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Published On: Fri, Sep 18th, 2015

‘Everest’ review: True story told with great acting, intense scenes

Opening September 18, 2015, Everest tells the true story of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster.  On May 10 & 11, 1996, 12 people lost their battles with the mountain while trying to reach the summit; however the film focuses on the story of the group of climbers led by the expedition guiding company Adventure Consultants while still making the audience aware of the other individuals whose experience intertwined with theirs.

As if trying to reach the highest point on Earth is not already challenging enough with the low oxygen levels, freezing cold, and risk of avalanche, this group faced additional unexpected challenges due to the commercialization of Everest.  A number of additional climbers were on the mountain with different guides which led to bottlenecks at the more dangerous single-climber passages.  Unfortunately, these delays put the teams behind schedule and right in the path of terrible blizzards which led to the untimely deaths of two Adventure Consultants guides and two clients (along with 8 others).

Walking out of the theater, I immediately had to look up the disaster on the internet.  I couldn’t just let the film end and walk away without thinking about it anymore.  I can’t imagine anyone will be able to just leave it behind them for a number of reasons.  Hats off to Director Baltasar Kormákur for this excellent work which left me rattled for a couple of days.

Jake Gyllenhaal in "Everest"

Jake Gyllenhaal in “Everest”

The “character” development (hard to say that about non-fictional characters) is excellent.  Not only the all-star cast (Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke, Robin Wright, Sam Worthington, and Michael Kelly), but every actor truly made you feel something.    I found myself desperately hoping that they would either get up and survive or somehow die quickly.  The thought of the slow death caused by hypothermia was just too much to bear.  In that regard, this INTENSE adventure disaster film became a horror movie for me.  Add to that the 3D Imax experience which left me feeling like I was going to slip off the side of the snow-covered mountain myself and you can understand why I was short of breath by the end of the show.

Other major angles that keep bouncing around in my head concern the logistics of this incredible feat, the reality of how the climb is performed, and the understanding of how painful and difficult it is for the climbers to fulfill this goal (physically and financially).

Why would anyone pay $65,000 (1996 value) to cross dangerous, seemingly-bottomless crevices by tying ladders together?

That’s like putting a chair on top of a ladder at the top of a forklift to reach something that’s still out of reach!

It’s the perfect set-up for a Jeff Foxworthy joke.

Finally, the majestic beauty of the aerial shots is absolutely stunning… until it just gets scary.  While the snow looks beautiful glistening in the sun, it’s a different story when you see an avalanche come down and chunks of ice taking people down like bowling pins.

Additionally, if you have issues with motion sickness or heights, you’ll probably want to close your eyes for about a third of the film.

Except for the single-digit age group, everyone should enjoy this movie-going experience.  I wouldn’t say that it will stimulate much conversation, but that’s only because it literally left me speechless.  But you’ll probably be hitting the internet as fast as you can get out the door while contemplating the great feats that we humans set out to do and wondering if the risk is truly worth it.

Everest receives 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!

Guest Author: Debbie Sage

Everest movie poster

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