Thursday, September 24, 2015

Everest Review

Back in 8th grade English class, I remember watching a movie called Into Thin Air: Death on Everest. I can't remember why we watched that movie, but we did and I liked it. It was Miss Oveson's class. For me that was the 2002-03 school year, which will either date me or make me seem young. Anyways, the movie itself is a TV movie that was released in 1997 and is based on the best-selling book by Jon Krakauer called Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, which is Krakauer's personal account of the Mt. Everest disaster that he survived the year before. At the time, it was the biggest disaster on Mt. Everest in terms of death toll. Tragic story. There's since been a documentary short based on this experience of which I have not seen and probably other various tellings of this story. And now we have a big-scale IMAX movie called Everest. Honestly, I didn't make the connection with this movie until about a month ago. I knew for quite some time that this movie was coming and I'd been anticipating it. However, I didn't realize that this movie was also based off of that 1996 experience until I did my monthly movie preview for September and recognized one of the character names. That was a cool realization. I like this story, so I'm glad that I now got the experience of seeing it again on an IMAX screen.

I don't want to say too much about the plot of this movie. Telling you that it's based off a true story and giving you the name of the book that Krakauer wrote as well as the title of the TV movie that came a year later is almost saying too much. I could've just said that this is a movie about a group of people that hike Mt. Everest and leave it at that. But then there would've been no review to write. You already knew that this was a movie about people hiking Mt. Everest because the movie is called Everest. I think informing you that this is based on a true story actually makes this more appealing. So yeah, now that the cat is out of the bag, this is a tragedy. It's a very emotional story. And do you know what, knowing that doesn't take away from the experience. I knew exactly who was going to live and who wasn't. I knew what happened to cause all of this. Did that make it less suspenseful? Did that make it unexciting? Was I bored because I knew the outcome? Absolutely not. This whole movie is about the journey that takes place to lead to these events. That said, ain't no way I'm going to tell you who lives and who doesn't. I'm not even going to tell you the names of the characters and what they do. Obviously you know that Jon Krakauer survives because he wrote the experience down. But that's it. A group of people hike Mt. Everest and not all of them make it down. That's all that you need to know about this plot.

I tell you that this movie is all about the journey and man was it a fantastic journey. I liked it before as a TV movie made in the 90's, but as an IMAX film it was incredible in many ways. The first reason is because the 3D IMAX experience made me feel like I was hiking Mt. Everest along with them. I often don't recommend seeing movies in 3D. I'm normally of the opinion that 3D is just a gimmick to make more money, but every once in a while a movie comes around that I will say needs to be seen in 3D and Everest is one of them. Specifically, if you can pull off seeing it in 3D IMAX, that's the way I'd recommend this. An IMAX theater was built near my current residence fairly recently and I've loved it. IMAX is amazing! Especially if you can pull off seeing it for cheap like on a $5 Tuesday or for a matinee price. Not every movie is worth paying the extra few bucks for an IMAX ticket, but Everest is totally worth it. I'm sure the movie will still look beautiful on a TV screen or on a normal theater screen, but seeing it on an IMAX screen and in 3D as well gives you the sensation that you are actually on Mt. Everest. I don't know how they pulled this off or where they shot this movie, but the shots in the movie are absolutely breathtaking. As it panned out to show you the whole mountain or show you the view that the characters had, I was blown away. I would've been totally down for a simple IMAX documentary of Mt. Everest like this with no story or or characters. The fact that we had both made this even better.

About the story and characters, I will admit that this did move slowly. The movie took time to develop these characters. We went on this journey with them and there were times where we moved slowly forward with them as they climbed the mountain over the course of a month or so, or however long it took. Because of this, I can totally understand if people walk out of this movie feeling like the pace was off or the movie was boring. I didn't feel that way, though. I enjoyed the scenery. I enjoyed the slow-moving journey. I was basking in the glory of every individual shot of the mountain and I was enjoying getting to know the people that were going on the hike. I felt like I was with them. Personally I love hiking. I don't do it as often as I would like and I'm not in good enough shape to do extreme hikes, but I love the journey. I love the scenery. I'm one of those hikers that has his camera out and is snapping pictures every other second. I also love the experience of hiking with people because you can get to know someone really well as you both are just hiking up a mountain. I've made many great friends by going on hikes. Thus I loved this movie and I'm so glad I saw it in 3D IMAX because I felt like I was hiking Mt. Everest. That's something that I'm never going to do in my life, so I'm glad this movie gave me a feel for what that experience was like.

Yes, nature is beautiful. I love nature. However, nature is also an unforgiving beast at times. For every amazing experience I've had out in nature, there's also been an equally horrifying experience out in nature. Have you ever gone on a hike and realized part-way through that you didn't dress warmly enough? What if it starts raining or snowing unexpectedly? Thunderstorms can be a beast. I love watching them, but I hate being caught in the middle of them. It terrifies me if I'm out in the open in the middle of a thunderstorm where lightning is striking awfully close to me. Luckily I've not experienced very many natural disasters in my life. I do remember the tornado in Salt Lake City back when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, but that's it. Yet there's millions of people who have been caught in natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. and have lost their lives because of it. Sometimes it's purely bad luck. Other times it's sadly kinda their fault because they could've gotten away, but didn't. Everest does a great job of showing a broad spectrum of this. It's beautiful and breathtaking at one moment while being terrifying and awful another moment. Some instances you feel bad for the people who just lucked out as far as the weather that happened while they were hiking. Other people you are sad for, but you are a bit mad at them for making some really bad decisions.

On that note, there are a lot of interesting themes in this movie. There's a moment in the movie where they are sitting in their tent and one of them asks the others why they are doing this. "Because I can." "Because I want to prove that the impossible dream can be achieved." "Because I've hiked the other major peaks in the Himalayas and so I need to do this one." Mt. Everest is the ultimate test of man vs. nature. Conquer Mt. Everest and you can say that you've literally conquered the world because it is the highest peak in the world. That's a great feeling and thus you can't blame someone for wanting to achieve that ultimate goal. But at the same time, what's the price that comes with it? Human beings aren't made to be at altitudes that high. It literally kills them. Thus you have to spend some time acclimatizing to the altitude before ascending to the peak and after that you have to get up and back down pretty darn quick. Is it worth it? Is it smart? If you have a wife and kids at home, is this something you should ever do? If your wife is pregnant with your first child, is this something you should ever do? If you fail, which is very likely, you not only end your own life, but you ruin the lives of many around you that love and care for you. I really loved this movie because it dove into all of this pretty deeply and thus is cause for deep, personal reflection. I'm not just talking about literally climbing Mt. Everest, but this could be very metaphorical for all of our lives.

There's a lot of great acting in this movie. Nothing stands out as an Oscar-caliber performance, but it's great all around. And this is a really loaded cast, too. In the midst of all the big names, Jason Clarke is actually our main character. Right along with him is Josh Brolin and Jake Gyllenhaal followed by John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, and Keira Knightley among others. I don't want to dive deeply into any specifics with these characters, but collectively as a cast, this was amazing. I felt an attachment to all of these hikers. Knowing what was coming up, this made me really nervous and emotional as I anticipated disaster. I'm not going to say which characters were part of emotional scenes. Some of the aforementioned actors weren't even part of the group that headed up to the actual summit, so I'm going to leave that as a surprise for you. But I will say that the whoever it was that took part in the emotional scenes, they did a fantastic job of really hitting the home run here in the movie in the closing scenes of the movie. Like I said, no one is getting an Oscar nomination for this. But that's okay. They all did a great job.

Everest was in IMAX only this past week. I'm lucky enough to have an IMAX screen near me, so I made sure to catch it in 3D IMAX before it expands to other theaters. I was glad I did because it was fantastic. The movie will now expand nationwide to other non-IMAX theaters this upcoming weekend, so make sure you catch it. Specifically, if you can afford the price of a 3D IMAX ticket or the IMAX theater near you has an awesome deal where you can get the ticket for cheap, that's the direction you need to go with this. If neither of those are an option, do me a favor and at least see this in 3D. You won't regret your experience. Yes, the story is great. Yes, it's tragic. Yes, the acting by everyone is fantastic. Yes, there are a whole lot of themes in this movie that stick with you. But the best part of the movie is the visual experience. A 3D IMAX ticket will ensure that you actually travel to Mt. Everest with this group and that is an experience you won't regret. I suppose you can go to a normal theater and simply watch them go on this from a distance, but I don't think it will be quite the same. So make the decision to be a little adventurous. It'll be worth it. My overall grade of my experience with the movie Everest is a 9/10. Note the wording of that. The movie itself might be a tad bit lower, but the 3D IMAX experience brings it to that level.

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