By Don Morton
The only star of this film is the implacable mountain itself
November 25, 2015
In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first humans to stand atop the world’s tallest mountain. Since then, thousands have set off to summit Everest, to the point that by 1996, when this partially fictionalized story takes place, climbers were literally lining up.
On May 11th of that year, a freak blizzard trapped several people coming down, and eight of them died (one was Japanese). A disaster, yes, but this is no disaster flick. Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur expertly blends location footage with some effective SFX tricks to put the viewer right up there in the “death zone.” Not for acrophobes.
Despite the talents of Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Hawkes, and others, there’s little character development. Doesn’t matter, because once the climbers leave base camp it becomes clear that the only star of this film is the implacable mountain itself, as well as the only bad guy needed. Big screen, please. The bigger the better.
Question: Is it incorrect to feel less grief over the deaths of people in places they should never have been, to which they went in some cases for reasons of ego or profit? I wonder about these things. (121 min)