Saturday, January 23, 2016

Everest 3D Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Inspired by the incredible events surrounding an attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival. Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw, Brokeback Mountain), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game, Pirates of the Caribbean), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby), Josh Brolin (Sicario, No Country for Old Men), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, The Sessions), Robin Wright (“House of Cards,” Forrest Gump), Michael Kelly (“House of Cards,” Viral), Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans) and Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything, Breaking the Waves) star in a thrilling and harrowing battle against the overwhelming power of nature.
Film (4 out of 5 stars)
The film begins with a historical reminder that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to summit Everest in 1953.  For the preceding 40 years, when only professional climbers attempted the feat, 1 in 4 died.  In 1992 Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) pioneered the concept of commercial guiding for amateur climbers.  He founded Adventure Consultants and successfully led 19 clients to the summit.

In 1996, Rob Hall lead a team up the mountain.   His wife Jan (Keira Knightley) is pregnant with their first child so she remains at home.  In addition to a seasoned crew, Hall is accompanied on this expedition by Postman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), Texas Doctor Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), Journalist Lou Kasischke (Mark Derwin), and avid climber Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori).  Yasuko has completed 6 of the 7 summits and is excited to finish the list.   The backbone of the team is basecamp manager Helen Wilton (Emily Watson) who keeps everything running smoothly.  The climber’s memorials are a dramatic reminder that things can and do go wrong and the mountain can be unforgiving. Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal) climbs with a team of his own.

Before they get started, Rob tells the adventurers that human beings aren’t meant to function at the flying altitude of a 747.  You don’t arrive at Everest and make the summit in a day.  The climbers will spend a month making smaller acclimatizing treks before they attempt to reach the top.  With only a two week window of favorable weather, base camp is crowded with climbers.
Everest is inspired by the true events of a specific climb when two teams were tested by the harsh elements, unexpected weather changes and gargantuan obstacles.  As the climbers head for the summit they pass the frozen bodies of climbers that came before them but never made it back down.   The mental and physical rigors seem insurmountable as they all strive to put a finger on the highest peak.

The filmmakers have done an amazing job of mixing computer generated images, sound stage and location shots into one cohesive story.  Everything about this film feels completely authentic.  The story is well written and you get to know each character well enough to care that they make it back down the mountain.  Every actor gives a great performance and is believable in their roles.  They were obviously well trained and spent some time bonding while freezing in the snow. The beauty of the mountain and the view from the top is striking in 2D and is certainly remarkable in 3D which also helps the viewer feel the height of the crevasses and the scale of the mountain.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
Everest is presented on 2D and 3D Blu-ray (and DVD) in a widescreen 2.40:1 ratio courtesy of Universal.  The fine detail is noticeable in the weather worn faces, the rock and the snow itself on the mountain.  Being able to see the breath of the actors helps to sell the authenticity but you can even see the breath change at different temperatures.  This is certainly film that will make the viewer grab a blanket.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Everest’s Atmos Dolby True HD sound is impressive.  You can hear the wind rip through the air and feel the weight of the avalanches. Dialogue is intelligible when spoken down at base camp or screamed over the sound of a storm.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray disc contains the following special features:      
  • Race to the Summit: The Making of Everest (10:57) – Cast and crew discuss locations, the great concern for authenticity and doing the story justice. Working in Nepal posed special difficulties in filmmaking but the payoff was great.
  • Learning to Climb (Blu-ray exclusive 4:50) – The cast talks about learning to use their gear, altitude simulation and intense training.
  • A Mountain of Work: Recreating Everest (Blu-ray exclusive 5:12) – A look at detailed set that had to double for parts of Everest and the mixture of visual effects and location shots.
  • Aspiring to Authenticity: The Real Story (6:45) - The Director and cast discuss the responsibility to tell an authentic story. Rob’s wife and base camp manager talk about what kind of man he was on and off the mountain. The real Beck is interviewed as well and emotionally talks about the experience.
  • Feature Commentary – Director Baltasar Kormakur provides feature length audio commentary with technical information from a director’s point of view. Because of his thick accent, you definitely have to pay attention to make sure you catch every word.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
The Day After Tomorrow has always been my favorite weather related disaster film. When I want a bit of cold weather action, I will now have a Gyllenhaal double feature.  The film looks and sounds great on 2D and 3D Blu-ray. Eight actors got their names on the cover but every person on or near the mountain is authentic. Even if you are not an adventure junkie, you’ll appreciate the stunning visuals.

Order your copy today!

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