Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Genre: Thriller, Disaster Movie
EVEREST is a no-brainer attempt to follow in the success of GRAVITY’s footsteps. This may sound odd to some readers since one is a fictional science fiction piece and the other is an elongated hike, but if everyone’s suffering from short-term memory loss, it’s worth pointing out that the poster for EVEREST literally carries the exact same tagline, save for the replacement of the word “Don’t” in favor of the intellectual alternative, “Never”. Otherwise, both films are about people trying to overcome insurmountable odds whilst being flung left and right at the whims of nature.
And this one doesn’t have the benefit of Space Cloon
EVEREST is the worst film of 2015 thus far. That spot was previously reserved for HITMAN: AGENT 47 and 50 SHADES OF GREY, two films that apart from enjoying mid-centennial values share a common interest in failing to capitalize on the perfectly bankable pieces they adapted. EVEREST, however, commits an even greater sin. It provides its audience with enough stars to fill theater seats and presents a couple of pretty shots of a mountain that one could easily find on National Geographic. The sixty-five million dollar budget is then packaged in a narrative so paper-thin that hoping that a character survives is secondary to them dying, because if they don’t live through the storm, viewers don’t have to suffer the remainder of the arduous trek downhill.
J.C Chandor’s ALL IS LOST was up against GRAVITY in the (wo)man vs. nature category back in 2013, and used its excellent sound design to its advantage. EVEREST is the auditory equivalent of hearing a child blow into a Best Buy USB microphone for two hours. The loud gusts of wind carry no dramatic weight, and the horror of the experience never really grabs the viewer by the throat, but it’s hard to blame the sound designer when there is so little else to work with.
And the Academy Award goes to…
In addition, the visual prowess of the film is cut short due to the fact that there’s no directorial vision attributed to the project, causing it to feel frustratingly generic. GRAVITY had mesmerizing camerawork and sound design to protect most of the criticisms regarding its weak screenplay, and ALL IS LOST challenged filmmakers by limiting itself to no dialogue and tethering the narrative to a boat in open water. These cinematic qualities ultimately made these films interesting. EVEREST, on the other hand, is a film that doesn’t seem to dare itself to do anything fresh except for a handful of on-location shots, which ultimately don’t hold up considering that more impressive things have been done in nature documentaries and IMAX specials.
If this isn’t enough to turn you away, it should be noted that EVEREST is easily the worst written film of the year. Dialogue is flat as a crepe, and sequences blatantly repeat themselves, the most notable example being a segment in which a protagonist has a virtually identical conversation with his wife over a walkie-talkie twice. In addition, the female characters are pathetically constructed, doing nothing but talking over phones and walkie-talkies in brief periods. Consequently, there is absolutely nobody to sympathize with, and although the film seems to stay quite true to the actual events that took place, some fictional re-imagining wouldn’t have hurt. After all, when comparing this film to VERTICAL LIMIT, it’s blatantly obvious which of the two is more dramatically charged.
The entire experience not only feels like an attempt to add filler, but the filmmakers appeared to have been completely lost as to which star should play the lead role. Jason Clarke comes across as the lead, but has no tangible arc, Josh Brolin feels secondary until the third act (but at least goes through somewhat of a shift near the end), and Jake Gyllenhaal, the star who should logically get the most attention, spends two hours playing the chillest daredevil this side of the Mississippi, only to be completely abandoned. Not only does EVEREST have three terrible leads, it literally feels as if the script originally had one character that was cut up into three different individuals.
EVEREST is the worst type of release. At the very least 50 SHADES OF GREY succeeded in creating soft-core erotica that a niche audience could enjoy, and nobody had high hopes for HITMAN: AGENT 47, even though it at least succeeded in being numbing popcorn fodder. EVEREST didn’t need to be terrible, and it’s almost insulting to the poor individuals who actually passed away during this expedition that their lives were so greedily captured on film. Anyone who would read up on the true story behind EVEREST could come to the logical conclusion that it’s not a case worth putting on film; as brutal as it sounds, people die in these types of expeditions all the time. There’s nothing noble, impressive or redemptive about this tale, and since the film didn’t attempt to fictionalize anything for stronger dramatic effect, audiences are left with a vapid, multi-million dollar waste of time.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend