Everest is the latest film to showcase the extreme adventure of attempting to climb Mt. Everest. Similar to most of its predecessors, Everest is based on a true story, following the events of the 1996 climbing season tragedy. The story follows two rival adventure climbing groups that team up in an attempt to bring their clients up and down Mt. Everest safely. However, as the weather takes a turn for the worse, everyone is in danger of being stranded on the icy terrain.
The film is packed with an A-list cast, emotional highs and lows and stunning visual effects that make you feel like you are on the mountain, too. The visual effects are arguably the best part of the film. IMAX teamed up with Universal Studios to give Everest a one-week special-engagement early release in IMAX 3D. Universal was smart to make this deal because it allows Everest to get better word-of-mouth publicity ahead of the standard and RealD 3D release on Friday, Sept. 25.
For anyone who is unaware of what IMAX is, I suggest you go and experience it for yourself. To be brief, it is a massive floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall screen with super-loud surround sound to make you feel like you are a part of the movie, not just watching it. IMAX also has the best visual effects around. The 3D is absolutely stunning, making you duck out of the way as an avalanche plummets towards you. The cinematography on the scenery shots is also amazing, which made me think back to the old IMAX days of standard museum documentaries. Some films are now made for a premium screening experience, Everest certainly being one. This is exemplified in the scene where a helicopter goes up to one of the base camps on a rescue mission. As the helicopter swerves in, out and around icebergs, you feel as though you are along for the ride and may crash.
The second enjoyable feature of Everest is the deep emotion running throughout the entire film. The emotion of the film is the same as a typical climb: ascending to the peak then quickly descending until you hit rock bottom. This is where the screenwriting was absolutely perfect. The beginning scenes draw you in and make you emotionally attached to several characters. Towards the middle, you feel their accomplishments and failures as if they are your own. By the end, you are left with the same tragic, broken feelings as the survivors.
One aspect of the film that I thought added to the intense emotions was the up-close shots of the climbers’ faces. Some of the reviews that came out a month ago stated that these shots were “too personal and uncomfortable” for IMAX. I feel the exact opposite. It is brilliant directing to have up-close shots of the climbers because it makes the audience uncomfortable. The entire first half of the film is full of little quips about how climbing is dangerous and people may not make it and so on. Adding the close-ups helps the audience to feel the true seriousness of the adventure. You are supposed to be uncomfortable watching the film because you do not know whether the climbers can make it up and down Mt. Everest alive.
Besides the visual effects, thick emotions and well-written script, the cast also had good performances. The cast includes Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightly, Emily Watson, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly and Robin Wright. Clarke and Knightly, who play husband and wife, perhaps share the best scene towards the end of the film. Their performances enhance the emotional phone call they share.
All in all, Everest is an all-around winner. For anyone considering seeing it this weekend, I highly recommend spending the few extra dollars to see it in IMAX 3D. I cannot imagine it would be the same movie in 2D.