Everest is a 2015 adventure-disaster film based on the true story of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Until 2014, the 1996 disaster was the deadliest day in Mount Everest history. Knowing this, you might be able to guess that this is not the film to watch if you actually plan on climbing Mount Everest one day (good luck – I won't be there). The film centres on Rob Hall, played by Jason Clarke, and Scott Fischer, played by Jake Gyllenhaal who are leading separate expeditions up the mountain, as well as one of the climbers in Hall's expedition, Beck Weathers, played by Josh Brolin.
The director, Baltasar Kormákur builds the movie slowly, a steady increase of tension that mirrors the ascent. Mount Everest is the hero, a constant presence, looked at with awe and trepidation. The cinematography is assisted by the subtle enhancement of 3-D. The wide panning shots of the mountain, paired with the expansive and echoing soundtrack, convey the epic scenery.
Despite the great visuals, the choice was made to focus on the practical aspects of the summit attempt: the practice climbs, the base camp set-up, negotiations with other climbing teams etc. and the movie fails to develop the characters of the climbers within the teams. In a movie aiming for gut-wrenching tragedy, this is a missed opportunity. While the acting can't be faulted, there is no real connection with the characters. The exception may be that of Rob Hall, whom we see interacting with his pregnant wife Jan, convincingly played by Keira Knightley. But even with Hall, there is no mention of his amazing past (he summited The Seven Summits in seven months with his best friend who later died of cerebral oedema) and how he came to create the first paid group Everest expedition company. Similarly, despite being one of the main billed characters, no information is given about Scott Fischer, none at all. This lack of emotional connection to the characters really lets down what is otherwise a harrowing depiction of what it is like to pit human strength against the elemental forces of Earth's highest mountain. While the climbers may have reached lofty heights, the film fell a little short.