Everest (2015): Because It Was… About Mountaineering

Back in his younger days, my husband was a mountaineering dude — the kind that planned vacations around getting to a mountain, then climbing said mountain, then coming back down the mountain, and going home.

Now, I understand the attraction to the great outdoors and don’t even mind roughing it a bit. However, this need to go to the very top of all these different mountains, I’m not quite as in tune with.The famous George Mallory quote about climbing Mt. Everest “because it’s there” doesn’t resonate with me (maybe especially because he died on Everest after saying it) However, since my fella loves that stuff, we watched Everest.

This movie was about a disaster on Mt. Everest that occurred in 1996. I remember reading or hearing about this back in the day, prior to watching the movie, and I am pretty certain it was covered in a documentary that I watched about Everest (the Liam Neeson one).

This movie was decidedly “Meh.” I never understood how the characters knew one another. I could barely understand what they were talking about — in part because of the accents, but also because they were talking about a bunch of mountaineering stuff that I didn’t understand. I have no idea why Rob, the experienced guide, decided to let Doug go in the first place (in the movie, he seemed sick, like pneumonia sick) and I certainly don’t know why he was allowed to summit so late in the day.  There was a good bit of drama about O and ice and ropes and moving on — none of which made sense either. In fact, the only reason I understood anything at all in this movie was from my spotty memories of the documentary I’d watched.

Jake Gyllenhaal Michael Kelly Josh BrolinI know it’s not a film’s job to teach the audience everything about a subject, but surely the folks who made it had to have known that people other than mountaineers would watch it. There aren’t that many mountaineering, Everest-climbing people out there to make a film successful. Maybe they were banking on Jake Gyllenhaal‘s appeal, but really, he was the absolute least-interesting character in the movie. All I know about him is that he took steroids because he way maybe sick? and maybe that was bad? I don’t think that’s a fair presentation of the actual guy, who seemed to be doing all that he could.

Mount Everest is a draw for people from all over the world, even though it’s deadly and uncomfortable and dangerous. This movie didn’t really capture much of that, even though almost everyone in the movie dies. What the movie does that made it “meh” instead of just bad is present an account of a truly, horrible story (though given the high rate of death on  Mt. Everest, I’m sure there are many other accounts just as harrowing as this one could have been). I just wish that they’d done a better job with that story.

 

 

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