‘Everest’ review: The feel-bad movie of the year

Jake Gyllenhaal (Scott Fischer), Jason Clarke (Rob Hall) and Josh Brolin (Beck Weathers) in Everest | Everest review
Jake Gyllenhaal (Scott Fischer), Jason Clarke (Rob Hall) and Josh Brolin (Beck Weathers) in Everest

If The Martian was the optimistic, feel-good movie of the year celebrating the tenacity of mankind, Everest is the exact opposite, showing that the elements do what they want, no matter what man wills, and woe betide whomsoever dareth challenge Nature!

I knew, vaguely, that the movie was based on a true Everest expedition that went wrong in 1996; but beyond that, I had no inkling of what it was about. I thought “went wrong” meant a near-death experience that they all escaped from with their lives intact and a whole new fear and respect for Nature. Had I known that so many important characters would die in the movie, I would not have seen it. I would have wiki-ed the synopsis and the true story, but I would not have put myself through this horrible experience.

It’s not that I don’t watch tragedies, though I do watch much fewer of them than movies with happier endings. I just like to go into them *knowing* they were tragedies, so I’m well prepared when the gut punch comes.

As it was, I went for the cast, which included Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Martin Henderson, Keira Knightley and Jake Gyllenhaal — all decent actors, and some of whom I like watching. And also because I honestly thought it would be a “they lived to tell the tale” kind of story. I like those, because they lived to tell the tale.

I mean, the movie itself wasn’t bad. It had such realistic settings that half the time, I was wondering if they actually shot it on Mount Everest, and dismissing it because they couldn’t possibly have. (The altitude would have made it difficult to breathe, much less shoot a film.) It was just so unexpectedly tragic (for me) that it put me in a funk.

Which is all my own fault. Argh! I’ll never watch a film without doing proper research again!