I posted a rave of Baltasar Kormakur‘s Everest two and a half weeks ago, and then did Telluride-Toronto for two weeks. Everest opened two days ago. It does a lot right and almost nothing wrong, and yet it wound up with a mystifying 73% Rotten Tomatoes rating and an even stranger 64% on Metacritic. All interested parties (i.e., those who saw it) are asked to respond to the following statements in my 9.2 review:
(1) “Everest is realism at its most immersive and forbidding, and a very strong docudrama with several actor-characters you get to know and like and care about, and edited with exactly the right amount of discipline (there’s no padding or deadweight) and clarity and feeling. It delivers real sadness but it doesn’t squeeze it out because it doesn’t need to. It doesn’t cheat or exaggerate or use CG that you can spot very easily, and because it puts you right into the grim horror of what happened to eight climbers trying to ascend Everest on May 10th and 11th of 1996.”
(2) “This is easily the most assaultive and intimidating (and yet oddly thrilling) recreation of the Everest environment I’ve ever seen or felt, and a riveting drama about guys who didn’t have to die but did, mainly because the commercial expedition leaders wanted their client’s money (each climber paid about $65K) and because they wanted their clients to feel satisfied, and because they chose to ignore warnings about developing bad weather.
(3) “Every performance is straight up and real-deal but especially from the two stars, Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin. One survives, the other doesn’t. Clarke plays New Zealand-based commercial climbing guide Rob Hall and Brolin plays Beck Weathers, a Texas doctor who was one of Hall’s clients during the fateful climb. Everest is largely (though far from entirely) about what happens to these two, although there’s more than enough stress and grief to go around.
(4) “I wasn’t expecting Everest to be as good as it is because Kormakur’s last two films, Contraband (’12) and 2 Guns (’13), were escapist machismo popcorn fizz. But he has manned up and done the right thing with Everest, especially given the fact that realism has never been so out of favor in Hollywood these days as it is today. And yet Kormakur has delivered an epic thriller that is all about that highly precious commodity — a film that thoroughly respects the laws of physics — an almost unheard-of thing.”
(5) “The nerd comic-book fantasy superhero CG bullshit aesthetic has all but destroyed an amazing realm that movies could and should get into — i.e., bad, threatening real-world stuff that can happen to you in the wrong situations or from dealing with the wrong people but rendered realistically and not in flagrant defiance of physical law, so you can believe in at least 95% of what you’re seeing. Everest is therefore a huge shock — a film that actually respects the rules of nature and plausibility and takes your breath away all the same. That is one helluva thing.”