Director: Baltasar Kormákur (101 Reykjavík, Jar City, The Deep, 2 Guns)
Writers: William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy
Producers: Nicky Kentish Barnes, Tim Bevan, Liza Chasin, Eric Fellner, Evan Hayes, Tyler Thompson
Starring: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Jake Gyllenhaal
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 121 min.
What could possibly drive a man or woman to attempt to climb Mount Everest, almost 30,000 feet above ground, the highest mountain on the planet? Risking their lives for this treacherous journey to do something practically impossible, people make the trek every year, despite knowing the likelihood of death, and the grueling conditions that have taken so many who scaled those same heights. Baltasar Kormakur’s epic new film Everest may not get into the nitty gritty of the psychology behind such madness, but it does explore in excruciating detail the most notorious real-life tragedy that has been suffered on top of that great beast. Known simply as the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, competing teams of climbers led by Rob Hall (played by Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) faced the summit on May 10th, 1996, only to be met by a ferocious storm that took the lives of eight people. It was the deadliest day on Mount Everest until 2014, and Kormakur brings it to life in a heart-stopping recreation that chills the bone.
Earlier this year saw the release of the blockbuster extravaganza San Andreas, which played natural disaster for cheesy popcorn thrills. Everest could have gone a similar route, taking this tragedy and amping it up for the cheap seats, as the events offer plenty of opportunity for jaw-dropping sequences depicting the ravaging potential of mother nature to decimate human beings who test her limits. Instead, Kormakur demonstrates his commitment to authenticity, pushing his actors to their physical brink by bringing them to real locations in order to capture these agonizing conditions as realistically as possible. That dedication pays off tremendously, as Everest seamlessly combines the on-location footage with scenes shot in studio, and embellished with CGI, for an experience that is frighteningly in your face, never showing any cracks in where the real environments end and the generated ones begin. It allows for an extremely immersive journey that takes the audience right into the heart of the beast with these climbers, making you shiver in your seat as you feel the chill. Or maybe that shaking is from the pure suspense that the director draws out of one heart-stopping sequence after another once the storm hits.
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