True life, mountain, disaster, boom, fin. Let's be honest as a movie there's not a lot to this - it's a slight disaster flick. However, being based on a true life event, it gives the film room and license to not force stupid villains into doing villainous things halfway up a mountain, or have fantastical feats of superhuman and gravity defying strength/speed/stamina/etc. In fact, I found it quite refreshing that this was an honest to goodness man vs ‘real’ nature type of flick.
Don't get me wrong, there's not exactly huge amounts of character development going on - so many characters, so little time, no-one really gets any real depth. There's a really pointed question asked by the journalist in the film "why do you climb like this?" and none of the characters give an answer. And the film doesn't either - we don't get a sense of why these people are doing this because to the casual viewer this looks like hell on earth and not once do we get a sense of these characters actually enjoying themselves!!!
But, the film does a really good job of getting you into what climbing this mountain actually is - base camp, multiple smaller ascents to acclimatise. And as a purely cinematic exercise, I'll be honest, I was on the edge of my seat. It's fantastically put together, shot incredibly well with amazing fx that actually places you on the mountain. True, you can't get away from the odd time you have no idea which climbers which thanks to the all wearing huge coats and having their faces covered, but as a film, I thought this was great.
Transfer-wise, the Atmos soundtrack is the stunner here. I was totally immersed in sound all the way through, from the slight rustle of tents and the odd gust of wind during the opening hour, to the total bombardment of wind and snow during the storm. Helicopter blades join in the fun as cool spot effects, but on the whole this was a stunner - bags of LFE, a totally immersive experience, job well and truly done. The picture quality whilst being good and sometimes great actually never quite reached reference level for me. Lots of detail was on show, but in quite a few instances, it just didn't have that pin sharp level of detail the best transfers have. Colours also seemed a bit muted, but granted that could be by design but the colours on those stupid pants climbers insist on wearing never really popped. Still a really nice picture mind. I didn't bother with the extras but may see if there's anything about the real life incident and people on the disc.
Summary - not huge amounts of character depth but it's a really well put together cinematic experience in terms of spectacle and placing you on that mountain at that time. Stunning soundtrack and really nice picture mean this is an easy recommendation if these kind of flicks are your bag.