*NEW* EVEREST REVIEW *NEW*

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This movie made me feel like I was climbing Everest. Exhausting, tough and an instant regret.

If NOT for its impressive ensemble, I don’t think this would have made the big screen.

A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.

The opening certainly showed promise. It may have been slow burning but it was watchable as the gang ascended upon the monstrous mountain. I couldn’t believe the stars that popped up in this. The only problem is that you soon forgot them by the next frame.

Jason Clarke managed to make a memorable impression as the ultra sincere mountaineer Rob Hall. He had good chemistry with Keira Knightley. Shame that Knightley took the back seat in this arduous affair. She did her best with the minute role of the pregnant spouse and delivered a convincing accent.

Salvatore Totino’s cinematography was fantastic to look at as the crew passed through each base. Ascending further and further. The trivia and facts about the side effects upon reaching certain altitudes made for crazy but interesting stuff. BUT it also made me question why people do it in the first place.

However after 60 minutes of more statistics, more cliched banter and weak back stories (Doug’s postman on Everest story line being a particular highlight), my eyes began to wonder.

The main problem for me was that despite the cast’s best efforts, they were having to deal with such unmemorable characters. I understand that it’s hard to stray from the source material and I can respect Kormakur’s attempt to implore more realism BUT for a two hour feature you need more depth and interest.

The only other character I could remember after Rob was Beck. The Texan businessman played to perfection by Josh Brolin. BUT that was also down to the miraculous events that unfolded with him.

When the storm finally hit, a gigantic black cloud spewing hail and arctic winds, I was hooked. It was tense and nail biting. I wouldn’t know what to do in that situation. Nature being the true killer. BUT I am glad I didn’t invest in 3D. It wouldn’t have added anything to the experience.

After that cloud sequence, it became incredibly difficult to see anything. It was grainy and dark which certainly heightened the tension in some scenes. Especially as Beck battled to see through the blistering arctic conditions with his failing eyes BUT generally it was disorienting.

However, in between the volatile storm episodes, there wasn’t much else. You also started to pick out the errors. I was a little unsure about Kormakur’s intentions. What was he actually trying to say? This wasn’t a proper survival story. A lot of lives were lost.

The commentary on the competitive nature of guide tours impacting on deadlines was expertly personified in Jake Gyllenhaal’s hippie climbing instructor. It was a shame that the character was nothingy and soon got on my nerves.

BUT it didn’t excuse the fact that Hall ignored protocols that he had enforced. He delayed the climb down when he was told by his team about the storm. If anything, Everest showed how incompetent these guide tours really are and that the only people who climb it are idiots with death wishes and too much money.

There were some touching scenes BUT they were soon bogged down by monotonous talking that was tragically repetitive and hammy scenes that just came off unintentionally comical. I had to laugh at the fact that each character had to remove their masks just so the audience knew who they were. Even when they shouted each other’s name repetitively, I still struggled to remember which actor was playing who.

The helicopter sequence was tense and offered a little more in the vein of Vertical Limit. Suspense, tension, shame there wasn’t more of it. Martin Henderson, Sam Worthington and Emily Watson were wasted in their stocky roles. Disappointing.

The end credits were so downbeat and nihilistic that I actually wondered why they even bothered to make this movie in the first place.

A shambolic affair. For those familiar with the story and those who aren’t, stick with the book. I wasn’t expecting a big dumb blockbuster. I was prepared for a challenging drama of survival. Challenging was certainly right. Tragically, it offered little for me.

2/5

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THE DEVIL’S KNOT REVIEW

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Knot for me, I’m afraid. What? Bad punnery aside, a star studded cast do their utmost to uplift an initially shocking case that leads nowhere and if not for the studded cast, should have been put on a crime channel as an one hour documentary.

Harsh but true. A slow burning opening leads to an inevitable if shocking murder as, of course, this is based on a true story. The initial murder reveal is haunting and suspenseful. It would be tough for anyone not to imagine that situation in which a loved one, especially a child goes missing. The build up to the event and the aftermath with the search parties and Witherspoon’s sheer fear is very good and very well acted.

However after the murder happens and the initial investigation subsides, it all fizzles out. The first hour is quite watchable, if a little long toothed. Witherspoon plays the manic mother to perfection which does allow for a couple of sad moments. Alessandro Nivola (Face/Off) plays her suspicious husband very well. His erratic behaviour does ponder questions.

The surprise turn for me was Colin Firth as Ron Lax. His southern drawl was nailed to perfection and he applied his charisma yet again to a character you couldn’t stop watching. The only problem is that after the film has finished, you realise Lax didn’t really do anything. Only putting the doubt in a literal witch hunt as the police go out of their way to arrest three lads suspected of dealing in black magic and participating in a cult. Kevin Durand (LOST), for me, played nothing more than a stereotype of a typical southern yokel. Terrible and a waste of a good supporting actor.

This was only the beginning, as the case continued to drag on and all the red herrings were played, it just seemed to go nowhere. The court case scenes that were supposed to be questioning and suspenseful, came off drawn out and long winded. Old Bill Compton himself, Stephen Moyer (True Blood) was bound to play the sly, slick toothed southern prosecutor but it took too long for him to get going. It seemed he and Martin Henderson (The Ring) for a good portion looked more like overacting extras with exaggerated face pulling and exasperated sighs. Bruce Greenwood (The rebooted Star Trek franchise) played the bitter and biased judge with aplomb, even if anyone could have played that part.

And that’s another problem. For most of these parts, anyone could have played them. Elias Koteas (The Haunting in Connecticut), Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spiderman 2), Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) and Michael Gladis (Mad Men) all pop up in this and do their utmost to uplift stocky characters that seemed to have been thrown in to stretch the film’s questionable running length. The finale was also so abrupt and open that I couldn’t help but feel what was the point of it all?

Reese Witherspoon’s character, who you originally felt sorry for, soon acts out of character and becomes a southern simpleton by the end, who is left sitting on the sidelines. Firth with his chiselled drawl complains about the system but again is only sitting from the sidelines and doesn’t really take any proper action. His back story with his wife felt nothing more than filler. Mireille Enos’ (World War Z) character came off so hammy and laughable that it was tough to take her shady character seriously. Her motives were so questionable and double bluffed that I couldn’t tell what was true nor did I care.

The only actor that may come out of this unscathed was James Hamrick. One to watch. His shady suspect who plays on aggravating the misconstrued public did create a little bit of intrigue that this film desperately needed after such a good opening. Hamrick had enough charisma to leave an impression on a subdued supporting role. But to what avail . . .

Now it is truly heart breaking what happened to those three boys that fateful day and the fact that it was never officially solved, despite it being clear that the police doctored findings, fabricated results and withheld crucial evidence and let the real suspects disappear. It is shocking that three suspects, whose only real crime was being a lover of a particular strange field, were innocently incarcerated for years. To be honest, it left everything too open, which is daunting as life can be that horrific. BUT as a film, I seek more closure and the fact the real suspect did get caught further down the line just irritated me.

We didn’t even get to see the arrest or capture just five minutes of credits explaining everything. In all fairness, some events surprised, others did not. To be honest, if you are interested in this, I would suggest watching the first hour then skip to the end credits. However, I would suggest scrapping this altogether and investing in Prisoners, instead. 2/5 for me.

Currently ranks 147 out of 186!