Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur

Starring: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Michael Kelly, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, and Jake Gyllenhaal

Welcome back STMR readers!  It's amazing how the box office kicks into high gear every year on the third weekend of September.  It's like clockwork.  The doldrums of late summer are now behind us, and the fall movie season is thankfully upon us.  With it, we get a taste of more thought-provoking blockbusters as well as the early products of awards season.  On this first weekend of the season, there's very little original content arriving on the big screen interestingly enough.  We've got The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials being adapted from the book of the same name by James Dashner.  We've got Black Mass bringing the true story of longtime-wanted criminal James "Whitey" Bulger to the big screen.  We even have the recounting of the true story of some risk-loving mountain-climbers and their deadly journey to the summit of Everest in the film of the same name.  It's a weekend of adaptations, which may be indicative of trends to come this season at the box office.

It's 1996.  Led by professional climber Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), a group of paying customers is preparing for one of the tallest tasks in their lives with an expedition company known as Adventure Consultants.  The group includes wealthy Texas doctor Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), and journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly).  They're all leaving behind their lives embarking upon a seemingly impossible expedition to climb to the top of Mount Everest.  In fact, Rob is leading the expedition though his wife Jan (Keira Knightley) is expecting.  After months of preparation and climatizing for the most challenging ascent of their lives, the big day arrives.  There are a couple of complications, however.  

The first complication the Adventure Consultants group faces is that several other groups are ascending the mountain the same day, including an expedition led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal).  After some rather difficult conversations amongst the group leaders, they all agree to work together with so many people trying to ascend the mountain.  Still, their collaboration means nothing in the face of the second problem, Mother Nature.  Everest is on the path of a major storm and threatens to jeopardize all the expeditions.  Helen (Emily Watson) tries to warn the group from the base camp, but Rob ignores the forecast.  He believes the mountain makes its own weather.  He has no idea just how right he is.

I'm a risk-averse individual who fails to see the merits in climbing a mountain.  Yes, it's important to challenge ourselves collectively to continue understanding the world in which we live and to advance.  Yes, it's important to aspire to do the impossible.  In this case, however, we've got a bunch of rich guys climbing Mount Everest because they're bored with their mundane lives back at home.  With this in mind, I'm sure most of you can predict my feelings on Everest.  It may be based on a true story, but all true stories aren't worth recounting.  People do dumb things in real life.  Ascending the most dangerous mountain in the world in the midst of a storm for pure sport certainly qualifies as one of those dumb things in my book.  Without revealing specific plot details, making exceptions to standard policies or procedures that are intended to keep everyone safe certainly qualifies as well.  It suffices to say that these dumb things sour me on the narrative of this adventure thriller.

The filmmaking in Everest certainly befits a big budget blockbuster.  With sweeping panoramic shots of the snowy mountaintop that would give Peter Jackson a run for his money, chilly thrills that are reminiscent of Vertical Limit, and thunderous sound mixing that bring Mother Nature roaring to life, the filmmaking in Everest from director Baltasar Kormákur is noteworthy.  What I appreciate most is that Kormákur finds ways to set the time in this period piece despite the fact that the mountaintop visuals could really be in any given year from a moviegoer's perspective.  The Dole-Kemp t-shirt Josh Brolin's Beck Weathers sports, the "colorful" attire of the characters, and the general vibe Jake Gyllenhaal's character Scott Fischer embodies all help to emphasize the era.

The cast is certainly bringing quite a bit to the table.  Review the cast list at the beginning of this review, and you'll realize that there's a wealth of talent on deck.  We've got Jason Clarke bringing out the nobility in Rob Hall and Jake Gyllenhaal showcasing rockstar tendencies as expedition leader Scott Fischer.  In supporting roles, we've got John Hawkes giving us the little climber that could portraying the earnest yet ill-prepared Doug Hansen, Josh Brolin talking plenty of smack as rich Texan Beck Weathers, and Emily Watson serving as the on-screen embodiment of how audiences are probably reacting as base camp leader Helen Wilton.  Hell, we've even got Keira Knightley and Robin Wright wasting away as the doting wives left at home.  All in all, the cast doesn't miss a beat and elevates Everest despite its premise.

is certainly entertaining, but I can never quite get behind the concept.  It's not about suspending my disbelief but simply accepting the dumb things that some of the film's characters (and presumably some of the real life figures behind this tale) do.  Though Kormákur and his cast deliver the goods, it's just not quite enough.  Everest gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.