, cliché-ridden screenplay they could get – one can definitely imagine what’s creatively in store for them (and us, as an audience to their effort) if they have within the palms of their hands an ambitious project.

And for Kormákur, Everest certainly seems to show within himself a possible glimmer of ambition. You’ve got him collaborating with commendable writers William Nicholson (Les Miserables) and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours). Add to that the stellar cast consisting of Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Emily Watson (Punch-Drunk Love), Keira Knightley (Begin Again) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) among others, and laymen possibly unaware of the director have their expectations perfectly set. But I guess the cast wasn’t particularly ever the problem with the director now, was it?

What’s really left now is for him to prove himself to the crowds. Because more than anything else, this most definitely looks like a cinematic upgrade from his last theatrical release 2 Guns. And that’s where the pressure builds up, mostly because films centered around natural disasters do tend to slip more toward a gratuitously formulaic writing style than anything else. Having been based on the ’96 Mount Everest disaster that caught many a summit unaware, however, this definitely has a one-up over a whole lot of other fictional, almost gimmicky counterparts. Expectations, thus, for this film, are at a justifiable high-point there’s no looking back from.

Scary for the makers? Hell yeah. Successful? Well, that’s what is to be seen to know. And that’s where I come in.

What’s it About?

Two expeditions. Several climbers. And one looming disaster.

The Struggle

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

One of the biggest qualms of potential viewers would probably be their skeptic sides reconsidering if they’d want to watch a film “based on a true story” where they all know the inevitable end. In a situation like this, all a layperson needs from a film is to grip them, envelop them and transport them to the world they’re present in the cinemas to see the fictionalized account of. And most films fall prey to a certain kind of to-do list that I’ve already brushed upon before.

Well, Everest is quite the different film in that respect, for many a reason.

For starters, the process of character building of our primary protagonist Rob Hall – his loved ones, his surroundings et al – occurs simultaneously with the progress of the film’s story structure, which satisfyingly gets to business as soon as the film begins with its first shot. A brief set of slides allow us to get to the same wavelength as the film – an oft-repeated trick within biographical, historically-aligned and real life accounts, but as the film reaches its first twenty minutes, you may realize you didn’t mind the piece of (admittedly expository) info you got then as you would usually.

An arguable frustration within viewers of this film would probably be the lack of focus on a singular character; but then again, this is not a character-driven, but a story-driven film. While the characters and their motives are pretty clear, you’re not allowed to have a whole lot of time investing in their emotional dynamics. Now, it could be a bad thing, but it isn’t, really. It does, on the contrary, allow us to get a wider perspective on the inevitable disaster that took place within the bracket of time covered in the film. There are many people doing many different things, and while it’s easy enough to keep track, what overwhelms you as a viewer is not the amount of characters, but the metaphorical enemy that is the maniacal storm that covers the Everest and (slightly less so) its surrounding areas, and what it can do.

While the narrative definitely makes way for a few historical inaccuracies (most of which, if stated, may spoil it for those who have little to no idea about the story behind the story), the film stands strong despite them all, mostly due to its progressively tense narrative that – even for those who have a knowledge of the juncture this thread ended in – allows you to be invested with an oftentimes nail-biting madness. There’s a certain horror laced within the impacts the narrative tends to hit upon, and most of this spruced up emotion translates brilliantly. Add to that the fact that many of the processes, human or otherwise, of climbing up and making their way down, are quite accurate (no, not like Cliffhanger. Cliffhanger was not accurate. Sorry guys).

And one of the primary reasons it does is it’s visual vastness, allowing us – the audience – to accurately respond to the emotional buttons the movie’s trying to press within us. Cinematographer Salvatore Totino (The Da Vinci Code) gives the film some splendid landscape shots, allowing the viewers to absorb what’s about to come. Every impact shot is placed on a wider angle, which gives us a more metaphorically silent blow; one where you’re still reeling many moments after, trying to process what just happened. Editor Mick Audsley’s edit decisions tilt largely towards a consistently linear narrative. What he does here, however, is to allow parallel storylines to flow on a balanced plane when the time requires it. Every shot describes the trials and tribulations of the climbers, but we’re thankfully not allowed to see an overexcited editor (or director guiding him, by) speeding things up by reducing shot handles. Instead, each shot is calm, composed and calculated, and knit together, you’re allowed to suck in the complete experience. The film is additionally filled with strong visual-effects compositing that blends in beautifully; you’re almost never sure if you could point out between composited and wholly practical finals. The film’s sound design lends splendid support, and Dario Marianelli’s score only goes to enhance it, appearing only when needed.

The ambition

To Perform or Not to Perform

Boasting of a terrific cast, the film deliberately refrains from focussing obsessively on a particular character as much as is possible. What you’re seeing on a relatively regular basis throughout most of the film, however, is Jason Clarke. Taking on the role of Rob Hall of Adventure Consultants, Clarke looks and feels largely like the human being we’d all want to admire. There’s a beautiful blend of confidence, vulnerability and restraing that he shows within himself, and the people around him, and he truly excels at knocking your doors and asking you to believe in his earnestness. Bringing in some enjoyable banter within the first half of the film is Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw), whose conversations with Clarke are wildly entertaining, and balance Clarke’s oft-overwhelming genuineness with Gyllenhaal’s cocky confidence. His portrayal of Scott Fischer is an enjoyable one with dollops of confidence. His first half may be pretty uneventful for his standards, but it is in the second half of the film where he excels in portraying some very uncomfortable emotion. Coming close on tracks are Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice) and John Hawkes (Life of Crime), both of whom I personally admire a whole lot for what they’re able to give to their films. There’s a certain emotional attachment we come to have for them progressively, and their portrayal of these humans is spot on. Keira Knightley has a short, almost inconsequential, role. But there’s a lot of raw emotion she’s able to handle beautifully through her character’s total runtime. Robin Wright is decent, but doesn’t do much. Sam Worthington may not have much to do within the film’s first half, but is an able presence by the time it’s over. Emily Watson is brilliant. She may not have one of the more prominent characters to portray, but she displays an assortment of performative dynamics within the time she’s on screen, and it shows. There’s the strength, the vulnerability and the emotional overwhelmingness and each of them – of the many – has an accurate and called-for reason to be around. An interesting on-screen surprise here would be Elizabeth Debicki, who plays the medical help to Clarke’s expedition team. She, in stark contrast to her drawling, sinister image in The Man from U. N. C. L. E., gives out a contrastingly low-key performance here, and is almost unrecognizable to the layperson. And then there’s Michael Kelly (the douche dad in Chronicle) who plays the one that began to voice out his side of the whole story – Jon Krakauer. Now, while he plays an important piece in the real-life puzzle, he’s not focussed much on at all. Which is a relief, because seeing as it is, I’ve become slightly worn out by cliche-ridden POV narratives with sombre voiceovers taking out everything the films could have offered instead.

Worth it?

A few narrative slip-ups and unnecessary deviances from actual occurrences aside, Everest most definitely warrants a big-screen exercise. Baltasar Kormákur, as successful he is at creating consistently entertaining narratives out of heavily formulaic storylines, proves to the audience that he’s as adept at handling visually vast, cinematically ambitious landscapes such as the movie in question. Beaufoy and Nicholson’s screenplay is given a respectable treatment and execution by Kormákur, who puts together a wildly talented ensemble cast and crew to bring a seemingly slippery slope as this to life. And to some, it has the potential to stay on even a day after the film has been witnessed.

Definitely recommended, especially on an IMAX screen, should it be a possibility.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

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Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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