REVIEW: “EVEREST” (2015) Universal Pictures

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CourageFearPainStrength – all the words used in the trailer to describe this film based on a true story. Though after watching this movie I can’t help but think they might have skipped a word – Insanity – because truly one must have a bit of this to even attempt to climb this mountain. To know going in that there is a 60/40 percent chance you might not come down..would and does deter most.

In ‘Everest’ we get brought back to 1996 when the big mountain had been actually been conquered enough times that it was no longer the specter it once had been. That didn’t stop people from wanting to climb it, instead it ended up turning it into a business. Leader of the trend is the New Zealand business team “Adventure Consultants” with partners Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) & Helen Wilton (Emily Watson). The teams that head to the summit are a mix of seasoned pros and moneyed amateurs, forking over fortunes to earn both killer views they get momentarily and probably most importantly thing of course, the bragging rights. On one team you have the clients – ‘average’ guy, mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), the big Texan, Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) and the one small Asian woman, a 47 yr old climber of 6 of the tallest peaks in the world, Yasuko Namba (Naoki Mori) along with guides Hall, Andy “Harold” Harris (Martin Henderson) & Michael Groom (Thomas M. Wright) – on the other team “Mountain Madness” you have the college frat guy guide Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal) & Anatoli Boukreev (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) who refuses to use oxygen even though they will be at a level noted by Hall as ‘Humans aren’t meant to function at the cruising altitude of a 747’
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Having reached the summit and literally touched the peak — their moment of triumph – though problematic as issues with roping and lateness of the afternoon make the timetable of descent turn into a dire situation. A storm sweeps in before certain climbers have turned back. What follows is a brutal waiting game. Among those stranded in the inhospitable climate is Hansen, Harris & Hall – who finds himself curled up in a nook, patiently, almost inhumanly biding his time as numerous attempts to save him come and pass him by due to more storms.
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Having years ago read Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” I hadn’t realized this was going to be that story told so vividly so I recommend you go in with little knowledge of the body count as Everest plays a bit in the vein of Apollo 13, as you know the story history wise – but in this one there’s only a slim chance the ones in trouble will make it.

The film truly focuses on the brutality of this type of climbing and what we now know was the beginnings of what the business end of this all is. All these climbs-for-hire have literally created a trash bin of Everest as what goes up, doesn’t always come down. And of course the body count of those left up on the mountain has also increased exponentially since this first tragic event. And let’s not ever forget all the sherpas with whom without them, most of these climbs could never be done.
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So what’s good about this movie? The 3-D is very good. Throughout most of the film you can’t discern between what is the real on-location shots and what is sound-staged. Brolin & Clarke really have the lead acting roles here and both do well. Sam Worthington also comes on well more towards the end as Guy Cotter. Overall it will prove to be a rough watch with it’s ending for some, but it’s a good film nonetheless.

Grade: C+
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, September 18, 2015

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REVIEW: “MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.” (2015) Warner Bros. Pictures

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Director Guy Ritchie starts off with a wonderful, very highly stylized car chase. From that moment on I pinned my hopes that the whole film would be just as good as this sequence. It ends up turning into rather a bumpy ride between plot highs..and plot lows..making it an overall fun, but uneven film.
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Henry Cavill as ‘Napoleon Solo’ and Armie Hammer as ‘Illya Kuryakin‘ are the dymanic spy duo coming from differing enemy camps – Solo being from the CIA and Kuryakin respectively, the KGB, who must work together along with help from German/car whiz girl mechanic/possible double agent (maybe even triple we’re not sure) ‘Gaby Teller’ (Alicia Vikander) to battle the forces of mysterious and evil criminal organization – The Vinciguerra Empire – a rogue Italian group of ex-Nazi loyalists ran by “Victoria Vinciguerra” (Elizabeth Delbecki) & her husband “Alexander” (Luca Calvani). The goal is to uncover the plot to stop them from obtaining and detonating a nuclear bomb.
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Following a fairly standard formula for spy plots that involves good guys vs. bad guys to save the world, here Ritchie throws intrigue to the back burner and instead ramps up the charm and personality of his characters. Each one has their own unique set of traits which set them apart, yet it also brings them perfectly together to create the type of “spy team” with palpable chemistry that works all the way around and delivers to us a most entertaining ride.
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Add in the always witty and charming delivery of Hugh Grant, Jared Harris and Misha Kuznetsov in their respective roles as head of differing agencies and you can’t beat the overall fun that they dish out. 1DE8C234
As with any film of this genre, my motto of ‘your only as good as your villains’ once again applies as I did find those being the only characters the lacking the charm and chemistry of their counterparts, though still stylish, just missing what is truly needed to a baddie, the ability to still like them even though they are the villains.

Ending with the perfect setup for a sequel, I do hope the wonderful stylization remains as do the characters, though with a bit better plot and new villains as it could prove that a sequel might even turn out to be better than an original.

Grade: C
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Arclight Hollywood – Wednesday, August 12, 2015 – Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Opens Nationwide: Friday, August 14, 2015