Credit: <i>Everest 3D</i>

Screenwriters William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy dramatize an ill-fated 1996 climbing expedition up Mount Everest (previously recounted in Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction book Into Thin Air), in which two teams encountered an unexpectedly severe blizzard and eight climbers died. The first half chronicles the climbers’ careful preparation for the ascent, the measured ensemble drama showing how strangers can come to trust each other with their lives. For all the natural spectacle, the characters are what hold one’s attention, and the large, able cast includes Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Emily Watson, John Hawkes, and Keira Knightley. The movie’s sense of group dynamics, finely tuned suspense, and attention to technical detail reminded me of Robert Aldrich’s Flight of the Phoenix. Baltassar Kormákur (Contraband) directed.