Movie Review: The Mountain Between Us

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I need to admit something: I love natural disaster films. The disaster genre has always been my guilty pleasure when it comes to movies and I’ve seen every major studio natural disaster film that has been released in theaters in the last 10 years. So when I saw the trailer for “The Mountain Between Us,” I naturally grew excited.

Unfortunately,despite an interesting premise and strong start, “The Mountain Between Us” eventually becomes a rather boring and awkward film that has one of the most unsatisfying endings I’ve seen all year, if not ever.

After their flight gets canceled, two strangers (Kate Winslet and Idris Elba) book a seat on a charter plane in hopes of making it to Denver, Colorado. During their flight, the pilot suffers a stroke and crashes the plane, stranding them on a snowy mountain. With no one aware of their location, the two must begin to make their way down the mountain in hopes of finding help before they succumb to their injuries and the below-freezing temperatures.

The film starts off fairly strong. It moves at a rather quick pace and the two characters are on the plane 10 minutes into the movie. When the plane crashes, the scene is tense and well-filmed. I was anxious the entire time and it reminded me why I’m terrified of flying (I always stay up 24 straight hours before I get on a plane so I can sleep through the entire flight).

After the plane crashes, a number of events provide for a tense and nerve-racking viewing experience. The first act of the film is easily the strongest and gives the audience exactly what they want from this film: some damn good entertainment.

The two characters start to head down the mountain and this is where the film falls apart. As soon as they make their way down, the movie slows to an extremely boring pace and nothing exciting really happens. It’s just Kate and Idris arguing back and forth and talking about their lives before the crash in an attempt to get to know one another, only they never talk about anything all that interesting. Nothing they say or do made me care about them, and I found myself focusing on the background and cinematography of the movie (which is absolutely beautiful!) more than I was on the actual story.

This isn’t an insult to Winslet’s and Elba’s talent. In fact, they give some rather fantastic performances and are the only reason I didn’t completely lose interest in the film. They have enough talent between the two of them to carry the entire movie on their shoulders and do the best with what they’re given. The script is just too poorly written for them to ever pick the movie back up onto its feet.

What bothered me most about “The Mountain Between Us” was that it starts off as an action thriller, but halfway through it turns into an awkward and forced romantic drama. Over the course of the movie, the two characters start to fall in love, but their love story is anything but believable. They spend most of the movie going back and forth saving each other’s lives, which is meant to be the reason they fall in love, but it doesn’t feel realistic. It feels more like they happen to fall in love with the “hero” aspect of one another and not the actual person. It gets even more unbelievable when, near the end of the film, the two characters end up having sex together in what is probably the most eye rolling sex scene of the year.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this movie turned into a romance rather than just a film about two strangers who come together to make it back home. That would have been more exciting and more of an engaging story than the one we were given.

I do applaud everyone involved in making this film, as it was filmed on location on an actual mountain that required the entire production team to take a helicopter to get there. The environment on-screen is all real and when you see the actors shivering from the cold, they’re not acting. Again, the cinematography is beautiful and the audience is given a number of amazing shots showing off the wilderness in which our heroes are stranded. It sounded like everyone involved really went through hell putting this movie together, so it’s unfortunate that the payoff didn’t quite deliver.

“The Mountain Between Us” isn’t a bad film. It’s just not a very good film. It kept me entertained and I’m glad I saw it, but will I ever go and see it again? Probably not, unless it came to Netflix and I needed something to listen to while I fell asleep.

The bottom line: After a strong and intense first act, “The Mountain Between us” quickly turns into one of the most underwhelming films of the year and one that isn’t necessarily a waste of your money, but a movie you’ll forget all about the day after you see it.

Matthew Halton | The Utah Statesman