365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


Everest (2015)

I know I am in a major minority when I give my review of this movie and I know there will be many who wonder what I'm talking about. But...this movie absolutely sucked. I realize that many have never seen a mountain climbing movie or, worse, have only the likes of Vertical Limit to compare it too. But before I get to far into my review of Everest, let me mention a few mountain climbing movies that I would watch a dozen times again before forcing myself to watch Everest. The most notable one to me is a recent one that most people have never heard of. It's the 2008 (or 2010 depending on who you ask) German released North Face (Nordwand). It takes a few minutes to get past the subtitles, but it's worth it. This movie is absolute horrifying in its detail of its climbers experiencing some of the most brutal physical elements in nature. There is also Touching the Void. There is also K2. Heck, I think I'd even put Cliffhanger up there as a more entertaining movie. And while it's not about reaching any sort of summit, the absolute best climbing-based movie is the fantastic 127 Hours, one of the best two hours you can experience with a film (side note...watch the director's cut). But as far as Everest goes, man did I have extraordinarily high hopes for this film. And it disappointed on just about every level.

I could dig into all of the problems I had with this film. I will do that shortly. The only real positive was Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Lawless). It was good seeing him in a believable role where he played a true good guy. His portrayal as the warmhearted, rationale founder of Adventure Consultants, a company that charges $65,000 a head to get its clients from the base of Everest to the summit. The New Zealand mountaineer help bring the idea of turning Everest into an adult fantasy camp for the rich. It's the hardest climb in the world and, in 1996 - the year when this film takes place, only a small number of people had successfully reached the apex. There is only about a two week window each year when climbers realistically have a chance of completing the trip before conditions force them to turn around. And with each year there are more and more companies with more and more clients promising customers a complete and safe voyage. And as Rob Hall (Clarke) points out, there are too many groups and people for the mountain to handle at once. There is literally too much human traffic. But he seems to be the only voice of reason. He's completed the voyage before whereas just about everyone else has not. They are blinded by the opportunity to accomplish something most people can only dream of and there will be no denying them. In addition to his loving wife Jan (Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game, Pride and Prejudice), he has the complete support of his team.

One of those dreaming of reaching the summit is Texan pathologist Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin- W, Milk), a man pushing 50 who is determined to make it to the top. Beck, who proudly states that he is 100% Texan, talks a big game and comes across as not macho tough guy, but a guy beaming with confidence. However, there's an underlining layer with him that dates back to his college days when he dealt with some depression issues. Climbing had always been an escape. So Beck appears to have a hard outer-shell while at the same time using the sport to protect himself from the darker days of his life. Like most of the characters in the film, it was hard to get a true read on him. Character development was not a strong suit of this film. On top of that, it was difficult to distinguish the characters from one another when they were all dressed in their gear. Finally, in this regard, there were too many characters we were forced to follow. The mountain definitely felt like the lead character in this movie and the humans felt secondary. Which brings me back to Brolin's character. Once the real climb began, I couldn't get a read on his importance verses the others. There was way to much back and forth between the different groups during the climb. I was losing my interest in the film before this, but this was when I really started to feel lost and really started to lose interest. At that point, I did all I could to avoid looking at my phone every five minutes to figure out when this "action-packed drama" would come to a close.

Finally there was Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw, Nightcrawler) who is a lead climber for a rival company of Rob's. Scott and Rob have a little history together, but generally respect each other especially when you see some of the factions that develop between some of the other companies. Scott is sort of a Mr. Happy Go Lucky type of guy who respects the mountain but shows no fear when in the presence of others. He's a likable enough guy, but I'm not sure why it's Gyllenhaal in this role. It literally could have been anybody. He's acting was serviceable, but I really felt like his character got as many scenes as he did because of the actor playing him. John was a minor character made into a more important one because of Gyllenhaal. That's no fault of Jake...if I were directing the movie, I would have gotten him as much screen time as possible as well. But it just doesn't work here. There are already too many characters and I really think this is the one who could have been dropped.

Absolutely wasted in this movie was Knightley. She had three or four scenes...all away from the action. Seriously, Keira, why are you in this movie? The same can be said for Robin Wright (Rampart, Moneyball) who, like Knightley, played a wife of one of the climbers and who, like Knightley, was regulated to scenes with a telephone in her hands. As for Gyllenhaal, he's beyond being a side character in a moneymaking adventure movie at this point in his career. Yes, it's a different role than what he has been portraying recently. But his character was so underdeveloped and underutilized that there probably wasn't a need to include his character at all. I think he added to the confusion more than anything else. Gyllenhaal is at the point of his career where he can be a bit more selective. He's got many more Academy Award nominations ahead of him in his career, but those opportunities will become more and more limited if he keeps spending his time in roles like this.

The trailers make this movie look great and I honestly believed this was going to be a masterpiece. Perhaps I was expecting too much from Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns, Contraband). This movie needed a more accomplished director. I do think in the right hands, I would have liked this movie a lot more. While I wasn't a huge fan of this particular story, I do like a good adventure movie and this one certainly had a backdrop that peeked my interest. The budget was there. The cast was there. At times, you're dazed by the star power this film brings and maybe this is a movie where you don't need more than one star. While Clarke isn't quite a household name yet, he may have been enough. Perhaps not. Perhaps it was the stars that drew people to this movie. I don't know. I just felt that they weren't needed. Everest was about as forgettable as any I've seen in 2015 because of how unattached I was to the characters and how motionless I felt the story to be.

I would encourage you to skip this movie and see North Face (Nordwand) instead. I realize I am probably in the minority in my feelings of Everest, but this movie should have been much better in just about every regard.

Plot 7/10
Character Development 6/10
Character Chemistry 6/10
Acting 6/10
Screenplay 7/10
Directing  6/10
Cinematography 10/10
Sound 7/10
Hook and Reel 6/10 (beginning was could...but I quickly tuned out...and then couldn't wait to get out of there)
Universal Relevance 8/10 (movies based on true stories usually get the benefit of the doubt)

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