Based on a true story, Everest is gripping, nail-biting, chaotic and, at times, even sensitive.

Baltasar Kormákur’s Everest is the story of a real-life expedition to climb Mount Everest that went horribly, horribly wrong. That’s not a spoiler by the way; there’s a sense of foreboding from the outset.

It’s 1996 and the world’s highest mountain has become a business. Groups of guides lead amateur climbers to the summit but this year it’s become overcrowded. And plagued by bad weather, it’s obvious that not all of the mostly affable and diverse group are going to make it. Rob (Jason Clarke) is leading the expedition that includes Beck (Josh Brolin), a Texan millionaire who only ever feels happy on a mountain; Doug (John Hawkes) a part-time postman who failed in his attempt to summit the previous year; journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly); and Yasuko (Naoko Mori), the only female, who has reached six of the seven summits. Jake Gyllenhaal plays another guide – something of a foil for Rob. His is an interesting character and it’s only a pity we don’t get more of him.

So the cast is star-studded. In terms of female characters, Helen (Emma Watson) manages to steal the show entirely, as she mans the operation from base camp. But you have to wonder why talent, and names, like Robin Wright and Keira Knightley were given such meagre parts of tearful wives left at home.

The summiting scenes get a little messy, not helped by the fact that the characters are all but disguised by frozen beards, goggles and hoods. But true stories are bound to be complicated. That it’s based on a true story might be why you don’t get all your questions answered, and that it’s true, of course, is all the more tragic. The only trouble is you don’t really know who you’re rooting for or why some characters get a shorter shrift that others.

Everest movie poster 2015
I didn’t go to see Everest in 3D. I’m scared of heights and didn’t want to spend my evening at the cinema feeling queasy. It was chaotic, agitating and tragic enough without the addition of vertigo. The scenery though, in 2 or 3D, is quite something.

Michael Kelly in Everest © Universal Pictures

the thin grey line

Lead image “Mount Everest as seen from Drukair2 PLW edit” by Mount_Everest_as_seen_from_Drukair2.jpg: shrimpo1967 derivative work: Papa Lima Whiskey 2 (talk) – This file was derived from  Mount Everest as seen from Drukair2.jpg: . Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons; Still of Michael Kelly in Everest (2015) via IMDb, © 2015 – Universal Pictures

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