FilmReview

Review: ’Everest’ is Both Majestic and Terrifying

Ellie Wells ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Jake Gyllenhaal in Everset. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Everest. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

On May 11th, 1996, a blizzard hit Mount Everest, trapping climbers that were attempting to summit and resulted in the deaths of eight people. It was the deadliest day in the history of the mountain until incidents in 2014 and 2015 topped it. Of course, this raised concerns about the growing commercialization of the mountain. Everest takes viewers back to that day by centering around two guided expeditions led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal). Due to the season being crowded with climbers, Fischer and Hall decide to team up to reach the summit. Among the members of the expedition are mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), doctor Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), and Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori).

Also among them is Into the Wild author Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), who has been sent to write an article about the commercialization of the mountain. He would later write about his experiences in Into Thin Air, although the book is not a direct basis for the film.

Jason Clarke in Everest. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
Jason Clarke in Everest. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

If searching for a film that delves deep into why these people would risk it all to reach the world’s highest peak this is not the one. At least not one that paints them clearly and distinctly. There are broad strokes— Hall has a pregnant wife at home, and Hansen, by climbing Everest, wanted to set an example for his children that they could achieve the impossible. Namba was on a quest to climb the Seven Summits, and only had Everest left to conquer. Undercut with scenes that show the mountain’s raw brutality a sense of doom hangs over the optimistic first half.

The cinematography is stunning, and seeing it in IMAX only magnifies the feeling of actually  being on the mountain. Yet, there is not a clear sense of the circumstances that surrounded the incident and even the characters are not distinct individuals. Perhaps that is the point, that nature does not discriminate, but knowing nothing about the tragedy beforehand could make it difficult to follow.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, and Josh Brolin in Everest. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, and Josh Brolin in Everest. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

And yet, creating a character piece is not necessarily the point. It’s 100% man versus nature from beginning to end, a purely visceral experience. And while this my alienate some viewers, the film manages to leave a lasting impact, and the film most certainly inspires the viewer to learn more about the details of the tragedy.

Overall Grade: B

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