Those looking for a emotionally-involving piece of storytelling might be left a bit cold by the Baltasar Kormákur-directed film. Everest commendably de-emphasizes the overheated melodrama that so often accompanies disaster films. On the plus side, William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy's screenplay favors realistic scenarios over genre cliches. The downside is that we never truly get inside the characters' heads. This is the story of a group of mountain climbers willing to risk everything in order to reach the summit of the world's highest peak. The drama rises out of clashes between two commercial mountineering businesses: Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) leads Adventure Consultants, while Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) heads up Mountain Madness.
As a series of disastrous events piles up, some natural (most significantly, a punishing blizzard) and some human-caused (a lack of necessary guide ropes at crucial spots along the ascent), it's worth keeping in mind these are real people being portrayed. The loss of human life at Everest on May 11, 1996 was significant and the filmmakers seem to be conscious of treating these characters with respect. As with any dramatization of true events, not everyone will agree with the results. Jon Krakauer (portrayed in the film by Michael Kelly) is a journalist and surviving member of the ill-fated expedition. His book, Into Thin Air, served as the foundation for a TV movie but not Everest. He has expressed displeasure with the way Everest tells aspects of the story.
But whatever nitpicking various parties might do, director Kormákur and company were not made a documentary here and certain liberties where inevitably taken. Josh Brolin portrays expedition survivor Beck Weathers, who is presented as so uncompromisingly arrogant that he never comes off as particularly sympathetic. The real Weathers has also expressed some misgiving with these choices. Regardless of what one might say, it was a bold move to avoid making any of these men and women (Torchwood's Naoko Mori delivers a dignified performance as climber Yasuko Namba) into a traditional "movie" hero. While the climbing sequences are breathtaking in their realism and sheer white-knuckle terror (non-mountaineers might wonder why anyone would subject themselves to such dangers), as a character-based drama Everest is ultimately rendered a bit neutral.
As for supplements, director Baltasar Kormákur offers an in-depth audio commentary track (excellent for anyone left craving insights into how the film's technical feats were achieved). Less satisfactory is a series of four relatively brief featurettes (totaling just under a half hour) that scratches the surface of the making of the film and the events that inspired it.
The 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack also includes 2D Blu-ray, standard DVD, and Digital HD copies of Everest.