Monday, September 14, 2015

Into thin Everest

I'm going to a media screening of Everest tonight, so instead of writing a reaction piece after seeing it, I thought I'd write this piece leading in to it. (That's also partly because I have the free time today, but do not expect to have it tomorrow.) If you want to know my thoughts on the film, I'll have a link to my review up as soon as it posts.

You see, for the purposes of my blog, I'm less interested in how good it will be (and the director, Baltasar Kormakur, gives me certain doubts) than the process that went into naming it. It wouldn't be The Audient, after all, if I didn't devote time to the semantics.

See, I've read the book the movie is based on, called Into Thin Air. (And by "read" I mean "listened to the unabridged audio book while on a drive across country back in 1998.") If that title looks somewhat familiar, it's because the author, John Krakauer, also wrote Into the Wild, which Sean Penn adapted into a movie back in 2007.

So why not use the catchy Into Thin Air as the title for this movie?

My thoughts:

1) Although Into Thin Air is a good, nay, a great title, the title does not in and of itself tell you what the movie is about. Nor did Into the Wild encapsulate precisely what that movie was about, per se, but it mattered less there as that was an independent film with a small budget. This movie has a gargantuan budget, and it needs a title that is going to leap off of the marquee. Everest does that.

2) They aren't going for the crowd who read Into Thin Air. They are going for Everybody Else.

3) The title Everest had, miraculously, never before been used for a feature-length film. It had been used for TV series (not one but two), a 44-minute documentary about the events depicted in this movie back in 1998, and as part of the title of the quickie 1997 adaptation of this book, which was called Into Thin Air: Death on Everest. But never by itself.

4) There's some evidence that this is a dramatization of the events that happened rather than an adaptation of the book itself, but since Krakauer himself is a character in the events, those lines are a bit blurred.

Anyway, this is a movie I've been looking forward to for 17 years, ever since listening to that audio book with two of my friends while driving around the U.S. visiting baseball parks. I can only hope it lives up to at least some of my expectations.

And while I took a pot shot at Kormakur, I did like the look of both Contraband and 2 Guns, if the movies themselves were sub-par. Maybe he just needs better material. And the cast here is about as good as you could ask for, including some of the most watchable actors on screen today.

Plus, this may be my first media screening in 3D, so there's that. I say "may be" because the invitation is ambiguous. The preview screening on Wednesday night is 3D, but tonight's may not be. It's an interesting debate, whether to screen your movie for critics in 2D or 3D. I guess it's a function of how good your think your 3D is, really.

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