Critics have not been kind in their assessment of upcoming 2015 film Everest, which appeared last week at the Venice Film festival. The movie's release date is set for September 18.
Based on the real-life 1996 disaster that killed eight climbers, Everest features a star-studded cast. Many critics seem to agree that the film has trouble handling so many stars.
IndieWire's Eric Kohn pointed out that apart from main players most of the cast have only one or two lines of dialogue. Even heavy-hitter Jake Gyllenhaal seems to fade into the background.
The focus primarily falls on Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), the level-headed leader of an expedition company specializing in guiding amateur climbers to the Mt. Everest summit. His more daring rival Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) runs a similar operation. Suffice to say, the mountain isn't big enough for both men.
Other climbers include obnoxiously-cocky Texan named Weathers (Josh Brolin), and energetic businesswoman Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) who already conquered six of the Seven Summits. Another notable character is Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), a meek Seattle mailman who failed his first attempt to reach the Everest summit.
Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) is a big-cheese journalist who joins Hall's group. The fact he was originally supposed to climb with Fischer provides a source of tension between Rob and Scott. This conflict quickly dissipates when both camps are forced to work together later on.
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw expressed annoyance that the film did not go too deeply into the rivalry between the two tour operators. Bradshaw also believed that stronger characters were needed in a sea of "moderately engaging" cameos.
More unfortunate is the film's treatment of eleven actual Sherpas, who were recruited to star in the film. Indigenous to the area, the ethnic group is world-renowned for their services as guides and porters on Everest. The film could have added a little more exposure of local customs and culture. Instead, the Sherpas are relegated to the backdrop.
While Everest seems to fall flat on characterization, it still engages viewers with awe-inspiring scenic shots that translate well to IMAX. Even so, audiences never get the opportunity to become emotionally invested in the characters as they are killed off one-by-one.
Upon release, the movie will see a wide release in movie theaters throughout the United States and Canada. Everest was directed by Baltasar Kormakur, whose credits include Contraband and 2 Guns.