Directed by Baltasar Kormakur and starring Jason Clarke, Ang Phula Sherpa, Martin Henderson, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robin Wright. An annual expedition to climb to the top of Mount Everest battles an unexpected storm.
This film is developed in quite an intelligent way, but this intelligence is not seen for the first half an hour into the film by which point as an audience our emotional investment is just beginning to form.
As for myself I had little knowledge about the effort and preparation that went into climbing Everest. This does not mean I am totally ignorant to the premise of climbing the world’s largest mountain, what I mean to say is my lack of knowledge is how exactly how preparation is conducted. What I found most surprising is how people pay ridiculously large amounts of money to hire and be part of a team for a life-threatening climb. This is most staggering with those who have families they are leaving behind when they start the climb.
To begin with the film does a consistent job of introducing us to all the main characters while giving them just enough of a personality or personal goals so that they stand out in our minds and more importantly why they are doing this. Some stereotypes are included, but as this is based on true events it is at times hard to differentiate between those events that indeed happened and those which are there simply manufactured as the function of a big blockbuster.
The actual preparation that each team goes through with the mountain politics is quite interesting if at times odd. This oddness is particularly apparent when they are trying to organise a way of getting everyone up the mountain both successfully and in good time, so no one is left standing and freezing.
The act of getting up the mountain is explored in quite an interesting way as while one imagines the mountain to be the biggest threat, indeed some moments of CGI are quite scary, it is the physical effort that the mountain has on the body. As it is explained, humans are not designed to do these huge physical feats.
The second part of the adventure, going down the mountain, is met with the physical challenges of the mountain. Here the weather is incredibly impressive, not only are we still able to identify who is who but in parts we can see just how incredible and powerful the weather can be. This section of the film is the most powerful and breathtaking to watch, filled with emotional power that leaves you feeling exhausted.
OVERALL **** Although in some respect not the strongest start and a degree of fear is lackluster at the start, by the end I was left an emotional and exhausted mess with good performances all round.
RECOMMENDATION – A fascinating look into the real life events that occurred to a group of climbers facing impossible odds.