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EVEREST
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, Jake Gyllenhaal
Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Audio: Dolby Atmos TrueHD
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Universal
Features: See Review
Length: 122 Minutes
Release Date: January 19, 2016

I’m climbing Mount Everest because I can...because to be able to climb that high and see that kind of beauty nobody ever sees, it’d be a crime not to.”

Film ***1/2

There’s a certain WOW factor to the movie Everest that I haven’t felt from a movie in quite some time. Here we have a mountain climbing epic that was done with a combination of actual footage shot in Nepal and climbing sequences accomplished on a sound stage. But the blue screen and digital effects is so limited and hardly noticeable, that it ultimately feels like you’re witnessing the real thing on screen, which definitely adds to the overall effect.

But on top of the grand scale filmmaking, the movie itself happens to be a most gripping and extremely well acted piece of popcorn entertainment, not to mention one based on real events. It’s definitely a draining experience, making you feel all too glad that you didn’t go through what many of the characters here did. I’m willing to bet that even the most determined amateur mountain climber might think twice after seeing this.

The film is a recreation of events that resulted in the non-fiction bestseller “Into Thin Air”, written by Jon Krakauer, who also wrote “Into the Wild” and is indeed one of the characters in the film. In 1996, a man named Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), conceived of turning Mount Everest into something of a thrill seeking amusement ride for those willing to test themselves. Hall’s established Adventure Consultants actually ignited some competition, with other firms wanting to get in on the action.

We are soon introduced to a collection of characters ready to face anything on this expedition. In addition to Krakauer (Michael Kelly), then a journalist, there’s Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), a mailman who wants this experience to serve as an inspiration to his kids. There’s also Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), a rich Texan who we later learn wasn’t very truthful to his wife (Robin Wright) about where exactly he was going.

Needless to say, the assorted explorers and thrill seekers encounter extremely harsh conditions on more than one occasion. As expected, many lives are lost while others suffer brutal scars from the experience. And in the end, the audience really feels the impact of it all...and if you aren’t familiar with the actual story, as I was, the final scenes will be even more potent.

Both a stunning visual spectacle and a strong dramatic film, Everest is one of the more stirring real life accounts you are likely to experience. It carries a phenomenal technical approach that would make even the likes of James Cameron envious, as well as a dramatic weight that makes it all the more richer and engrossing. Whether or not the story itself is told as it actually happened, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more intense dramatic adventure than this!

Video ****

And I have yet to mention that the movie is offered in 3D, and it’s a terrifically splendid presentation from Universal. The wondrous scenery is amazingly captured, boasting some remarkably detailed imagery. The 3D quality really does a stunning job of immersing you in the movie. The sequences involving mountain ascending might just give you serious chills as a result, too! The 2D presentation is equally phenomenal.

Audio ****

From a sound perspective, the film is equally jarring and the Dolby Atmos track does a fantastic job at conveying the super rough environment. The surround sound quality is absolutely flooring, as all of the intense climbing and moments of brutal weather are delivered in a one of a kind effect. Dialogue balances out extremely well with the effects driven scenes and occasional music playback.

Features ***

This 3D Blu-ray Combo pack release from Universal includes a nice package of extras, all of which can be found on the 2D disc. There’s a feature commentary with director Baltasar Kormakur, as well as a number of brief but well handled featurettes including “Learning to Climb: An Actor’s Journey” and “A Mountain of Work: Recreating Everest” (both exclusive to the Blu-ray release). There’s also “Race to the Summit: The Making of Everest” and “Aspiring to Authenticity: The Real Story”.

Summary:

It’s been a long while since we got an adventure flick that was high on both spectacle and substance. Everest delivers both elements in remarkable strong form, and is highly recommended for 3D viewing!

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