Everest ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp
Why do ordinary people risk death and injury, spend lots of money and tolerate untold pain and discomfort for months at a time in some of the harshest weather conditions on earth to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak on earth? Is it because they’re looking for something they’ve missed out on in life, or are they looking to fill some inexplicable empty spot? Whatever the reasons, there are plenty of people who try it and fail. Failure means never making it to the summit or never making it back home alive.
Everest chronicles one such expedition in 1996 to the top of Mount Everest by a group of people who might be our next-door neighbors. There’s the Texan (Josh Brolin) who has a “dark cloud of depression following him around all the time”…except for the time that he’s on a mountain. There’s the New Zealander (Jason Clarke) with the pregnant wife (Keira Knightley) back home; he’s the leader of the expedition and it’s up to him to watch out for the others. There’s the 47-year-old Japanese woman who has been to six of the seven highest peaks on earth; Everest will be her seventh. There’s the divorced loser (John Hawkes) who delivers the mail and is out for the thrill of a lifetime. There’s the nouveau hippy (Jake Guyllenhaal) badly in need of a shave and a haircut who seems to serve no purpose other than to be annoying. Back at the base camp is the “surrogate mother” (Emily Watson) who tries to help the climbers through radio transmissions and who suffers vicariously with them. We know at the outset that some of them will make it and some of them won’t. If all of them had made it back alive, there wouldn’t be a movie being made about them almost twenty years later.
For movie fans there are lots of familiar faces in Everest, but the characters don’t matter. The people are ciphers. It’s like filling the SS Poseidon with the likes of Shelley Winters, Gene Hackman, Roddy McDowell, Stella Stevens, Carol Lynley, Red Buttons and Ernest Borgnine and then turning the ship over in a storm. We know some of the characters will make it and some will not. Figuring out who will and who won’t make it might help you to pass the time during all the dialogue that, no matter how inane it is, you can’t understand it anyway.
Everest is a predictable action-adventure movie with some beautiful scenery and a spectacular storm (I like storms). It’s another one of those man-versus-nature stories where nature wins. No matter how much star power they put on the screen with no matter how many Oscar nominations, the real star is the mountain. Nature wins. Man loses. Now, if the mountain had been Godzilla or an alien from outer space, man would most certainly have come out on top.
Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp