Review by Jonathan Godfrey for Mr. Will Wong
Whether hill or mountain, it is within us to climb. To reach beyond that which we currently grasp. This is the premise behind Icelandic Director Baltasar Kormákur’s latest film, Everest. As its name suggests it is also about Mount Everest, what the Nepalese refer to as, “the forehead of the sky.” People began to strive for its summit in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until the 50s that anyone reached it. By the 90s professionally operated expeditions were underway, like Rob Hall’s “Adventure Consultants.”
Jason Clarke plays Hall, and Kiera Knightley plays his wife, Jan. Jan summited Everest with Rob in 1993. However, in 1996, when the Movie takes place, we see her pregnant. And so she wishes Rob good luck on his latest attempt to scale the insurmountable. Rob, his clients and Sherpas reach Base Camp alongside several others. Scott Fischer, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, greets Rob and company 5000m up the mountain. There we see that Rob’s efforts to become a professional guide have quickly led to the commercialization of climbing.
Rob’s client Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) is frustrated at the traffic. Whereas Doug Hansen (John Hawkes) is humbled to be in the company. Touching the tip of Everest is no easy task, many have died in the effort, and their bodies remain to remind others of the cost. A cost that Rob hopes none of them will have to pay. And so the best preparations are made, and the cameras capture it all as well as the world around them. Take into account that much of this movie is filmed on Everest herself. A feat followed shortly after 16 souls were laid to rest there. Warren Miller’s protégé Kent Harvey took a team up Everest to capture a bevy of establishing shots. Rendered three-dimensionally, the Film is beyond breathtaking. Those with an eye for the picturesque are bound to gasp time and again as it plays out before them. A Film based on a true story. One that poetically captures the human drama. So well in fact that it’s certainly amongst the year’s best.
Jason Clarke is at his best… yet again. His qualities as a leading man are proven here among leading men. Brolin is brilliant, and so is Hawkes. Gyllenhaal as well, as he’s always a pleasure to watch. Robin Wright even gets a moment to shine, and Kiera Knightley shows how to deliver a tender moment. After all, she’s delivering a terrific script, backed by a beautiful setting. It’s what IMAX 3D was made for! In other words: drama on an epic scale. One that should not be missed. One that must be reverenced. The Tibet call the mountain “Earth Mother,” and being so she is not ours to tame. She is ours to honor and admire. This movie provides us with a moment to do so.
Universal Pictures Canada release EVEREST Friday, September 18, 2015.