Thursday, 24 September 2015

Everest (Review)

A movie based on a true story about the 1996 Mount Everest disaster: the catastrophic blizzard that claimed the lives of eight climbers and guides on the world’s mightiest peak in 1996.

The competition at base camp is as high as it's ever been, creating tension and difficulties for all  parties involved. The two main groups are Adventure Consultants, led by Rob, and Mountain Madness, led by the uber competitive Scott. In the craziness of the masses, ropes are left unsecured and ladders wobbly and the confusion that follows, delays and risks lives.

The film starts with Rob leaving his pregnant wife and fellow climber, Jan, at home. Rob and the team fly out to Nepal to meet with their clients, who have each paid £65,000 to get to the summit. It's a mixed bag of people: Doug who has once been close to summitting before and is a mail man in his life; Beck who has 10 years climbing experience and is adamant he will achieve this goal; Yasuko who has climbed 6 of the 7 summits and wants to achieve this greatness - by far the most inspiring person; a journalist; and a guy who has lost a third of his foot due to frostbite climbing in the past.

At the end of the movie, it showed images of the real life people and I am amazed by how similar the actors looked to the original people.

You think the challenge will be climbing the mountain but to me, it would also be a challenge to just reach base camp. As they carry supplies through small villages and climb higher and higher, stopping and monasteries along the way.

All the way through the movie, my mum kept saying why would they want to do that, but the movie doesn't seem to explore their motives too closely. Early on, when the journalist Jon Krakauer asks them why they want to climb Everest, no one seems to know. Or at least not willing to explain. Doug wants to inspire children back home, normal people can achieve their dreams; Beck to say he has done it, but we later learn it's because he feels free; Yasuko  to say she has climbed all 7!

Falling. Altitude causing a lack of oxygen. Pure exhaustion. Avalanches. Frostbite exposure.

All of these potential causes of death are on display in a gut-wrenching second hour that will have you squirming. The first, sets the scene and shows the acclimatisation tasks to get the climbers ready for the challenge they are about to face.

The entire crew and cast crew has done an excellent job in crafting and bringing to life this real-life disaster with an emotional consistency as well. Everest definitely dares you to imagine what it must be like to be at the top of the world with everything around going horribly, horribly wrong. With the fates of the different climbers unsure, Everest is nail-biting tense.

A storm front appears to provide security in their May 10th arrival, but the storm comes early. Rob has to make decisions and as consequences of the disaster becomes clear, tension turns into grim sadness amid frozen corpses. He goes against his original saying: I'm here to get you down alive.

Everest boasts of a handful of spectacular shots that show how small the climbers are against the awe and majesty of Everest. The best shots are when Beck slips while trying to cross a terrifyingly deep chasm over a wobbly ladder or the camps in the middle of seemingly nowhere.

While there are moments where the towering peak is overshadowed by dram, the viewers can forgive them in favour of the compelling experience of ascent and descent to the summit which is heaven for a moment and hell the next.

Thoroughly enjoyable, emotive and incredible moving.