Actors: Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright, Jason Clarke
Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Format: Color, Widescreen, 3D, Blu-ray, Digital_copy
Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby TrueHD), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
Region: All Regions
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 3
DVD Release Date: January 19, 2016
Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2016
As I watched Everest, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had previously watched a documentary about the tragic events depicted in the film. The particular elements and difficulties leading to fatalities all felt familiar, but I think that has more to do with the similarity between separate events, like the ones also depicted in The Summit. This was the film I was thinking of, and though it took place in a different decade and on a different mountain, there are a remarkable number of things that remain the same. This seems to show that no amount of time diminishes the height of some peaks, but it also provides some narrative difficulty.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the repetition of the events or narrative structure of Everest, as this is simply the composition of a genre film, albeit ones which mostly seem to be based on similar true events. Where Everest goes wrong is in the treatment of the individual elements. First of all, we are meant to care for the characters in order for the suspense sequences to hold more gravity. Although Everest spends a great deal of its 2-hour running-time with the characters, there are far too many of them and too little distinguishing them from each other. Even those dominating a majority of the screen time are given a calloused and unsentimental portrayal, and this approach also never demands we mourn heavily for their passing, as they made their own fate when deciding to take on the mountain.
While I do appreciate director Baltasar Kormákur (Contraband, 2 Guns) refraining from overly sentimental emotional manipulation, the film may simply suffer from having too many working parts. The focus of the narrative is on commercial climbing guide Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), who leaves behind his pregnant wife (Keira Knightley) to take a group up the mountain. This is the heart of the film, but makes the mistake of rushing through many of the most effective moments in order to fit in time for supporting characters. The Heart of the Sea had similar issues for me, especially with its shoehorned romance subplot.
These other characters include the clients Hall is taking up the mountain, the loudest and most significant seeming to be Texan Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), though he is joined by unlikely returning climber (John Hawkes), a woman climbing her last of the seven peaks (Naoko Mori), and a journalist (Michael Kelly) stolen away from a competitor guide (Jake Gyllenhaal). Then there is the staff that works for Hall, including the Sherpas and the woman running base camp (Emily Watson). And there are more, including the climbers that Sam Worthington and Justin Salinger play, but I lost track of whether they were clients or employees. And amidst all of these characters, I also lost track of any emotional attachment to Hall, not to mention the supporting cast.
Beyond the actual narrative and the tragedy of events, Everest loses the scope of its own action. Despite being released in 3D (and on the included Blu-ray 3D), Everest never takes much joy in the sheer spectacle of climbing a mountain that high. And even when there are tragedies, we are given a more intimate account of what happened, limited in vision to what the witnesses would have been able to see. There is very little excitement or joy in the actual visuals, giving the narrative the style of a tragic drama rather than the exhibition you might expect from a 3D film about an Everest expedition. Again, I respect this decision from Kormákur, but it is just another reason that Everest is not nearly as captivating as the material provided by the true events deserves.
The Blu-ray 3D combo pack includes a 2D Blu-ray disc, DVD, and a Digital HD copy. Exclusive to the Blu-ray disc are two featurettes, “Learning to Climb: The Actors’ Journey” and “A Mountain of Work: Recreating Everest.” Additional extras included on all discs is a making-of featurette, a featurette about the real story behind the film, and a commentary track with director Baltasar Kormákur.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6/10