Monday, 7 March 2016

MOVIE MONDAY - EVEREST

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” – Ed Viesturs

We watched Baltasar Kormákur’s 2015 film “Everest” at the weekend. It starred Jason Clarke, Ang Phula Sherpa, Thomas M. Wright, Emily Watson, Emily Watson and Sam Worthington, with a screenplay by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy, based we were told on the outset on “true story”. This is meant to get the viewers into accepting whatever is dished out and be suitably overawed. The film is just over two hours long – or should I say a long two hours?

Humans are strange creatures who will do silly things (despite what their intellect and logic may advise against their foolhardy course of action). One of these silly things is to go and climb tall mountains where the air is too thin to breathe, the temperatures are too cold year-round, and the hazards of avalanches, sudden storms and bottomless crevasses are a constant threat. Besides that, there are the risks of inept other humans around who instead of helping you may hinder your progress and where human error (even by so-called experts) reigns supreme. This film documents all of these things…

In a nutshell, the story centres on climbers from two commercial expeditions start their final ascent toward the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, on the morning of May 10, 1996. What started out as a calm day with good weather conditions ends with a violent storm that strikes the mountain, engulfing the adventurers in one of the fiercest blizzards see in the region. Challenged by these conditions, the teams must endure strong winds, freezing temperatures, human error and towering egos in an attempt to survive. There are many fatalities…

The cinematography is good and one does get to admire the beauty and the terror of nature on the top of the world. One gets to admire it on many, many occasions throughout the film. Too bad there are these idiot humans spoiling the view by doing silly things from start to finish. The script is rather pedestrian and exceedingly predictable. The dialogue hackneyed and trite and the actors go through stock situations, almost assuming “attitudes” in order to act out stock character reactions. And there was lots of snow, and ice and wind and more snow and ice and wind and too little oxygen.

Perhaps I watched this movie with my expectations set too high – you see, I had read and heard all the hype. The characters were mainly unlikeable or neutral and failed to raise any degree of sympathy in me. Hence I did not care a fig if they fell off cliffs, froze to death or quietly went blue due to lack of oxygen. Yes, it was based on a real story, but this is the stuff of documentaries and there have been good documentaries made about these events. The film fails to deliver on many levels.

You’d be better off watching “Everest: The Death Zone” (1998) by David Breashears, Liesl Clark. Better quality all round and it is a documentary, not a movie.

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