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

REVIEW: “THE IMITATION GAME” (2014)

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Note: “The Imitation Game” release date in the U.S. is November 28th, 2014 ~ this review contains no spoilers as the movie is based on historical fact already known.

Do you know who Alan Turing is? I’m going to guess not. After you watch this movie you will most likely be saddened by this fact as I know I was.

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) was a master mathematician who finds himself plunged into the secret code-breaking underbelly world of Bletchley Circle in World War II when he’s hired by the British government – along with a team of code breakers – to crack Nazi Germany’s supposedly impenetrable Enigma code and end the war. He makes no friends in his inner circle all throughout his life, but not due to the fact that he doesn’t want them, he is one of those people who are of such true genius they never really learned how to be socially adept. the ig 1

Turing wrestles with a multitude of impediments – shyness, homosexuality (which at the time was illegal) and the overriding pressure of heading up such a mammoth venture would be daunting for anyone trying to stay true to his heart and his extraordinary skill along the way. Not only was Turing unconventional, but his methods were as well. His deterrents included Naval High “Commander Denniston” (Charles Dance) who tries to shut him down more than once, and in the beginning, most of his team, the somewhat caddish “Hugh Alexander”(Matthew Goode), Keira Knightley as “Joan Clarke”, who becomes Turing’s main confidant and for a moment in time, his fiance, the spy amongst them, “John Cairncross” (Allen Leech) and “Peter Hilton” (Matthew Beard) who’s heartbreaking moment occurs when he realizes even though they have broken the code, they most likely can’t save his brother serving on a naval ship due to the nature of the beast that is war and the secret games that must still be played to ensure the safety of millions rather than just one. the ig 3 Mark Strong comes in as MI6 specialist “Stewart Menzies” another small but brilliant turn here as he is probably the only one that has Turing’s back during all this..well him and the man who lives at 10 Downing Street at the time, Winston Churchill that is. 😀 the ig 2 I would also be remiss in not mentioning Rory Kinnear as “Nock” the police detective who is really at the root of Turings out-ing so to speak as he, along with “Sergeant Staehl” (Tom Goodman-Hill) & “Supt. Smith” (Steven Waddington) are the ‘bobbies’ who dig into Turings past after a reported robbery at his home. Even though once Nock interrogates Turing and finds out his whole story, he is reluctant to move forward, the damage has already been done.

the ig 4 The story behind this film is just as harrowing as the one being solved. Here is a man who should have been touted as a worldwide hero in history books everywhere, who’s face should probably be on some type of pound currency, yet we’ve never heard of him as he was persecuted by his own nation for being homosexual and made to either undergo chemical castration or serve 2 years in prison because of this fact. Think of all the people in the city you live in ~ as it might not have existed if not for Alan Turing. Here is a man who saved 14 MILLION lives, yet killed himself due to the fact he was shunned by his own country instead of celebrated just because of who he was sexually. And yes, he was the inventor of what was for years referred to as the ‘Turing Machine’ yes ladies and gentlemen..what we now call ‘computers’. Finally in 2013 this was changed by Queen Elizabeth and rightfully so because it’s the true shame of a nation to deny this man his rightful place in it.
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This film is a tour de force for me, not only because of it’s place in history, but because of the man himself. I believe this powerful film will stay with me for some time to come and I can only hope it does the same for anyone who sees it. It even more elevated by strong performances across the board of not only Cumberbatch, who is definitely in the performance of his career so far, but his strong supporting cast as even Knightly, who usually dismal performances can break up the direction of a film, carries on well. Come Oscar time I’m betting on the fact we will see some nominations here of not only film, but performances as well.

Grade: A

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