1. What’s it about?
The movie is a dramatization of the famous 1996 disaster on Mount Everest. It has already been chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s best-selling Into Thin Air, the IMAX movie, and numerous documentaries and articles.
The movie mostly focuses on mountain guide Rob Hall, played by Jason Clarke, and client Beck Weathers, played by Josh Brolin. It also features Keira Knightley as Hall’s pregnant wife, Jake Gyllenhaal as rival mountain guide Scott Fischer, Emily Watson as the base-camp manager, and Michael Kelly as Krakauer.
2. What’s it rated? Why?
The MPAA gave it a PG-13 for “intense peril and disturbing images”. Obviously, it’s about a doomed expedition up Everest, so you know going in that it’s going to end badly for some of the characters. (And, if you’re among the over 10 million people who read Krakauer’s book, you even know exactly who is going to die.) There’s no bad language, no nudity, and no sex.
3. Is there anything for parents to be worried about?
Several characters die by either freezing to death or falling off cliffs that appear to be thousands of feet high. (Given the popularity of Krakauer’s book, I don’t really think that’s a spoiler.) There’s no gore, but it still might be disturbing for younger viewers to watch people slowly, and rather horribly, die. I probably won’t take my younger son, even if he shows interest in it.
4. Will my kids like it?
Younger kids most likely won’t. In addition to the note above, it’s a pretty slow drama. Unless your kids are into mountain climbing and want to see a worst-case scenario, they are probably better movies to take them to than this. Older teens might find it entertaining, however.
5. Will I like it?
It’s always hard to do a movie where most, if not everyone, going in knows exactly what’s going to happen. Particularly talented directors can pull it off–TItanic being perhaps the best example–while others are less successful. Unfortunately, this falls into that category. The real trick is to make the audience care about the characters. It was a big expedition, and they don’t really do a good job of establishing the characters beyond Hall, Beck, and Jan (Hall’s wife). There are a few that it was clear we were supposed to care about, but they never really gave me a reason. Several characters, including those played by Watson and Kelly, were added to the film late, and it showed.
Cinematically, though, the movie is gorgeous. Much of the film was actually shot in Nepal and at the Everest Base Camp, although most of the climbing sequences were shot either in Italy or on sound stages.
6. Is it worth 3D?
I’m pretty sure this isn’t even an option; as far as I can tell, the movie is only being released in 3D. While some of the bigger panoramas of the mountain were cool in 3D, much of the movie really focuses on close-up shots of the characters, and that wasn’t helped in the slightest by being 3D. Honestly, if the option to see it in 2D existed I probably would have done it.
7. Is it worth IMAX?
I saw the movie in a large screen XD theater, and while I could have done without the 3D I am glad I saw it on the biggest screen that was reasonably close to my house. (I didn’t want to drive 30+ miles to the nearest IMAX.) I do think, however, that it probably is worth seeing on IMAX if you can make that work.
8. When’s a good time for a bathroom break?
There’s an extended sequence after everyone arrives at Base Camp before they begin the summit attempt, and you can slip out for a few minutes anytime during that. Don’t leave once they start up the mountain, though, or you’ll definitely miss something important.