In the biggest films, human relationships often get lost in the spectacle.Balthasar Koramakur’s Everest, however, is a completely different beast (no bad pun intended). What looks like a cliche disaster movie a’la 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow on paper ends up being much closer to the human drama centre of films like 127 Hours instead, with spectacular visuals to trump all of them. The build to the sadly true event – the most disastrous day on Everest until last year – may be too slow for some, but it’s a worthy investment once the fragile ecosystem starts crumbling and lives end. The film may be populated entirely by stereotypes – Josh Brolin plays an arrogant Texan, John Hawkes plays an honourable small-town man – but all involved (including the surprising revelation that Jason Clarke has the lead role!) give committed performances.
The concept of man vs. the unstoppable force of nature is one that has been explored with relish by filmmakers as varied as J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), and Jean-Marc Vallee (Wild). All of them hint at secrets, people swallowed into it against their will and a dormant ferocity that could emerge at any minute. But there’s also a healing quality, finding answers in the uncertainty. For the climbers in Everest, it’s a sense of self-actualisation that drives their pursuit of a goal in a most unforgiving part of the planet.