Sunday, 20 September 2015

REVIEW - EVEREST (BALTASAR KORMAKUR)


At some point during the snowstorm that envelops Everest the mountain and Everest the movie, the relentless barrage of blizzard and the equally relentless barrage of pain and suffering it causes begins to imbue upon Baltasar Kormakur's film a curious quality that it has no intention of earning. It defies the mainstream demand for relief, preferring the less palatable method of employing something close to realism, or as close as such a film can get. Judging Everest as such may be unwarranted, though it's no less unflattering to the film - Kormakur's incessant cutting only contributes to the confusion, while a narrower outlook on these horrible events might have provided greater clarity and stronger visceral impact. Judging Everest as the 3D Hollywood disaster thriller - it must surely be an attempt at that, given the star-wattage of its ensemble, many of whom must make do with unforgiving bit parts - it comes off barely any better. In this context, the film is one of rote character development and pat emotional payoffs, the central, extended snowstorm stretch ensuring that the former amounts to little, the latter thus established on thin foundations. The result is a film with innate attributes of genuine value - an Everest-set thriller needs to fall extremely short of target not to thrill in some form or another - and execution that's rarely less than passable, save a few laughably fake-looking set-ups. The cinematography is effective, ditto the score, and while a wide range of nationalities among the ensemble cast produces an even wider range of accents (only Emily Watson, the film's MVP, gets hers right), the performances are convincing. It's nothing like the film it seems to nearly become, and not even particularly like the film it's trying to be, but Everest is a resolutely decent piece of handiwork almost across the board. It's OK, and I'm OK with that.