on March 8, 2011
Now THIS is what I call an epic ride! My palms are basically still sweating as I write this, with the movie's impact and touching story still making my heart race. Don't listen to anybody who says this movie is anything short of incredible! It's got it all! It's a rare moment in your life when you come across something that moves you with both the power of MASSIVE fiery explosions and the pure strength of the human spirit. These two things come together for a story of passion and ambition, loyalty and revenge, and tests the breaking point of the human spirit at 26,000 feet.
OK, so what can I say that hasn't been said? First of all, this is a bold movie, combining deadly action with a story of family loyalty. You have to keep in mind that this is an action movie first though. The main attraction is the promise of nitroglycerin bombs rocketing minor characters through the air, flinging them over cliffs to their ultimate deaths. There's also avalanches with the same explosive power blowing people around like leaves. How cool is that?
Or you can watch it for the dialogue, which despite what other commenters are saying is really quite good. The script is so full and rounded with witty one liners, touching moments, and unspoken nuances which can only be displayed through precise acting. Really, the touching fight for survival is as unrelenting as the power of nature. If you like being rocked to the edge of your seat biting your nails as characters literally cling to life, only to to be thrust back again by insane explosions rippling through epic mountains (and who doesn't?), then there's no doubt this DVD will climb to the top of your collection! (no pun intended!) It has everything a good action movie should, with a little welcome extra to set it apart from the rest. And do yourself a service and buy the blu-ray version for SURE! I didn't even talk about the stunning scenery and sound, but you can see the other reviews to back me up on that.
on July 14, 2004
I love this movie.
Granted, from a mountaineering perspective a lot of scenes are plainly ridiculous: the climbing accident at the beginning of the movie where Peter, Annie and their dad all seem to have bombproof protection and are simply ripped off the mountain all the same - people climbing K2 from base camp straight to the summit, all during daylight on one day - Annie's rope being severed as she is falling into a crevasse - Peter Garret summitting even though he has no previous high altitude experience or acclimatization whatsoever - Monique doing her lunge for the crevasse with one cam in her left hand, groping for the rope with her right hand - it is all a load of crap.
Still, it is great entertainment! Loved the emotional moments, eg interactions between Peter and Annie, Montgomery finally finding his wife (frozen to death), etc.
Wonderful music and scenery, besides. As to the scenery, for the people critizing that the movie wasn't all shot on K2: this movie was shot in New Zealand, home of Sir Edmund Hillary! This is where he learned the ropes, ok? And yes, where Lord of the Rings was shot in New Zealand too, by the way.
on May 15, 2004
I got to see this movie at the theatres when it was released back in late 2000 and although I was not expecting anything all that great "Vertical Limit" nonetheless was a half-way decent movie that is an adrenaline rush for action fans, but at the same time was a bit awkward at times.
It begins with Peter Garrett and his sister Annie with their father in the deserts of Arizona and they are climbing a huge mesa but a horrible accident occurs and threatens to kill all of them and their father sacrifices his own life to save his two children by cutting the rope which results in him falling to his death.
Flash forward many years later, things take place in the cold unrelenting winds of K2, the world's second highest mountain but also the most dangerous, Peter and Annie Garrett now adults set out on their adventure to conquer the treacherous peak but the attempt goes horribly wrong when the woman climber falls into a vast ice crevice far away from any nearby camps due to an avalanche, and is stuck in a ice crevice underneath unstable ice forms which threaten to collapse at any moment and time is against them as the raging winds, isolation, and extreme cold threaten to kill the entire crew if it goes wrong.
This movie on a casual note is really quite good because of it's vivid portrayal of the dangers of mountiain climbing especially with climbing some of the worlds highest peaks like K2 which is in fact even more dangerous to climb that Mt. Everest. The overall tone is very intense and not to mention scary as h.e.l.l.
The acting at times though is a bit hammy especially by Robin Tunney and Chris O'Donnell. Scott Glenn as the mysterious mountain dweller though was really good and the character was really something to see.
The superbit Collection has really excellent sound quality and the 5.1 DTS sound when connected to the stereo will make you feel almost like you are back at the theatre watching this movie all over again on the big screen.
on April 18, 2004
This movie sucked. Who wants to watch some random bimbo and a scary rich guy stuck up in an ice cave? It's annoying! And all the cool characters got blown up before this abysmal movie was halfway over.
And then there's the plot. Carrying Nitro up a mountain is a very very very stupid thing to do. I can't believe that someone actually thought this up as a storyline. First of all, if you jump out of a moving helicopter with Nitro strapped to your back, you will explode. However, none of the characters who did this were incinerated as they obviously would have been in real life. In fact, no one got blown up because they tripped and smashed their Nitro. Oh no! One guy died because he dropped his Nitro over a cliff and it started an avalanche, two other guys died because they left their Nitro out in the sun and it ignited (does Nitro really react to sunlight??) and the last two dudes died 'cause this one dude cut the climbing rope. It was stupid. I've said that before.
Basically, DON'T WATCH THIS!
If you want a real mountain climbing experiance, read Into Thin Air!
on September 11, 2003
I remember hearing some really bad things about this movie, and being the climbing maniac that I am, I decided I had to see for myself. And although there were some obvious flaws (how could Peter survive the Death Zone when he had no previous high altitude acclimatization?) I found that this movie erased many stereotypes about climbing movies created by "Cliffhanger". I enjoyed the actors' performances, especially Scott Glenn (whom I had never heard of before seeing this movie). His character, the legendary, yet reclusive sage Montgomery Wick, reluctantly agrees to lend his efforts to Peter's rescue group. Wick comes across as being rather harsh, and unkindly, but in the later scenes of the film, everything changes. (There's one part in the film that I can't get out of my head: when Wick finds his long-lost wife, Myama, frozen in the snow.) I also like the fact that all of the actors actually CLIMBED, although the film was shot on Mount Cook in New Zealand, not the real dreaded K2. I liked how they were realisitc in the fact that after prolonged exposure in the Death Zone, you will almost certainly get pulmonary edema, and will die shortly after. I also like the fact that it's not a boyfriend who's girlfriend is climbing the mountain, so he HAS to help her because he loves her. Yes, Peter loves Annie, but because they're siblings. There is a nice blend between family conflict and the extreme of the mountain, not to mention that even if you hate the movie, the music'll at least jolt you to attention.
on March 12, 2003
Vertical Limit does not accomplish its goals as a action/suspense thriller, yet in itself it is still an entertaining movie.
The acting isn't half bad--much better than could be expected of films of similar quality. What kills this movie is the plot and the details. Characters die off for little good reason other than to say, "Look, mountain climbing is dangerous, particularly when you have sun, heat, and shock-sensitive nitroglycerine on your back!" Fun factoid: the Pakistani military apparently keeps this stuff on hand for some reason and is happy to lend it out to would-be mountain rescuers.
The screenplay is done in typical thriller movie fashion and actually doesn't deviate much from the tried and true formula by drawing the movie out beyond its proper end or other typical blunders. Basically, a party stranded and in grave danger of death due to freezing, altitude sicknesses, etc., must be rescued; the ambitious leader of the lost party of course cares only for himself and becomes a bad guy really overwhelmed by the antagonist represented by the forces of nature.
In the end, parts of the movie supposed to build suspense end up instead giving a few good laughs due to poor execution. I don't think I was ever on the edge of my seat--much less the edge of a cliff--during this film, but I was entertained.
I enjoy this film for "bad movie" nights a la Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I cannot recommend it for casual viewing. Still, if action films are your genre and you've exhausted the field, you might want to give this one a try.
on September 16, 2002
Some movies are bad, and then there are others that would require a lobotomy to suspend disbelief, "Vertical Limit", is in the latter category. Even if you have never read a single sentence about mountaineering, this movie will insult your intelligence. This movie is about as close to accurate as the mountain they filmed on in New Zealand is to K2 in The Himalayas.
Virtually everything that takes place once the story moves to, "K2", is absolutely absurd or literally impossible. These folks don't climb the mountain, they use helicopters to take them to starting points higher than any helicopter has ever been on a mountain in the Himalayas. There is no air to sustain life as you approach the summit, and there is also nothing for the rotors of a helicopter to bite in to for the craft to stay aloft.
Climbers do not climb up K2, or mountains even less hazardous without fixed ropes, much less sashay up the mountain as they do in this film alone and without any form of anchor. Long before a climber reaches 22,000 feet, walking is a nightmare, no climber can run at a sprint, wearing crampons, and then leap across a gap, and then gracefully land on the opposite side by impaling rock with 2 ice axes. And if any of this sounds like a double digit IQ would be a stretch, these folks have nitroglycerine strapped to their backs, and this is where there is a bit or realism.
Several of the geniuses get blown up, and this bit of carnage is believable. This whole film has absolutely nothing to do with climbing a steep hill in your local town much less the most deadly mountain on the planet.
If you want to see a true ascent by world-class climbers, and the struggle that these world-class athletes try to overcome, watch the DVD that was done for IMAX about an Everest attempt. This movie would have been appropriate as a cartoon with the coyote bringing the explosives.
on September 12, 2002
What a fabulous cinematic experience, both in terms of action and photography values! Yet this is an experience without a real story, with characters bumping into each other and the furniture, to twist Spencer Tracy's sage advice about what acting is all about. Chris O'Donnell's character is all over the place, brooding, remorseful, a somewhat milquetoast character who somehow seems to be quite sure of himself all at the same time. His sister, on the other hand, seems to suffer from some terrible form of terminal emotional constipation, yet she is supposedly acting out some emotional psycho-drama inspired in large part by her sainted dead father's memory. Bill Paxton plays a shady and insipid yuppie type character so shallow his teeth glow in the sunlight, and only Scott Glenn lends any kind of real and authentic acting credibility to this unlikely potboiler.
All that said, it still represents a terrific way to spend some quality time gazing at the terrific landscapes, action sequences, and wonderful cinematography that the director continually throws our way, and the action sequences in particular are stunning and very realistic. While anyone familiar with climbing can spot a number of technical errors in both the storyline and the way the accidents and subsequent rescue attempts are depicted, there is a lot in the way this film was made to recommend it in terms of enjoyable movie entertainment.
Especially noteworthy was the way the climbing sequences were filmed, which required a lot of technical expertise on the part of the actors, and lent itself well to telling the story through their actions and interactions. And while the plot was so trite and silly as to be laughable, you will find yourself absorbed by the sequence of events depicted and the suspense-filled and breathless pace at which events seem to transpire, crowding each other off the screen for the next sequence. Not a real mind-twister, but not abad way to wile away a rainy Sunday afternoon. Enjoy!
on April 14, 2002
When I sat down to watch 'Vertical Limit' I wasn't expecting rocket science, I was expecting a long list of clichés bad acting and special effects. This I got, but for an action movie there aren't nearly enough thrills. It starts with Peter (O'Donnell) and Annie (Tunney) having to cut their father loose after a climbing accident. Although Peter is too scarred by the incident to climb ever again, Annie goes on to become world-famous and her next challenge is K2. After an incredibly slow build-up, they finally face the mountain with predictable results. Yes, trying to get to the top despite that big storm brewing was not a good idea, and Annie and to other climbers get stuck in a chasm. Peter and a team of rescuers go up after them. Plot wise this is it, but the plot's not really the problem.
The acting is all formulaic, but it's the blatant disregard for human life which is perhaps most baffling in a film with such a low rating as this. Between the lot of them, they manage about five nitroglycerene explosions up in the mountains, so many in fact that this becomes a by-numbers movie more than anything else. Plus, by the ending where Peter finally gets to rescue Annie it's difficult to feel sorry for two people that literally have a death count behind them. Given this, in a way it's quite a perturbing movie, but it's still just basically big and dumb.
There's plenty of stunning landscape, along with wide sweeps over the mountains in hope that the audience won't notice the movie itself. Plus, the special effects are very impressive but as we simply don't care what happens to the characters it's all pretty redundant really.
on April 8, 2002
Surprisingly competent mountaineering adventure. Without belaboring the plot (much of which doesn't stand up to serious scrutiny), suffice to say that it's about an attempt to rescue 3 mountain climbers stranded in a sort of bottomless pit on the upper reaches of K2. Jacking up the suspense is the deadline factor: more than 2 days at such high altitude will cause pulmonary edema, so our 6 rescuers have to find the victims quickly. Director Martin Campbell ratchets things up a bit more with the canisters of nitroglycerine each rescuer is carrying (who knows why; just enjoy the suspense) -- exposure to sunlight and the canisters'll go ka-blooey. Perhaps it's because of the setting, but *Vertical Limit* seems much better photographed than the majority of action pictures out there -- no small consideration when one has to deal with the inevitable hamfistedness of the dialogue that comes with this territory. But there's still too much CGI for my taste. Admittedly they're getting better and better at this stuff, but you know some of what you're seeing was composed on an iMac. It becomes glaringly obvious when the action goes too far; e.g. when Chris O'Donnell jumps about 20 feet over a canyon, or when a helicopter hovers near the edge of a cliff as it's disembarking our rescuers. ...Just for once I'd like to see an action movie that uses real stuntmen doing real stunts. To be fair to *Vertical Limit*, you get more of that than what's customary these days.