'Everest' Is a Stunning View of Man vs. the Elements

Movie Review - Jackie K Cooper
"Everest" (Universal Pictures)

Everest is a movie of grandeur and beauty. This is because cinematographer Salvatore Totino made the mountains of Nepal his star and created one breathtaking sweeping shot after another. If ever a movie justifies the large screen, 3-D experience this one does, for this is a visual film from beginning to end. Because of this emphasis on the scenic the depth of the characters' stories are trimmed, but it doesn't matter. You still have a totally visceral experience due to the majesty of the mountain.

The story is based on the true experience of two teams of mountain climbers who head to the top of Mount Everest in the early months of 1996. Leading the teams are Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), two men who have a lot of experience making this climb. The film focuses on the initial meetings with the climbers and continues through the descent from the top of Everest. In between there is a lot of drama and death.

Even though there is not a lot of depth to Clarke's character this is his breakout role. He is the leading man of this movie and you never forget it. He has been circling stardom for some time now and this movie is where he gets that one big break. As his wife Jan, Keira Knightley brings an emotional clout to the story another less talented actress might have squandered.

There is a rich, supporting cast in this film. Robin Wright is a cold, standoffish wife, Josh Brolin is a brash Texas moneyman, Emily Watson is the business person behind the climb, and Michael Kelly is Jon Krakauer, the man who wrote a book about the climb. Gyllenhaal is touted as being one of the stars but his too is mainly a supporting role.

The film raises the question as to why people would attempt such a wild adventure as climbing Everest. They certainly aren't kids off on a fling as they all appear to be over forty. But the answer is never found or shown. The mountain is just there and it is the highest point in the world. And as one character gloomily reflects, "The mountain always gets the last word".

The film is rated PG-13 for violence.

Everest is worth seeing because of the visual beauty and daring camerawork involved. The story itself is a downer and makes the folly of such a trek the idea you remember most. If you do decide to see it make sure you get the 3-D, large screen treatment. It is so involving you leave the theater checking for frostbite.

I scored Everest an icy 7 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper
www.jackiekcooper.com