Cert: 12A / 121 mins / Dir. Baltasar Kormákur / Trailer
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…
If you like that sort of thing?
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.
No, although in Sam Worthington's case that'd be an odd case to try and argue.
…probably? I have no idea
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?.
The film features a simpering performance from Queen Amidala's favourite handmaiden, bodyguard and decoy, Keira 'Sabé' Knightley.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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