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Sugar House Journal

Dan's Review: "Everest" has plenty of drama

Oct 03, 2015 02h23 ● By Dan Metcalf

Jason Clarke in Everest - © 2014 - Universal Pictures

Everest (Universal)

Rated PG-13 for intense peril and disturbing images.

Starring Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, Thomas Wright, Martin Henderson, Elizabeth Debicki, Naoko Mori, Clive Standen, Vanessa Kirby, Tom Goodman-Hill, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, Charlotte Bøving, Micah Hauptman, Chris Reilly, Chike Chan, Vijay Lama, Mark Derwin, Mia Goth.

Written by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy.

Directed by Baltasar Kormákur.



“Because it’s there,” is the response attributed to George Mallory after being asked why he wanted to summit Mount Everest. As one of the most famous people to die on the world’s highest peak, one has to wonder if being “there” is a compelling enough reason to risk one’s life for it. The perils of such ascent attempts provide the backdrop for Everest, the true story of a doomed 1996 expedition.

Jason Clarke stars as Rob Hall a New Zealander and owner of Adventure Consultants, one of the first commercial enterprises that specialized in leading regular folks to the top of Everest. Hall leaves his pregnant wife Jan (Keira Knightley) behind as he leads an expedition to Nepal. Joining Rob are (among others) Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), a Dallas pathologist Doug Hansen (John Hawkes) a divorced mail carrier and John Krakauer (Michael Kelly), the renowned author and journalist who would later pen a successful book about the ordeal. Rob’s team is comprised of base camp director Helen Wilton (Emily Watson), Dr. Caroline Mackenzie (Elizabeth Debicki) along with a few other guides and native sherpas. Besides the harsh elements of the mountain, Rob must also contend with competing tour companies, including one headed by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal).

After a series of mishaps, questionable decisions and bad luck with weather, a crowd of more than fifty hikers converge on Everest, intending to summit the peak on May 10, 1996. The results of their pursuits are devastating, ending in the deaths of several mountaineers.

Everest is a worthy cinematic effort on the part of Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur, who is aided by some spectacular special effects and above-average cast. The film captures the desperation and helplessness of the real-life characters as their tragic drama unfolds on the mountain. Even with these positive aspects Everst’s , script comes across as somewhat bland and pedestrian.

While tackling the drama of the 1996 disaster, Everest never delves into the morality of spending so much money, effort and human sacrifice just so a few wealthy folks can brag about reaching the top of a mountain. I don’t get it, and I suppose I never will understand such drive, especially when there are so many other challenges in the world that could use such dedication.