Ever Rest?

Scaling MeruA few weeks ago, I saw the stunning movie Meru, a documentary about a successful mountain-climbing expedition up Mount Meru in the Himalayas filmed by one of the three climbers, Jimmy Chin. Years ago, I read Into Thin Air, a book about an ill-fated mountain-climbing expedition up Mount Everest written by one of the climbers, Jon Kraukauer. Kraukauer was on assignment for Outside Magazine. His book started as an article for the magazine.

Now there’s the film Everest, a fictionalized version of the events at the center of Into Thin Air. The movie is not based on the book, but the book does fill in the missing pieces.


Plot: The events took place in 1996, when two groups from two competing mountain-climbing companies were suddenly caught in a deadly snowstorm while climbing Mount Everest.  Twelve climbers died. Jason Clarke plays one of the main characters. The rest of the cast features Emily Watson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Kelly and John Hawkes. The movie is filmed in 3D for IMAX screens.

Everest-Altitude_500I read four reviews of Everest, making sure that it was worth seeing. Here are my reviews of the reviews, followed by a couple of points of interest.

The Verge

Review by Bryan Bishop

Spoilers skimmable? Absolutely! The gist is presented as rather straight forward.

Bottom line: Technically it’s impressive, but it doesn’t address the humanity.

Age old trope: this incident involves the worthwhile theme of man vs. nature, but it doesn’t address the interiors of the characters and their need to put their lives in danger by climbing the world’s tallest mountain.

Says Bishop:“Ultimately Everest feels like a deflated balloon, once swelled with expectations and possibility, only to dwindle away into lifelessness.”

Oy. Was that last word a pun, like losing your life on Mount Everest?


Review by Mike Reyes

Spoilers skimmable? Absolutely. Again, presented in a straightforward way.

Bottom Line: the beginning  is slow—it does not give us the buildup that a movie about a real-life natural disaster should. We don’t get to know the characters well enough to be invested in what happens to them.

But the actors, Reyes tells us, save this part of the movie.

He believes, unlike the reviewer above, that tt does give us a look into the man vs. earth theme. Unfortunately the “man” part is not as clear:

“Director Baltasar Kormakur has crafted a tense but gorgeous look at the spirit to survive at any cost. It is a slow, methodical journey that gets you to the top, but lets you find your own way down.”

Note: I’m not sure about the way down part. What are we finding? Are we personally going through the storm down down to xxxpoint

That said, Reyes gives the movie 3.5/5 stars for the experience that it delivers, as promised by the previews.

Rolling Stone:

Review by Peter Travers

Everest peakSpoilers skimmable? absurdly, no. There are way too many—they even name the people who die! Thanks, RS, that was really thoughtful, given that there’s not much character development in the first place.

Bottom line: not so much of a personal drama, because there are too many characters. But it is an adventure for the viewer:

“A dizzying visual adventure that will knock the wind out of you…. it is ‘the next best thing’ to climbing Mount Everest.”

“Still, there’s only one star in this movie: Everest…No matter. You watch Everest and you believe.”

And now, the last film site I visited—After a google search, I went straight to the review without bothering to look at the website itself. Stay tuned. I pulled a bait and switch on myself.


Review by James Mottram

Spoilers skimmable? Not at all. Motram tell us everything that goes wrong—what supplies they were missing, how the expedition was handled and the nature of the poor judgments.

Bottom Line: Technically it’s amazing:

“Kormákur skillfully opens up a world that many of us have never experienced. Shot in stomach-knotting 3D, it has the same white-knuckle intensity as Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Placing you firmly on the mountain, the film makes you feel the vertigo, the rush of blood to the head.

However there are too many characters and not enough emotional depth in them.

The problem is the second half because the narrative is too mechanical—the director makes sure to catalog every bit of the problem that goes wrong. (This review catalogs it for us.)

The Rating: 3/5 stars

“A valiant effort that never quite scales the dizzy emotional heights required…

Incongruous rating: tjhere’s a lot wrong with this movie, but it is given a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

So here’s the bait and switch part:

Only after I reviewed the review did I take a look at the name of the site, gamesradar+ and the + is not footnote.

So I thought,–OK, it’s a gaming site, plus articles on other forms of entertainment.

With a little more superficial digging, it became obvious that this site is for 14 year old boys–On the “News” page, one of the headlines is:

“PS4 beats out Xbox One and Oculus for T3 gaming gadget award”

Note how the game consuls are capitalized and the name of the award is not.

Wise advice
Wise advice

The remainder of the news is about superhero shows and movies and Dr. Who.

Supercool fact: Michael Kelly plays Jon Kraukauer. He’s the guy who plays the badass on House of Cards (Doug). But his character, Jon K, is a reporter on the expedition for Outside magazine. A badass character.

Interesting tidbit: movies pays no attention to the Sherpas on the trip who were hired by the two outfits. SOME OF THE SHERPAS DIED TOO.

Interesting tidbit 2: Rolling Stone reports, “Kormákur couldn’t shoot higher than base camp, around 14,000 feet, without sickening the actors. But a crew traveled to the top to get footage, while much of the climbing was shot in the Dolomites. No matter. You watch Everest and you believe.”

A little confusing: director’s name is Baltasar Kormákur. So Kormákur;s film is about the same events that  Kraukauer wrote about. It’s easy to get mixed up when you’re skimming over the spoilers.



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