WRITTEN BY: William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy
DIRECTED BY: Baltasar Kormákur
STARRING: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Hawkes
RATING: 3.5 stars
Everest is based on the events of the doomed 1996 expedition to climb the world's tallest mountain. Kiwi guide Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) leads one group that includes loud Texan Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), Doug Hansen (John Hawkes) who is trying to reach the summit on his second attempt, journalist covering the trip Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) and Japanese woman Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mora) who has previously conquered six of the world's seven highest peaks. Hall also teams up with another group led by his touring rival Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal).
It is a familiar story we have heard many times and there are a lot of books on the subject, but seeing the tragedy unfold on the big screen is a completely different experience. The first half is a wonderful story about people conquering nature with interesting characters, each driven to climb Mount Everest for different reasons. When most of the team reach the summit it is a joyous moment, but it soon becomes a disaster film with several lives lost. The difficulty with adapting a true story into a film is finding a way to add drama while still respecting the victims. Everest does this by trying to humanise each person through a series of distressing phone calls to partners back home. In some ways this works well, but there are moments that seem a little melodramatic despite the high stakes. Nonetheless, the cast was fabulous led by Clarke who was lovable, Brolin who at times was a stereotypically obnoxious American but also affable, Gyllenhaal who portrayed his character as a larrikin and Hawkes who had one of the sweetest sub-plots. The cast also includes Sam Worthington and Martin Henderson as fellow climb leaders, Robin Wright and Keira Knightley as worried wives at home, and Emily Watson and Elizabeth Debicki at the base camp scrambling to help. The film also looks fantastic and audiences feel immersed in the scenery. It is worth seeing in 3D.