Tag Archives: Jason Clarke

Ups & Downs

A herd of actors recreates epic ’90s mountaineering disaster

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Everest

Starring Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley & Robin Wright

Directed by Baltasar Kormákur

PG-13

 

Why climb the world’s highest mountain?

“Because it’s there!” shout members of a group about to head to the top of Mt. Everest in this adventure-drama based on a true story from 1996.

It’s there, all right—all 29,000-and-then-some feet of it, rising into the sky like a giant prehistoric sentinel of rock, ice and snow on the border of China and Nepal. Director Baltasar Kormákur’s film begins with expedition leader Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), his team and his clients converging at the base of the Himalayas to prepare for their trek to the summit.

“It’s not called the death zone for noting,” Hall, a veteran New Zealand mountaineer, warns his climbers-to-be, citing the perils they will face—jet stream winds, altitude sickness, sub-freezing temps, oxygen deprivation, snowstorms, avalanches, icefalls.

Everest

Jake Gyllenhaal

By the mid-1990s, the commercialization of Mt. Everest had created some major traffic jams on the slopes. As guides such as Hall returned season after season to lead paying customers toward the heavens, thousands were trekking where, just decades before, only a relative few had ever dared.

But the monumental mountain remained a far cry from an amusement park. You could still die up there.

Everest

Josh Brolin

A monstrous storm moves in, trapping the climbers. Who’ll survive, and who won’t? It becomes an epic drama of humans facing ancient, immutable forces of nature. Sometimes it looks spectacular, but too often the emotions of Everest feel forced and hokey, and much of the time there’s just too much going on, and too many people jostling around.

For an adventure movie, it doesn’t have near enough action, and when things do get going, the scenes of peril and danger don’t have the breathtaking, gut-wrenching wallop you’d expect from a movie about people pitting themselves against the highest peak on the planet, at inhospitable altitudes where airplanes fly, helicopters falter, eyeballs can explode and bodies fall into places where they’ll never be recovered.

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Robin Wright

Everest is a modern throwback to classic disaster movies of the 1970s, when a gaggle of actors would be plunked into collapsing cities, raging infernos, sinking ships or doomed airplanes. Here the populous cast includes Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael (House of Cards) Kelly, Jason Hawkes, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright, Elizabeth (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) Debicki and others, all in roles based on real people, headed up, staying below or waiting anxiously on the other side of the world when things take a turn from bad to worse.

But there’s one star in Everest that tops them all, and that’s Mt. Everest itself. Even though some of the scenes were filmed elsewhere, you’d never know it, and the world’s most iconic peak still has the power to awe, inspire and draw people to risk, and sometimes lose, their lives.

Why would anyone want to do it? And why bother trying to explain, anyway? In any discussion, as one character puts it, “the last word always belongs to the mountain.” In Everest, and the tragically true tale behind it, indeed it does.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Robo Reboot

New ‘Terminator’ bangs, bams, crams and slams across the years

Emilia Clark, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jai Courtney

Terminator Genysis

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney and Jason Clarke

Directed by Alan Taylor

PG-13

“I’ll be back,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg promised in the original Terminator, back in 1984. And now Ah-nold, THE Terminator, is indeed back, and he’s the biggest, baddest and best thing in the new reboot of the iconic sci-fi franchise.

That Terminator envisioned a near future in a ruined, post-apocalyptic world run by artificially intelligent machines battled by a hearty group of human resistance fighters. Schwarzenegger was cast in his first blockbuster role as a virtually unstoppable assassin “terminator” sent back in time to kill the mother of the child who would grow up to be John Conner, the fiery leader of the resistance, before he was conceived, ensuring the opposition could never take root.

Three sequels and a TV spinoff played off that premise. And now, 31 years later, Terminator Genysis backs up and takes another run at it.

Emilia Clarke

This time around, rebel leader John Conner (Jason Clarke) zaps his young protégé Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) into the past to intercept and destroy the terminator that’s already there, programmed to kill his mother. British actress Emilia Clarke (dragon mistress Daenerys Taegaryen in TV’s Game of Thrones) does a commendable job as the young firebrand Sarah Connor. But the big bang here is the return of the former two-term governor of California, with a now-familiar terminator twist: Schwarzenegger’s cyborg is Sarah’s guardian, not her killer, protecting her from other terminators.

Characters meet up with themselves coming and going across the decades, in overlapping timelines. At one point, Schwarzenegger’s terminator battles the younger version of himself, thanks to modern-day special effects, right out of a scene from the first movie. Oscar-winning J.K. Simmons plays a police detective who remembers the characters from one of their previous eras.

As they zip back and forth through time, our heroes outrun fireballs, shoot and blast shape-shifting, liquid-silver pursuers, throw around phrases like “mimetic polyalloy” and “decay algorithms,” try to shut down a “cloud”-like operating system that will eventually quash all living things, and eventually dangle over the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge in a hijacked school bus.

Left to right: Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor and Jai Courtney plays Kyle Reese in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

It’s all very complicated and convoluted, a muddled sci-fi haystack of past, present and future that looks even denser and darker—as many movies do—in 3-D. Thank goodness the characters seem to know what they’re doing and where they’re going, because not only did I get lost, I lost my patience trying to sort through all the bangs, bams, crams and slams—and the echoes and clangs of previous Terminator movies ringing in my ears and through the years.

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator in Terminator Genisys from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

For all its motion and commotion, however, nothing can compete with Schwarzenegger’s iconic star power, even when he’s standing still and not saying a word. The 67-year-old actor seems to be having a ball back in the swing and stride of his venerable trademark character. There’s even a running joke about the mileage on his terminator’s odometer. “I’m old, not obsolete,” he says.

Too bad the rest of this time-crunching, overstuffed, underwhelming Terminator installment doesn’t quite feel like it’s aged nearly so gracefully.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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