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Everest (Blu-ray Review)

Everest (Blu-ray Review)Generally speaking these types of survival films don’t really interest me.  But considering the amount of next level talent involved such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley, and Jason Clarke I figured that it might be worth checking out.  And I’m really glad that I did!  When I saw this movie in the theaters the nearest option was to see it in 3D.  Now, I’m not the biggest fan of 3D so I wasn’t exactly stoked to see it this way.  But I gotta say, the 3D experience for this film is WELL worth it!  They take advantage of the wide sweeping shots from the climbers perspective that provides a captivating visual experience.  Though some scenes do rely on CGI to fill out a few spots, it’s done sparingly and never takes you out of the moment.  The 3D gives you so much more depth and scope that you wouldn’t quite get in the standard format.

Everest (Blu-ray Review)

 

Film
This is a performance based film. By that I mean that the actors are carrying and pulling the story along much like the characters they portray as they climb the mountain.  But that’s not to say that this is a slow dirge of a film.  The pacing is quite brisk and almost every character has their own personal reason for risking their lives for the sake of a great story.  To the point where despite the fact that I would NEVER conceive of climbing Everest, I still get why these people felt they HAD to do this.  For some of them it’s just to prove something to themselves.  But for others, it’s a journey to show the ones they love that sometimes the impossible IS in fact possible.

The film is based on true events and follows the story of Rob Hall, played by Jason Clarke, who is the co-owner of a commercial expedition tour called “Adventure Consultants.”  It is set in the mid-nineties and at this point there are established tour companies that attempt to guide small groups to the summit of Mount Everest.  I say attempt because most usually end up having to be taken back down due to severe medical problems or intense weather.  Even though there are ropes and ladders set up, there are still lethal conditions such as below freezing temperatures, a constantly shifting landscape to the point of avalanche, bottomless crevasses, and air so thin you need dozens of Oxygen tanks just to exist, much less climb. There is a scene in the trailer where the character Rob is briefing his team/costumers about the dangers of the expedition.  He says that at a certain point near the summit our bodies will literally be dying.  Human beings are not made to survive at the cruising altitude of a 747 Airplane.

The story and concept of the film are pretty simple and straight forward, so it’s difficult to talk about it without spoiling anything.  Unlike similar survival films, such as Alive, this one focuses more on the personal interactions between each character.  So much so, that they actually develop a few characters and give them story arcs to the point where you initially might write them off as just being a jerks, but they then show you that these people are more then just caricatures of how someone acts in these situations.

As I said in my film review, they take great pains to make sure that when you watch this movie you actually FEEL like you’re there with them.  Everything from the traditional Nepalese and classic 90’s music to the detailed make up effects that actually made me a little nauseous!  There is a scene where one character falls asleep and gets frost bite on his hands.  Watching his performance combined with the practical effects really gives you a sense of just how horrific that would feel!  There were a few things, however seemed a littler generic to me and those were the accents and cultural depictions of each characters background.  The Texas guy sounds like a gunslinger from a spaghetti western, the Australians sound like Crocodile Dundee and the Russians sip on vodka while bragging about how they don’t need as much gear and oxygen as everyone else.  But those moments aren’t so glaring that they ruin the experience.
Everest (Blu-ray Review)

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  Crisp and clear which is important in a situation where there’s snow storms blowin’ all over the place.

Depth:  This is where the 3D really shines.  The depth is pretty great and impressive.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid and consistent.

Color Reproduction:  High quality colors.  The blues in particular are very rich.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent.  Close-ups provide the real look at detail on facial features.

Noise/Artifacts:  All good.

Everest (Blu-ray Review)

Audio

Audio Format(s): English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  Very good.  Good balance between the dialogue and the storm sounds.

Low Frequency Extension:  Good and booming.

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clear and crisp.

Everest (Blu-ray Review)

Extras

  • Race to the summit: the making of Everest.
  • Learning to climb: the actors journey – this featurertte goes deeper into he specific training that the actors needed in order to safely film in the mountains.
  • A mountain of work – this explains how through the use of digital and practical effects that they were able to recreate the summit of Everest.
  • Aspiring to authenticity – interviews with the real life survivors and their loved ones explain how the actors took great pains to accurately and respectively portray their characters.
  • Feature commentary with director Baltasar Komakur.

Everest (Blu-ray Review)

Summary
Everest truly stands out amongst the countless number of survival movies where the characters usually only serve as excuses to create massive CGI spectacles.  Here they really take the time to get you invested in the backstories of each person.  Though this film is something of a cautionary tale, it’s meant to remind us that sometimes it’s worth risking your life for a dream.

Everest is available on Blu-ray & DVD Tuesday, January 19th.

Everest (Blu-ray Review)
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Writer, Musician, Composer, Singer and Dancer. To sum up: I like to get jiggy with it!

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