Tag Archives: Keira Knightley

Everest (2015)

24 Sep

“Up here… the mountain is God.”

It’s a very unsettling quote delivered from experienced mountaineer Anatoli Boukreev (Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson) about the conditions on Mt. Everest, but also a quote that rings true. In a high-altitude land known by climbers as the “death zone”, oxygen rapidly depletes the body, causing slurred speech, cloudy judgment, and slow reaction times. Even something as simple as a cut or bruise could produce a tremendous strain on the body, bringing one to exhaustion. In this land, the constant freezing temperatures, sudden danger of avalanches, or high-wind blizzards could mark an unexpected tragedy. Within the first moments of watching Everest, one thing becomes immediately clear: all who venture here really are at the mercy of the mountain.

Everest, based on the real-life events of a group of climbers in spring of 1996, starts off with bold, breathtaking mountain imagery of the world’s highest peak. We know right off the bat, this is going to be a spectacle of epic scale, and the visuals projected on an IMAX screen are nothing short of inspiring. Soon, we are introduced to our set of characters who create the backbone of the story. Rob, (Jason Clarke) is a professional climber and commercial guide for an Australian touring company that specializes in Mt. Everest expeditions. Jon, (Michael Kelly), Doug, (John Hawkes), and Beck (Josh Brolin) are the three Americans going along for the ride, while Helen, (Emily Watson), Guy, (Sam Worthington), and Caroline (Elizabeth Debicki) are the company’s support team stationed at Everest Base Camp. Scott, (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is leading another expedition at the same time, decides to join up and share guiding responsibilities. Then there are the numerous supporting characters from an ensemble cast of Thomas M. Wright, Keira Knightley, Mia Goth, and Robin Wright. It’s a lot of characters to get through, but director Baltasar Kornakur does a solid job at giving each character a unique moment to shine within the first act.

After we know who’s who, the story really starts to take off and we are scuttled around from various characters as the events among the mountain unfold. There is a lot going on; some characters get drunk, others go blind or freeze to death. Surprisingly, skipping around from the different vantage points isn’t as disorienting as it seems, and the first half of the film moves along at a tight and exciting pace.

Things get messy in the film’s second half however, after much of the excitement has worn off and the audience is expecting a resolution that ties loose ends and brings all the characters into the same sort of thematic plane. Spoiler alert: It never happens. There is no crescendoing moment of truth here – the film never tries to take any of the building narratives from the first hour and turn it into something substantial. Instead, factual events are simply presented to us in an abrupt, matter-of-fact fashion that feels hallow and distant. Yes, things happen to our characters, but what does it all mean? What message is the story trying to tell us?

Not to say that Everest is void of emotion, (there are a number of tear-jerking scenes that evoke some powerful responses) but it never adds up to anything lasting by the film’s end. A hasty, underwritten third act is the final nail in the coffin that degrades a potentially great story into just a slightly-better-than-average one. Tragically, there are hints of  interesting plot points scattered throughout Everest that never really get developed: a budding rivalry between two climbers fizzles out early on, ideas about the commercialization of danger and thrill seeking never get off the ground, and commentary about journalism’s fascination with death and tragedy are kept in the background. By and large, Everest is still a solid film with some truly thrilling moments, but by the time the credits rolled, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the filmmakers might have only just scratched the surface of something much larger and inspiring.

Bottom Line: Boasting an incredible cast and gorgeous visuals, Everest is a fast-paced epic spectacle that is unfortunately slight on drama or lasting thematic material. 

“I’m king of the world!” – Yeah, we all know how this is going to end now.

Rating: 6/10 

Film Recipie: The Grey 2.0 + Australian accents 

 

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10 MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS 2015

2 Jan

Goodbye 2014 and hello to 2015.

 

Another great cinematic year has come and gone, and 2014 was one for the record books (you can check out my top 25 films of the year here). While we wait to see what film gets the Best Picture Oscar and who gets snubbed come February 22, lets take a look at some upcoming projects for 2015.

 

10 – Z For Zachariah 

Who’s in it – Margot Robbie, Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor. Directed By Craig Zobel.

Why? Zobel’s Compliance was one of the best micro-budget thrillers I had seen in a long time.  It looks like he is upping the ante here with some major A-list talent.

Release Date – Unknown for now, but I’ll be catching this at Sundance in late Jan

9 – STAR WARS EPISODE 7 

Who’s in it – All the original stars (Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill) along with an exciting batch of rising talent (Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega). Directed and written by JJ. Abrams.

Why? After the disappointing trilogy made up Episodes 1, 2 and 3, the pressure is on Abrams to revitalize the classic franchise and restore balance to the force (and our faith in big-budget franchises).  Besides, Hamill needs something to do with his career other than voice video games.

Release Date –  Dec 18 

 

8 – Black Mass 

Who’s in it – An ensemble cast of Johnny Depp, Juno Temple, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Sarsgaard, Sienna Miller, and Kevin Bacon. Directed by Scott Cooper.

Why? After Cooper’s terrific but terribly underrated Out Of The Furnace, I’m extremely curious to see how he handles this FBI crime novel adaptation with such a talented cast.

Release Date – an Oscar friendly Sept 18 

7 – While We Are Young / Mistress America 

Who’s in it – Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver / Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirk. Both films written and directed by Noah Baumbach.

Why? – Baumbach has two films in the pipeline for 2015, and they both look fantastic. While We Are Young received lots of praise after it’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last September, and Mistress America is slated for a Sundance Film Festival premiere.

Release Date – March 27 / no word yet on a theatrical release for Mistress America, but I’ll catch it at Sundance in late Jan.

 

6- Everest 

Who’s in it – Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright. Directed by Baltisar Kormakur.

Why? – The story about a group of mountain climbers becoming trapped on the world’s tallest peak during a snowstorm has me all sorts of excited. Plus, Jake Gyllenhaal.

Release Date – Sept 18 

 

5 – The Martian 

Who’s in it – Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Mara. Directed by Ridley Scott.

Why? – Besides the big-name cast and director, this adaptation about the colonization of mars could continue on the trail of smart Oscar-friendly sci-fi films like Gravity and Interstellar. Or it could be a total flop like The Counselor or Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Release Date – Nov 25

4 – The Revenant

Who’s in it – Leo Dicaprio, Tom Hardy. Directed by Alejandro Inarritu.

Why? Birdman showed that Inarritu could directed something in another genre besides the super-serious drama, and this western thriller will surely showcase the talent of two of today’s biggest actors.

Release Date –  Dec 25 

3 – The Hateful 8 

Who’s in it – Samuel Jackson (of course), Channing Tatum, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Zoe Bell, Bruce Dern. Directed by Quientin Tarintino.

Why? –  Besides being one of the most recognizable auteurs among non-cinephiles, Tarantino is one of those directors that just seems to get better with age. I’m curious to see how he tackles a more traditional western post-Django Unchained.

Release Date – Nov 13 

2  – Knight of Cups 

Who’s in it – Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Cate Blanchett. Directed by Terrence Malick.

Why? Terrence Malick’s epic made my list last year only to be shelved for a Berlin Film Festival premiere in 2015. A teaser trailer shows Malick’s typical visual style paired with an eccentric cast and wild party tone reminiscent of Spring Breakers. Hopefully, it will be worth the extra wait.

Release Date  – Unknown for now but likely to have an awards run Late October or November

 

1 – Silence 

Who’s in it – Adam Driver (again!!), Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson. Directed by Martin Scorsese.

Why? – Scorsese’s adaptation of a Japanese novel about Christian priests enduring persecution overseas is sure to be one of his most personal and controversial films. And this is from the guy who directed Willem Dafoe as Jesus.

Release Date – Unknown, but likely sometime in November 

 

So there ya go. Good stuff on the horizon. What upcoming films are YOU most excited to see?