After climbing a simple mountain, it’s easy to imagine that your suddenly qualified to be a mountaineer and scale the tallest peaks. It’s easy to think that you can buy a good backpack and take the next plane to Nepal to take on the beast that is Mount Everest. But nobody knows what their in for until they take on another mountain. Maybe not Everest, but something smaller that would still be hard.
While one could imagine themselves scaling Everest, once they look at the money and the health risks involved, they then look for a new hobby. It’s not that taking on the mountain is impossible, but only the most experienced should be even trying. Tour groups know though that if people have money, then they are willing to go anywhere whether or not they even have experience. Even with the money, theres no guarantee that you would even make the summit; the physical strain is enough to make anyone cry for their mommy, but the window to scale the peak is so narrow that there have been years in which there were no successful summits to the top. Everest is an enduring story on why better planning is needed when issuing the right to climb the mountain.
In 1996, Rob Hall (played by Jason Clarke) is the leader of Adventure Consultants, a tour group that promises that they will try to get you to the summit of Everest, with little experience needed (though he highly recommends experience). In his tour this year is Texan Beck Weathers (played by Josh Brolin), mailman Doug Hansen (played by John Hawkes) and experienced mountaineer Yasuko Namba who has climbed the six highest mountains of the world. They fly into Nepal, make friends and get the expedition spiel from Rob who warms about the mountain and certainty of death.
The group makes the long hikes to base camp where the meet up with the base camp manager Helen (played by Emily Watson) and competing leader of another group, Scott Fischer (played by Jake Gyllenhaal). The two groups agree to team up to avoid delay so that they can make their planned May tenth ascension. The majority of the group makes it to the top against altitude sickness in the death zone, but hit an unexpected blizzard that strands most of the climbers in the whiteout and frostbite. The goal is no longer for everyone to get down, but for anyone.
Everest is based of the real life 1996 tragedy and the films does not light foot around that. I’d say that this is a two part story; the first being about the climb and the other about the blizzard and the sadness around those that died. I’d say that I really enjoyed the first half more then the second.
The cast here is perfect. They manage to make themselves distinct in a surprise large group of people. I give extra points for Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin who carry a lot of the climb in this story. It’s clear the most the climbing was real as the conditions I’ve witness only make me want to stay away from the mountain. I wouldn’t last more then three days on Everest.
The first half makes for a thrilling adventure, so what happened with the blizzard scenes? It’s not that their thrilling, but the pacing is strange; thirty minutes of wondering through the cold, and then everything is all about the sadness of the tragedy. While it is important to acknowledge the sadness, Everest practically steps into soap opera territory. They really should have cut it down and toned that out better.
I’ll give this three Everest summit flags out of five. The last half is so uneven and long that it could have ruined the picture, but the first half was just so enjoyable that it wasn’t a total loss. Everest is not an easy watch, but if you’re at least curious about the climb, I’d recommend it. Just be ready for a hard second act.