Technology has been one way that cinema has blown away every box and category that ever threatened to keep things small and every so often a piece of cinema comes along that is ultimately an event watching it. It blows up on the big screen and often visually is as compelling as any other aspect. Baltasar Kormákur’s Everest is the next in line (following in the footsteps of The Day After Tomorrow and Gravity), but what makes this stand out is not just the stunning visuals but the great performances, the tense storytelling and ability to bring the audience into this world in a way like no other. It truly is one of the great adventure stories.
Inspired by true events, Everest tells the tale of a group of mountaineers on an expedition up Mt. Everest. Rob Hall (with a shattering performance from Jason Clarke) is the leader of one of the groups making the final ascent up Everest, the highest point on Earth but nothing prepares him and his team for the dangers ahead when a violent storm strikes and the climbers must survive against the one of the deadliest blizzards encountered by man.
This truly is an incredible ensemble piece of cinema with a huge range of talent from Clarke as well Martin Henderson, John Hawkes, Naoko Mori, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robin Wright to name a few. What allows the cast to shine in Everest is that they are each given time for their story, which is followed through to a conclusion. There is no one lead over another (except for perhaps Clarke) but instead the audience is given back stories of many of the characters that allows you to feel closer to some over others and ultimately feel compelled to care about what happens. As well as the big action moments, Everest is filled with intimate little moments and it’s these emotional flourishes that force the story to move on at an excellent pace and really show the film’s strength.
In terms of the visual, this is big. It’s a bold and beautiful piece of cinema that was expertly created by moulding together green screen with recorded action that was actually done lower down on Everest itself as well as imagery of further up the mountain as layers of the final product. These were digitally put together and this allows the film to incredibly real unlike other films that are clearly created on CGI graphics.
Everest is a stunning piece of work in terms of a study of what technology can do for cinema but it’s also an intimate film with an outstanding cast of talent, telling an incredible story about what humans can do when they really feel dedicated.
The Blu-ray also contains thrilling bonus features including Race to the Summit: The Making of Everest and A Mountain of Work: Recreating Everest along with a host other featurettes that look at the true story of the events that took place in May 1996 and a feature commentary from Baltasar Kormákur.