I read Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air when it was published in 1997, it was an account of the harrowing trek up Mount Everest in 1996 where 12 people died trying to reach the peak. The book is one of the most memorable books I have read. The movie Everest is not based on the Krakauer’s book, but tells the same story – and includes Krakauer as a character since he was one of the people on the quest to get to the peak.
Everest follows Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) who is the owner and main guide of the company Adventure Consultants. in 1996, he leaves a pregnant wife (Kiera Knightley) at home to lead a journey up Everest. Hall’s business partner and basecamp manager is Helen (Emily Watson). Hall is leading a few adventurers up the mountain including Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) and Doug Hansen (John Hawkes). There is another mountaineering team led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) that interact with Hall.
The first half of the movie shows the physical and mental strength needed to get to the peak of Everest. It shows the dangers that people face with going up the mountain. The second half of the movie deals with what happened when a storm hits Everest during the quest for the peak. And while it is snowy and frozen on Everest, the environment is shown to be a Hellish environment for humans.
The visuals of the film are astounding. The cinematography beautiful and the shots of the mountains and environment are a visual feast. The special effects that made it possible to get actors on the mountain are fantastic and seamless. This is one of the reasons to see the movie: The visuals.
Clarke turns in a great performance as Rob Hall, the ever careful guide and mountaineer. Emily Watson is also fantastic as Helen, Watson’s performance late in the movie is the emotional staple of the movie. Kudos to Watson. Brolin also turns in a memorable performance as Weathers who is a bit cocky, but also mentally and physically strong when things turn south. Knightley is unfortunately not given enough screen time.
While the script touches lightly on this question, I wish that it would have done more with it: Why climb Everest?
This movie is not a happy movie, it is pretty depressing and wears one down. That being said, this is a movie to be seen for its visuals and the performances of its leads.