Everest is so much more than what its trailer suggested. What seemed like another run of the mills thriller in the line of “Cliffhanger” and “Vertical Limit” turned out to be a potent human drama which emphasized as much on the sparkling visual effects as it did on character development and the reason that brought the men on the Everest in the first place. Truly it would have been a much lesser picture if it failed to convey the varying inspirational factors which drove the men to conquer Everest in the first place. The fact that the film is based on true events makes it that much more heartbreaking. I walked into this film with no priors into the true story that it narrates and that in turns proved to be quite helpful in sustaining the tension and edge of the seat thrills that this film comes in with.
Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) runs an organization called Adventure Consultants which specializes in taking seasoned climbers to the Everest summit on payment of whooping fees. On one such mission, things go horribly wrong. The climbers take to climbing the Everest summit but soon realize that the cliff is not fixed with ropes. The three guides on the tour take to fixing ropes which would then be used by the climbers during their upward movement. This process takes longer than expected. Once the ropes are fixed the climbers take to the climb but precious time has been lost. While some of them make it to the top, one of the climbers lags behind and by the time he reaches the top with the help of Rob Hall, its already way too late to come down to the base camp safely. Just to make the matter worse, a blizzard of epic proportions hits the climbers who now start falling like the nine pins.
The film builds up gradually. The first half is slow. Each of the primary characters is introduced and the director makes it a point to give us an insight into the lives of these men. Beck (Josh Brolin) is self-sure climber who finds solace in climbing the toughest of peaks and is not afraid to say that on the face. Scott (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cocky and on your face climber who is not willing to accept that he is any lesser than any climber. Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) is the man who came up with the book and the article on the fateful climb which went on to become the film that Everest is. Jan (Keira Knightley) is Rob’s wife who was supposed to be on the climb with Rob but couldn’t make it as she was pregnant. She gets to speak with Rob sporadically between his battles against the blizzard, frostbite and unavailability of oxygen as he climbs down the summit.
Everest is a deeply affecting feature as it first creates connect between the audience and its characters and then goes on to show the insurmountable odds that the characters have to face just so that they could survive. The visual effects are an organic extension of the story and works wonderfully in tandem with the bravura performances by the ensemble cast. It will be difficult to pin point a specific sequence as the milieu of cinematography, editing and visual effects constantly keep conjuring an absorbing picture which is as unrelenting as it is beautiful. There are sequences which are so heartening that you are bound to fill the sword hitting you were it hurts the most. The scene where one of the climbers falls down from the steep while another is busy trying to make ways to get him down comes as a jolt. The ecstasy of the climbers on reaching the summit is one hell of a watch knowing fully well that they are doomed to face a greater threat on their way down.
Use of 3D in a film like this is worth the effort. The 3D gives you an idea of the spatial components that the traditional 2D may completely absorb in its two dimensions. The biggest contributing factor is the exact feel of the height which is viciously elevated by the 3D. The ensemble cast led from the front by Jason Clarke, acts their hearts out. There are conflicts in each of the men and they bring it out wonderfully. The film toggles between the climb and the background of the characters with astute authority. Baltasar Kormákur has outdone his previous works by creating a deeply affecting visual effects extravaganza which works not only because of its technical finesse but also because of the heart that he puts in each of his characters.
Everest is a sensational watch. Lovers of action as well as drama will find their voices in this film. Watch it in the biggest screen possible with the best sounds possible. IMAX, I believe will be the best bet.