Everest is a realistic mountain climbing cautionary tale, but its workmanlike focus robs it from distinguishable characters that could have added some dramatic heft to a true to life story.

Inspired by the incredible events surrounding a treacherous attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest of elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival.

In lieu of exaggerated feats and sentimental noble call for extreme outdoor adventures, Everest keeps it real.

The movie is told from the climber’s point of view so the movie has a workmanlike approach to re-telling the true story of the 1996 Everest disaster. It shows the logistics of mountain climbing from the departure in the Airport to the torturous climb at the summit. Ample time is given to important details from the small to the absolute essentials. You’ll feel like a participant as the plot goes through the stages of climbing from securing permits to acclimatizing exercises that are already dangerous by itself. The mountainous effort needed to make the climb is engaging.

The cinematography makes the struggle of the climbers relatable through imposing images of Everest and helps the audience follow their progress through visuals. Even if they throw a lot of jargon, you’ll know what’s going on. The sound editing is superb – you can hear the sound of boots against the snow and howls of the wind as clear as the conversations and heavy breathing of the characters.

The cast does a good job at instilling some personality to their characters even if they don’t have much to work with. The movie is more focused on their struggles rather than fleshing them out.

It’s clear that Everest is not a sentimental tribute but the lack of distinguishable characters becomes a problem as the story gears up for the climax. It’s clear that climbing Everest is frickin’ hard, but why should we care about these people more than the Sherpas who risk their lives every day and get no credit? why should we pay attention to this one disaster when statistics say that 1996 was statistically a safer-than-average year?

The supporting characters back at home do provide some emotional aspect to the film but there’s not much dramatic heft when their husbands are unremarkable from the rest of the climbers.

Still, as the movie ends and the harsh truth that we’ve already seen coming since the start of beginning is shown, Everest is a compelling movie that achieves its purpose with blunt honesty.

It is not about the glory of making it to the top nor the courage of its climbers. The cautionary tale is about survival and the inconsequential existence of man in the natural world. Everest reminds us that nature is never something to be conquered. It should be feared and respected.

My Rating: 7/10

Commentary:

For those who want the other side of the story Sherpa is a good documentary.

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