Movie Review: EVEREST (2015) – Disappointing Dramatic Adventure Biopic with a great stacked cast
Everest is an Adventure/Drama film based on the incredible true story of pain and survival where a group of climbers in 1996 attempt to reach the top of Mount Everest but are hit with complications that test their will to survive. I was looking forward to this film for a few reasons, mainly because of the incredible cast, the intense drama, the ‘Biopic’ label, and Jake Gyllenhaal. And in the end, these were the things that i loved the most but it wasn’t enough to make this a memorable film due to a narrative that really doesn’t deliver and let the film down a lot.
I will start with the performances because this was a very stacked cast with a lot of quality actors and actresses. So it runs the risk of having too many people to focus on resulting in no-one getting enough time to shine. But they handle it really well for the most part, Josh Brolin and Jason Clarke have a lot to do in the film and they put on great performances and carry most of the scenes they are in. They did a great job at capturing the fear and pain these people would have been going through and conveyed it really well. Also i have to say, in the limited amount of screen time they got, Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightly, Sam Worthington and John Hawkes also did a great job. All of these actors added to the emotion really well, they added to the drama and tension you feel later on in the film and were great supporting roles. It still needed more Gyllenhaal because, well, the more the better but for what he was given he did a really really good and convincing job. In terms of the characters, i thought they were mostly really well handled, towards the end you end up getting a good idea of who most people are by name and face, but for the first hour you really only remember like 3-4 characters and everyone else up to that point was just there for a line or two occasionally.
The film had a lot of intense drama and some really tense moments that have you holding your breath for minutes at a time. The film makers did a great job at capturing the scope and size of Everest and really showing the amount of dangers they have to avoid. The cinematography is astounding, the wide shots of them climbing the mountain were great, the large shots aiming down an endless pit were freaky especially if you hate heights. And the very close up dramatic scenes during the storm were filmed so great that you start to feel cold as you feel like you are right there suffering with them. The last 45 minutes to an hour especially were just insane. It was gripping, intense, dramatic and especially emotional and if it was like that for the entirety of the film i would have liked it a lot better. Emotion really did play a big part in the film, most notably in that last 45 minutes, but no emotion would be felt if they didn’t introduce us to these characters in a way so that we cared about them. And that is why the first 20 minutes of this film were very valuable in having events later on pay off. They introduce these characters and have you really get behind their goals so that when they go through something bad, you feel it, same for when something good happens. But after saying all that the film was still a let down.
This movie was 2 hours in length and i have to say, half way through this movie, i thought it had already been 2 hours. After they get most of the characters introduced in the first 20 or so minutes, the next 40 minutes really had almost no substance whatsoever. It was moving really slowly and you get a lot of them just preparing for the climb and then sections of the initial parts of their journey. It was wearing down the film a tonne and if it wasn’t for the brief moments focusing on the development of the characters i may have just given up on the film then and there. It looked like it was really struggling that whole time to find something good to focus on and i was hoping it found something quick. A lot of that i felt should have been compressed down to like 20 minutes and it would have moved on much quicker and not left as big a mark on the film.
In the end, Everest was a bit of a let down, we did get great performances all across the board from all of the actors. The characters were well introduced and some of them were very well developed which gave the last 45 minutes of the film a lot of emotional impact. the last 45 minutes was intense, and dramatic and made for some very engaging moments. But despite all of that, the overall narrative i felt was weak especially in the first hour, nothing much was happening of interest and apart from very few individual moments it was moving too slow and not really focusing on anything interesting. If you can get through to the last 45 minutes to an hour you will end up enjoying it as it does make up for the film’s earlier issues.