everest-trailer-movie_s.jpg

'Everest': An Interminable Slog of Mountain Porn

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Film | September 18, 2015 | Comments ()

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Film | September 18, 2015 |


everest-trailer-movie_s.jpg

Everest is an interminable slog of mountain porn populated by characters whose shallowness of characterization is matched only by the idiocy of their actions. The fact that it has a bunch of really good actors trying to make us give a shit, or the fact that it’s based on true events, really has no bearing on whether the actual story put on the screen is interesting in the slightest. It’s not.

A bunch of tourists pay $65,000 to climb up Mount Everest. It’s hard. A storm comes. A bunch of them die. Did you see the trailer? Then you’ve seen the movie.

Sometimes critics will make a dramatic point about a film by saying something like “the real main character was the mountain”. That’s the case for this film, but not in a good way. It is so obsessed with lingering shots of cliffs, and meandering pans across peaks and snow banks, that Everest could practically take out a restraining order on the camera crew. We get it. It’s a mountain. It’s big. And the filmmakers really really want to rub their cameras all over it. But if I wanted to sit and watch two hours of mountainbation I would just download a screensaver or find an appropriate episode of Nova. At least then I wouldn’t have a migraine from the stupid 3D glasses.

There’s a point in the film when a journalist asks the climbers why they’re doing this, and they jokingly respond with the obligatory “it’s there”. Later Josh Brolin’s obligatory asshole Texan with a heart of gold describes that whenever he’s not climbing, he just feels a dark cloud following him. They have medication for that, and it’s cheaper than $65,000 even out of pocket. John Hawkes of lovely Deadwood fame is the obligatory “poor” guy who works three jobs to afford the trip. He even talks about how he visited his kid’s school and the kids donated money for him to follow his “impossible dream”. If some guy came to my kid’s school and collected donations so he could go on a deathcation that cost more than my annual salary, I’d sue the fucking school board.

I went into the film having no idea why someone would pay $65,000 to kill themselves climbing a mountain that 7,000 other people have already climbed. I left with the conclusion that they are morons.

I’m all for exploration, for science, for pushing boundaries, for doing the seemingly impossible even for no other reason than to say that you did it. But while those that first climbed Everest all those decades ago were doing something new and different, those climbing up the mountain now simply aren’t. Once you’re shelling out five years of mortgage payments to do it with tour guides, following pre-determined and designed trails of ropes, with strategically timed departures and arrivals, you’re not blazing any trails, you’re just playing a sadistically dangerous version of The Amazing Race without a cash prize at the end.

I’m not saying it’s easy, one in thirty who attempt it die after all, I’m saying that it’s pointless and stupid. And the film does nothing to convince the audience otherwise, because it thinks that “because it’s there” and then pointing the camera at the mountain in order to verify that it is, indeed, there, is sufficient.

Movies premised on people suffering from problems they caused themselves by doing something stupid are not compelling. That remains the case even if the stupid thing in question is climbing a really tall mountain.


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