Formidable fact-based drama about the disastrous 1996 ascent of Mount Everest by two mountaineering teams: one led by the New Zealand climber (Jason Clarke) who pioneered commercial expeditions in the Himalayas, the other by a freewheeling American guide (Jake Gyllenhaal). Aided by a terrific ensemble and first-rate production team, Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur does an excellent job of conveying the human saga as well as the natural spectacle. The result is a sensitive and powerful movie that declines to apportion blame or pass judgment on anyone. Additionally, the absence of any genuinely objectionable material makes this meditation on humanity's struggle against the elements suitable for a broad range of age groups. The sacrifices of the local Sherpa guides and the perspective of the Nepalese people as a whole, however, should have warranted greater recognition.

Watch out for: Frequent scenes of peril and some gruesome images.

Rated: A-II, adults and adolescents; MPAA: PG-13, parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015