Tag Archive: Mount Everest

Currently housed in a Tudor-style mansion in Manhattan, The Explorers Club is a real place with a legacy of adventurers among its ranks.  Parodied in The Freshman, the club is a meeting place established in 1904 for the purposes of promoting scientific exploration around the planet, and it does host an annual dinner with unusual flair.  A table can cost you $100,000 and features food including tarantula and other exotic animals that would be a nightmare for animal rights advocates, not to mention the taxidermy displays (Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was filmed there).  Honorary members include the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, John Glenn, Sir Edmund Hillary, Buzz Aldrin, and the club has bestowed its highest award to notables including Mary Leakey, Jane Goodall, Robert Ballard, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Not quite a secret society, the members have circumnavigated the world, flown, sailed, driven, and walked across each continent in search of the next discovery, returning back to the club to share the stories of their accomplishments.  In one of his last projects before his death in 2003, journalist and noted personality George Plimpton (himself a member) collected 51 first-hand accounts of these journeys from the club’s ranks and published them as As Told at the Explorers Club: More Than Fifty Gripping Tales of Adventure, available now in a new edition from Lyons Press.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

At one level The Aeronauts is a welcome reminder of how much humans take the science and technological achievements of their forbearers for granted.  It is a harrowing adventure, heart-pounding like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (the story of a climb to the top of Mount Everest), and will leave you feeling like you, too, have spent a few hours dangling from the top of a temporarily frozen gas balloon on a record-breaking flight in 1862.  And the Mount Everest comparison is no joke, as the balloonists soon realized what happens to the body on a climb that high was happening to them, including the addled brain from hypoxia.  Of course this flight was 91 years before Edmund Hillary made his record-breaking ascent at 29,029 feet, about 6,000 feet lower than the real-life flight documented in The Aeronauts, so everything they learned on their balloon flight was new.

The real-life scientist James Glaisher is played by Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and the balloon pilot–a fictional composite named Amelia Rennes–is played by Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)–reuniting both Oscar-nominated stars of the historical, scientist biopic The Theory of Everything (which earned Redmayne his first Oscar).  Glaisher seeks to prove that the study of weather can result in the possible prediction of weather and seeks the expert aeronaut Rennes to partner with him so he can prove his theories to the doubting aristocrats of London.  To do that he needed to get higher into the sky than ever before.  Rennes’s role was based on actual aeronaut balloonists Henry Coxwell and Margaret Graham, with even more elements based on Sophie Blanchard, who was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and, like Jones’s character, became famous as aeronaut following her husband’s death.

The Aeronauts is based on the death-defying feats of aeronauts in Richard Holmes’ 2013 book Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air.  Since the real flight itself lasted less than two hours aloft, the film is a great character study and closed room story, with an undeniable friendly, non-romantic chemistry between the two leads.  But it’s Jones’s circus-esque, Flying Wallendas-like showmanship and stunts that will make you want to come right back and watch it again.  Inspiring, soaring, and adventurous, it’s the kind of film you’ll want to show kids to get them excited about being all they can be.

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Hansen on Everest

Review by C.J. Bunce

I am an avid follower of the many chronicles of the May 1996 disaster on Mount Everest But it all comes down to the brilliant storytelling of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air that really sucked me in.  So compelling, his account made me feel like I was having breathing issues reading his novel into the wee hours of the morning.  Russian climber guide Anatoli Boukreev didn’t like Krakauer’s account, so he responded with his own, The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest.  Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest documents Beck Weathers’ story.  Each of these are worthy reads.  Other accounts include Climbing High: A Woman’s Account of Surviving the Everest Tragedy, by climber Lene Gammelgaard, After The Wind: 1996 Everest Tragedy–One Survivor’s Story, by Lou Kasischke, High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places, by David Breashears, and the Everest IMAX movie (filmmakers encountered the disaster climbers on their own climb and Brashears was instrumental in saving Beck Weathers).  Krakauer’s story got a less than adequate treatment in the film Into Thin Air, starring Christopher McDonald.  Which brings us to director Baltasar Kormákur’s 2015 theatrical release Everest, now available on streaming services and home video.

Fortunately Everest the movie is not a disaster.  It gets the story right.  The cast is nearly perfect.  Yet it doesn’t match the thrills of the true-life adventure it adapts, and so a detailed critique is warranted.  The screenwriters have pieced together all the key scenes and moments from the various firsthand accounts, sometimes picking and choosing so as not to adapt any single vantage point from another.  Yet it skips over some key climax points that could have made the film so much better.

Jason Clarke Everest

In a story where there are more males than females, why not highlight the two female climbers we do meet (played by Amy Shindler and Naoko Mori), instead of focusing on spouses (played by Keira Knightley and Robin Wright) whose only participation was a series of phone calls?  In the two roles where women get plenty of screentime, Emily Watson and Elizabeth Debicki are left with recurring close-ups where they are supposed to show concern, yet they come off as emotionless.  The actors were given little to work with.  A directorial or screenwriter problem?

Part of the problem also is the missed opportunity for well-edited musical cues.  Composer Dario Marianelli (V for Vendetta, I Capture the Castle) provides a score that is neither thrilling nor matches the emotion of the struggle and despairs depicted in the film.  It’s a sweeping score but never prepares us for what is ahead and never lands where it should.  But the music is secondary to the writing.

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Everest movie

Twelve climbers died on Mt. Everest in 1996, but the harrowing story of the events that occurred on May 10-11, 1996, have created the most exciting story of human endurance and survival yet documented.  More than 300 hundred documented climbers have died on the mountain, many whose bodies line the road to this day and still are used as checkpoints or mile markers for future climbers.  We don’t know all the details of their stories like we do of the May 1996 disaster.  And that’s thanks primarily to the fact that a master storyteller was on the mountain to be part of what happened.

That storyteller is Jon Krakauer, a journalist who would later document the events in the bestselling account Into Thin Air, one of the most exciting, jaw-dropping books ever written.  Without Krakauer so many people around the world would not know so much about these peoples’ lives we’d otherwise have no reason to know about:  Beck Weathers, Rob Hall, Scott Fischer, Anatoli Boukreev, Doug Hansen, Andrew Harris, Yasuko Namba.  The crossroads where they would all meet is finally coming to the big screen this year in director Baltasar Kormákur‘s Everest.  It will be difficult to screw up this story.  Millions of dollars went into the production.

Josh Brolin is Beck Weathers

Just look at the major league cast alone.  Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Zodiac, Source Code, Homicide) plays Fischer, Josh Brolin (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jonah Hex, Men in Black III, Milk, No Country for old Men, The Goonies) is Beck Weathers, Michael Kelly (House of Cards, Fringe, Law & Order, Unbreakable) is Krakauer, John Hawkes (Deadwood, Lost, The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), is Hansen, Jason Clarke (Terminator: Genisys, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) is Hall, Martin Henderson (The Ring, House, M.D.) is Harris, Icelander Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson is Boukreev, and Naoko Mori (Humans, Torchwood, Doctor Who) is Namba.

Check out this first, full-length trailer for Everest:

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By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

It’s like a film noir for super folk.  Just saying that, without even opening the book to one of the well-drawn pages, you can see them in your mind’s eye, pulling on a cigarette and blowing out the smoke or casually cutting into a bloody rare T-bone and thoughtfully chewing between each sentence detailing how they got to where they are.  In addition to dames and money, it adds something more mysterious, something more powerful and every bit as tragic.

I recommend Sleeper: Season 1.  Pick it up.  Read it.  It holds up seven years later and it holds up to a second read.  Probably a third one as well.  Don’t believe me?  Eh, go to hell.

You’re still with me?  Good.  You can get all of what I said in the pages of the trade paperback as you sit in your comfy chair, immune to the ills of the world since you got a roof over your head and money to spend on comic books.  It sure as hell can’t make you any softer boyo.  The story’s all there, maybe the second most famous Holden serving as a double agent and trying to figure out the madness of his underworld boss.  Pretty simple stuff.  The twist?

Every instance of pain inflicted on Holden, no matter how deadly, can be transmitted in the same magnitude to whomever he touches.

Don’t tell me that power is not one for a bad guy.  He doesn’t feel his own pain.  He makes you do it for him.  You’ll die so that he can live.

That’s about as anti-Christ as they come.

As you read, the other villains in the upper echelons of this criminal organization slowly start to reveal their powers.  I won’t spoil them for you, but let’s just say they would only work for bad guys as well.  What polite society would consider bad at least, but I guess it depends on the society you keep.  For you, enjoying your iced tea and slab of pizza as you watch another episode of Spongebob, yeah, it’s bad.

So, it got me to thinking.  Do the powers that you have automatically make you good or evil?  Nah, that’s too simple.  We know the world has a lot more shades of grey than that don’t we boyo?  Still, would it be better to have any random power as a hero or villain?  Let me take you on a quick ride to the country and we can talk about it as we drive.


If the villains can’t hurt you, a hero can use less force to bring them to justice.  Kill or be killed isn’t the equation since one side is an impossibility.  On the other side, invulnerability means that the good guys can’t hurt you so that you can take more risks.  Jump into an active volcano.  Plunge off a 100-story building.  Hide on the bottom of the sea.

So, on one side, a bunch of villains can have fun, the hero can let them feel they’re doing well while they wail on his invulnerable self and he or she just waits until they tucker themselves out and he takes them off to jail for a nice nap.  It’s like being Dad to a world of super-powered three-year-olds.

On the other side, maybe a villain robs all the rich folks camping up on the side of Mount Everest, climbs to the top and sleds to the bottom, creating the single steepest, greatest thrill ride of all time.  Our villain dusts herself off, walks down to the sea and figures she’ll use her ill-gotten gains for Cuba Libres and helicopter lessons.

Advantage: Villain.


With the omnipresence of porn on the Internet, being a villain and sneaking into locker rooms just doesn’t hold the cachet it used to.  Riding an ant into battle?  If horses are smelly, ill-tempered beasts, I can’t say that riding an ant would be much better.  Stop, miscreant, or you’ll step on me doesn’t even put the fear of Tom Hanks into a person.  I guess these heroes and villains will always have reconnaissance and espionage.  Then again, that’s Archer’s realm, so they’ll have to take a distant second.

Advantage: People without Internet that live near a gym.


You might immediately think this one would go to the villains, but you’d be wrong.  What does a villain have to think about?  Head or heart.  Head or heart.  That’s it.  A hero on the other hand, gets to aim at wooden cross beams at their weakest points, causing them to collapse on the stack of water-filled vats, spilling a tidal wave of water toward the inflated inner tubes, pushing them up into the sharp bowl of knives that cut a rope, releasing a crate of guitars that gently nudge the villain into a pit of extremely viscous pudding.  The hero becomes the star of their own OK Go video every time they fight crime.

Advantage: Hero.


The hero/villain becomes an entrepreneur/inventor.  If you wanted to be Ron Popeil all your life and created super juicers and vacuum cleaners that get the hard to reach dirt, well then, this is the super power for you.

Dolls that come to life?  Combination night vision goggles and underwater breathing apparatus?  A hot plate that can be thrown like a Frisbee?  What great Christmas gifts for only $19.99 plus shipping and handling.

Advantage: The ghost of Billy Mays.

So, that’s that, and lookee here.  I’ve driven to a nice deserted field.  Well, what’s this in my trunk but a shovel.  Didn’t you say you liked to dig?  You didn’t?  You better learn quick boyo.  Think of yourself as The Shoveler.

You shovel well.  You shovel very well, because I ain’t got all night.  While you dig, I’ll ponder to myself other superhero powers like power beams, adamantium claws and talking to the fishes in a non-concrete galoshes kind of way.  But in an hour we’ll both be done.  I need my beauty sleep.

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