Starring Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin and Jake Gyllenhaal
Directed by Balthasar Kormakur (2 Guns)
Rated PG-13 for intense peril and disturbing images

     Being the tallest mountain on our planet, every year lots of mountain climbers attempt to conquer Everest and many of them fail, or worse. This new film by Icelandic director Balthasar Komakur tells the true story of a group of climbers from a 1996 expedition who, on an attempt to get to the top, undergo extreme adversity and tragedy once there.

     I have always been fascinated by the thought of people climbing Everest. Through books and documentaries, I have created in my own mind what it must be like to make this dangerous journey. But this movie is, by far, the most realistic vision I can imagine of what it must be like to risk your life just to be able to say you did it. I have no desire to climb any of the seven peaks, but being able to watch a movie like this gives me all the thrill I need, wrapped up in a two hour package.

     Production-wise, the film is a fantastic experience. It is spectacular to look at and take in. Seeing it in 3D IMAX, in my opinion, is the only way to go with a film like this. It’s big and bold and a wonderful sight to behold. I was also happy that they hired one of the greatest modern composers, Dario Marianelli, to do the score. Showing the opposite extreme from his tender scores for Pride & Prejudice and Anna Karenina, the music is allowed to open up and breathe, making the experience that much more grandiose.

     Story-wise the film is told almost like a documentary, which is good and bad. I rather enjoyed getting to know the characters, but try as hard as they did, the cast still seemed distant. The roles are well-acted by an extremely talented cast, but the parts weren’t the juiciest. The story itself tells of man vs. nature, which allows a bit of tension between its characters, but not enough to really draw you in like it could. A similar story, A Perfect Storm, tackles this complex screenwriting dilemma in a better way, providing for a better connection to the human element of the adventure. That being said, it shouldn’t be a deterrent to seeing the film.

     One thing I am both surprised and glad the filmmakers did, was to make it family-friendly. I didn’t expect it at all but found it refreshing that a big film with a huge budget and a killer cast could actually be made without bad language, sex and violence. There are some frightening images that are important to the film, but overall what a nice change of scenery. A-