Needless to say, Everest isn’t exactly a lighthearted adventure flick but in spite of that, and some so-so writing, the performances from the ensemble cast, Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin especially, makes it worthwhile, though for myself, I’m not sure if I’d ever revisit it. The Blu-ray released by Universal offers excellent video and audio transfers and a fine selection of bonus material.
The Movie | Special Features | Video Quality | Audio Quality | Overall
Genre(s): Adventure, Drama
Universal | PG13 – 121 min. – $49.98 | January 19, 2016
Date Published: 01/08/2016 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Note: This review contains plot spoilers.
Going in, I knew Everest was based on a true story and also that this wasn’t exactly light viewing either and indeed, it is damn near an emotionally-draining flick. Even so, it’s not entirely perfect and it does suffer with having so many characters, some of the supporting players indiscernible from the next, despite the best efforts of the filmmakers casting well known actors.
The story is set in 1996. There are several commercial companies vying for a trip to the top of Mount Everest. Adventure Consultants is led by Rob Hall (JASON CLARKE) who, along with base camp manager Helen Wilton (EMILY WATSON), has a set of clients he’s taking to the peak: experienced climber and brash Texan Beck Weathers (JOSH BROLIN); mailman Doug Hansen (JOHN HAWKES) there to fulfill a dream; Yasuko Namba (NAOKO MORI) attempting to complete the final of the Seven Summits; and photojournalist Jon Krakauer (MICHAEL KELLY). Leading another expedition crew, Mountain Madness, is Scott Fischer (JAKE GYLLENHAAL). Also we meet a man named Guy (SAM WORTHINGTON) who is leading his own crew on the south side of Everest, which is a far safer journey.
With so many wanting to ascend, Rob and Scott, along with another expedition whose characters are interchangeable so I couldn’t tell you their names, join forces so each may make the climb safely as there are many elements to consider including the rope guides, which come into play as a guide was not tied off delaying the climb by a couple hours and thus making things more dangerous as the climbers need to be back in camp before nightfall.
The film also gives us some glimpses of the home life for Rob with his pregnant wife Jan (KEIRA KNIGHTLEY) and Beck’s wife (ROBIN WRIGHT) and two kids, whose marriage is on the rocks to the point where he took the expedition without telling her… At any rate, worst cases scenarios occur including an impending and vicious storm that sweeps through the mountain leaving some stranded and others in rough shape. The remainder of the film, probably a fair 40-50 minutes, is a fight for survival from these characters leading to some genuinely emotional scenes.
The highlight for Everest is certainly not with the writing as that might be the weaker link nor the direction which was good especially re-creating the mountain with a combo of visual effects, on-location filming and soundstage buildings, but instead with some solid performances from an ensemble cast. Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin especially stood out with more than a few wonderful, oft heartbreaking, scenes. Keira Knightley also does well with a relatively limited role and playing a thankless yet still important character.
One other thing that stood out was with the score by Dario Marianelli who provides haunting and sorrowful music akin to his work on Atonement which itself really impressed. Here, I loved that it never goes overboard and to the credit of director Baltasar Kormákur, he keeps certain scenes more low key (such as the deaths of some of the characters).
Speaking of Kormákur, the filmmaker on the rise from Iceland who previously helmed 2 Guns and Contraband, does a fair job though when it was difficult to discern some of the characters, even when wearing various colors of jackets, it does make things harder to follow who is where, outside of Clarke and Brolin at least.
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb in saying Everest isn’t exactly an uplifting movie and although it’s hardly perfect, far from it, I think it is well worth one viewing as there are some elements to admire between the acting, visual effects and a compelling story.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
This release comes with a semi-glossy, title embossed, slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Audio Commentary – Director Baltasar Kormákur sits down for a nice and in-depth track talking about filming in Nepal, working with the crew and other tid-bits. It’s not exactly the most energetic track given he is solo but it’s not bad.
Race to the Summit: The Making of Everest (10:59; HD) is a behind-the-scenes featurette with on-location interviews with members of the cast and crew talking about the logistics of filming in Nepal, and particularly on Everest, the real-life story and the people who died.
Learning to Climb (4:42; HD) follows the cast as they learn the technicalities of how to climb with altitude simulation and using the gear.
A Mountain of Work (5:13; HD) looks at the sound stage and re-creating the top 3,000 ft of Everest.
Aspiring to Authenticity: The Real Story (6:47; HD) – This breaks down the true story and those who perished and their loved ones including Rob Hall’s widow, Rob’s Daughter, Helen Wilton and Beck Weathers as they share their personal stories.
2D VIDEO – 3.5/5 | 3D VIDEO – 5.0/5
|Everest climbs onto Blu-ray presented in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio (MPEG-4 AVC codec) and it does not disappoint. Detail is incredible throughout and although colors tend to be washed out due to the cold conditions, there is some nice pop here and there. The transfer itself is clean, free of any blemishes.
The 3D transfer fairs about the same. The technology is utilize rather well here with great depth perception in many scenes, such as when Beck (Josh Brolin’s character) nimbly walks across the makeshift bridge. There are also many sweeping shots of Everest and you get some nice texture in those as well. Because it is 3D, colors generally don’t come out really well but here those little pops come off the screen satisfactorily.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
|The movie comes with a robust and intense Dolby Atmos which decodes to TrueHD 7.1 for older systems and it doesn’t disappoint. Dialogue levels are excellent but more importantly, the action-centric sequences make fantastic use of every channel. However, there’s more to the track as you can hear the cracking of ice and falling snow in the quieter moments as well making for one amazing lossless track and right up there with the other Atmos releases.
French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and English, French and Spanish subtitles also available.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
|Overall, needless to say, Everest isn’t exactly a lighthearted adventure flick but in spite of that, and some so-so writing, the performances from the ensemble cast, Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin especially, makes it worthwhile, though for myself, I’m not sure if I’d ever revisit it. The Blu-ray released by Universal offers excellent video and audio transfers and a fine selection of bonus material.|
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.
A great movie