Everest is out this week. The good news is that Icelandic mad-genius Baltasar Kormákure (The Deep, 101 Reykjavik) directs, it has shitloads of very talented actors on the rope, and it's based on a harrowing and tragic true story many of us mountain dwellers already know.
No fewer than five entire books have been written about the terrible disaster Everest is based on, including the mega-best-seller Into Thin Air.
This makes for tricky filmmaking, partly because so many of us know how it ends, but also because there were a huge number of characters on the mountain that day, each with a story worth telling.
As such, director Kormákure is forced to juggle two handfuls of key characters while simultaneously keeping the narrative slack pulled taut.
And for the most part he succeeds, especially with visuals and pace. His human characters may not be fleshed out to their full potential but the mountain certainly is.
Everest itself is the hero of the picture, or anti-hero as it may be. She's a frozen, unforgiving vertical puzzle that will kill your brain cells with elevation as you're struggling to figure her out. And that is in perfect weather, when the storm of the year rolls in shit gets hairy fast.
This is not Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger, though there are superhero feats of human strength, endurance and sacrifice. Everest is menacing and tragic, intimate yet cold — not typical Hollywood fare — but does capture the No. 1 rule of the game: the mountain always wins.
Everest opens Friday and the 3D is the way to go. Side note: anyone wishing there was more of the Anatoli Boukreev character in the film should go to Armchair Books and order The Climb. It's a good companion/rebuttal to Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air.
Also opening, and a bit less harrowing, The Intern stars Robert DeNiro as a 70-year-old who shuns retirement and instead interns at the office of a successful fashion website executive played by Anne Hathaway.
The premise has promise (Trading Places meets The Office!) and it is nice to see a film unafraid to aim for older and female audiences, but at two hours one-minute long the comedy drags and so does the drama because there is not a lot at stake for anyone, and no real antagonist.
The talent and chemistry of Hathaway and DeNiro salvage things though and it's all very nice and warm. This is a good movie for people who don't see a lot of movies.
For the kidlets, Hotel Transylvania 2 also opens this week (2D and 3D) with no pre-screenings so the trailer and cast is all we have to go on. Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, Selena Gomez and freakin' Mel Brooks star, and it's directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.
I don't know if that is a dude or a chick but he/she directed the first Hotel Transylvania which I thought sucked. It made almost $150 million though. How many lifetimes would it take at your current job to hit that?
Also opening, The Perfect Guy. Guess what? He's not perfect at all and the rest of the movie is equally lacking in suspense. Decent acting from both Michael Ealy and Sanaa Lathan is the highlight in an otherwise low-rent thriller.
Speaking of renting, the legal download of the week is Turbo Kid, a dreamily B-grade hybrid of Road Warrior and Rad. Set in an ominous future of 1997, this one is a post-modern take on the post-apocalypse with a few truckloads of nostalgia and gore tossed in the mix. Basically, it's amazing — and Canadian!
When he's not reading superhero comic books, The Kid (Munro Chambers) rides a Norco Spitfire BMX through a nuclear-winter wasteland scavenging cool stuff from the '80s and staying out of trouble. But when his new love interest Apple (Laurence Leboeuf — killing it) is kidnapped by the emperor warlord Zeus (Michael Ironside) a new hero must arise, power glove and all.
It's like your favourite Saturday morning cartoon on drugs. Good drugs though, ones from the future that actually make you better for having taken them.
Fitting firmly alongside Canadian cousin Hobo With A Shotgun and Internet short Kung Fury in the emerging '80sploitation genre, The Turbo Kid transcends mere homage and has more vitality and love splattered throughout than most films with 100 times the budget.
French Canadian directors RKSS go top shelf with this one and anyone who truly loves movies will appreciate this masterpiece.
It's also another example of the ongoing success of crowd-funding niche films and the viability of direct distribution with a limited theatrical run. The times they continue a changin'.