Everest is a well-crafted, beautifully shot, and moderately directed and written film that does a good job at telling its true story, but occasionally falters in its storytelling techniques, specifically pacing. There are many great elements, namely the gorgeous cinematography and immersive IMAX 3D special effects and a very strong lead role for Jason Clarke, and there are rarely true issues with the project, but moments in which the film fails to live up to his potential, despite succeeding in many of its goals.
Based on true story, Everest follows the story of a group of climbers led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) who are determined to lead a team to the peak of the Everest summit. Though Hall’s team is occasionally divided by conflict, including Doug Hansen’s (John Hawkes) deteriorating medical condition and Beck Weathers’s (Josh Brolin) rough family life, as well as Hall’s yearning for his pregnant wife Jan (Keira Knightley), but they’re determined to scale the mountain, despite conflicts with a rival group lead by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal). But when a massive storm hits the mountain range, the teams are pushed to their limits.
Director Baltasar Kormakur creates a beautifully ascetic film with visceral scenery and great special effects that are combined to form a strong visual film. The format of IMAX 3D really benefits the film’s story, and actually improves the tension of the moment, especially once the main storm hits. However, the film does drag in some parts, especially in the final act, and some of the character motivations aren’t as developed as they could’ve been. However, there is a strong dynamic between the cast members, which is evident of the realism of the writing and the strength of the cast.
Jason Clarke gives a strong lead performance, and does a great job combining playing a real character and being a relatable character for the audience. As a group leader and center point for the cast, Clarke does a great job at leading the team. Josh Brolin is also very strong, and his character is well developed and has a complete story arc throughout the film. Despite his talents as an actor, Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t given all that much to do, and while he chews the scenery in his limited presence, he doesn’t have much of an impact on the film. Michael Kelley and John Hawkes are strong in limited, but well performed roles, while Keira Knightley and Robin Wright are given more limited screen time.
As a film, Everest doesn’t really have as many problems as it does potential improvements. The film is successful in telling it’s story and it’s well shot and performed, but there’s a dramatic weight that’s missing in some key moments. It’s very respectable that the film avoids any of the cliches or emotional melodrama that are common in this type of film, but it’s unfortunate that some elements are squandered.
Everest is an effectively created, well acted, and visually stunning film experience that deserves to be seen on the best format. There are certainly flaws, but overall it’s a powerful and immersive film that gives respect to the incredible true story. Grade: B