Friday 18 September 2015

Review: Everest

World of Blackout Film Review

Everest (3D) Poster

Everest (3D)
Cert: 12A / 121 mins / Dir. Baltasar Kormákur / Trailer
WoB Rating: 3/7

I think we all remember where we were on Friday May 10th, 1996. On the other side of the world, a few brave/determined/foolish souls were desperately trying to make their way to the peak of one of humanity's greatest immovable challenges. Me? I was losing a boot in a White Zombie mosh-pit at Brixton Academy. All I'm saying is, one of those two events has left an indelible mark on my memory and will continue to do so...

It's a cinematic truism that a well-made film will take a subject that the viewer is ambivalent about, and make them care about the characters experiencing it. Anyway, I'm still waiting for that great mountaineering movie.

Featuring far too many characters and far too many ominous "I'll be fine / I don't feel too good" lines, along with their accompanying phlegmy-coughs and sidelong glances, Everest is A True Story™ that was apparently full of awful cliches. As a result of two teams (needlessly) competing to reach the summit and get home before tea/lightning-storm time, there are also far too many appearances of characters you'd assumed had died two scenes earlier because everyone looks basically the same when they're in cold-weather gear with beards and frost, and all-but-two of the characters are sold short due to a lack of screen-time. These on-screen personas are a barely-likeable lot (which is a problem when the film is about them dying), but then again I suppose it takes a special kind of narcissist to believe they're better than one of the world's most treacherous mountains, and a special kind of sociopath to make money from encouraging them. Everest comprises almost entirely of those two types of people.

At no point does the spirit of Ben Kenobi stand over a prone, snow-caked mountaineer commanding them to go to Dagobah. At no point do any of the team uncover a hoard of Nazi gold, awakening the undead guardians that are damned to protect it for eternity. It's 2015, Universal; you're going to have to give me more than 'you can count the number of people who went up on both hands, but the number of people who came down on one; and I don't mean because of the frostbite'. And Ted Moult? Nowhere to be seen.

On the plus side, it turns out that Jason Clarke is actually a much better actor when he's allowed to use his own accent. Although it also turns out that Sam Worthington isn't. And being used in wide, brightly-lit exterior shots, much of the 3D in the first half of the film looks beautiful, although suffers under the night-time, close-quarter photography which follows. And speaking of which, why does the scene where they're at the summit of Everest look for all the world like it was shot on a sound-stage, with its flat, azure-blue sky and oddly-yellow lighting? Surely that's the most important exterior-shot of the whole film?

Everest may indeed be 'based on a true story', the problem is that it's just not a particularly interesting one. The most disquieting thing about it is that the members of the teams who didn't make it back in May 1996 weren't the first ones to die trying, and they weren't/won't be the last; a thought which the film doesn't even take the time to raise. And don't go giving us a 'real-life' photo-montage at the end like you've told an awe-inspiring story of bravery and humanitarianism, rather than a faintly exploitative made-for-TV disaster movie to be shown on Channel 5 at 2pm on a Wednesday...

A caption-card at the film's beginning tells us that of the mountaineers to climb Everest around that time, 1-in-4 died. Ironically, that's also the exact the ratio of audience members who made it to the end of this film. This afternoon's screen held four people at the start of the movie, and one of those left after an hour and a half.

Today's survivors of Everest bonded over an ordeal they're not inclined to repeat…

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
If you like that sort of thing?

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
A rental. You won't need to see this film more than once, whether you're a mountaineer scoffing at all the mistakes or a non-mountaineer squirming slightly at hubristic yet gullible people dying in the cold.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
No, although in Sam Worthington's case that'd be an odd case to try and argue.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
…probably? I have no idea

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
No. There isn't.
I mean, if you won't use a Wilhelm Scream when someone falls actually off a mountain, when the fuck will you?

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
The film features a simpering performance from Queen Amidala's favourite handmaiden, bodyguard and decoy, Keira 'Sabé' Knightley.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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