Vertical Limit: Proof that not everything is better in HD!

Vertical Limit debuted tonight on HD-Net Movies an all high-def movie channel owned by Mark Cuban. I don’t think I’ve watched it since the first time I saw it back in 2000 when it was released, so I turned over just to see how it looked in high-def. I have to say, the movie looks pretty stunning in HD. However, being broadcast in 1080i doesn’t do anything for the overall stupidity of the movie.

For those that haven’t seen it, the film is set on K2 and follows a team going up the mountain that eventually gets into trouble thanks to a rich climber played by Bill Paxton who thinks he can buy his way to the top. Of course, he’s over the top, ambitiious, and puts everyone at risk because he wants to go for the summit in a storm. When the team gets stranded in a crevasse high on the mountain, Chris O’Donnell has to come to the rescue.

The film is fille with all kinds of inaccuracies and climbing cliches. Pretty much every possible thing that can go wrong, does, and the characters are all extreme architypes. It’s all rather predictable and silly for the most part, but it appeals to the mainstream I suppose, who are just looking for an action film and don’t know any better. The real burning question though is how the hell did Ed Viesturs get pulled into this mess? I’m guessing he lost a bet or something.

If you’re looking to get your fix through a climbing movie, pass on this dreck, even in high-def. You’re far better served renting Touching The Void

Kraig Becker

22 thoughts on “Vertical Limit: Proof that not everything is better in HD!”

  1. What is with K2 and cheesy movies about mountain climbing? K2: The Ultimate High anyone?

    Touching the Void is an excellent movie/documentary hybrid. Highly recommended. I have it on DVD and have seen it numerous times.

    A Cordillera Blanca trek in Peru area is on my list of things to do after watching that movie. Would love to see Siula Grande in person.

  2. Oh man! I nearly forgot about K2 (the movie). That was a piece of crap too. Michael Biehn of Terminator fame as a climber. That was amazingly bad too.

    Touching The Void is very well done. But there have to be some other great mountaineering movies out there. Lets see…Cliffhanger? Just kidding! The Eiger Sanction? Well it does have Clint in it, so it isn’t half bad.

    Can anyone think of some other great mountaineering movies?

  3. I recently climbed on a trip with a mountain guide who knows Ed Viesturs. At one point this movie came up in the general conversation, and the guide said that he and other guides like to rib Viesturs about being in the movie. Viesturs once said something like ‘Yes, but if you only knew how many mountain trips I’ve been able to go on, thanks to what they paid me for consulting/acting in that movie’.

  4. Yeah, I’m sure the money was good and hard for Ed to turn down. When I went to his book signing here in Austin last year, during the Q&A session, someone asked him when “Vertical Limit 2” was coming out. He just chuckled. I have a feeling he gets ribbed about it often.

  5. Interestingly enough, I recently read an old Everest dispatch from Dave Hahn where he admits that Hollywood may have it right. He describes a hairy situation on the Khumbu Icefall which can be descibed as Vertical Limit-esque. Quick read, but worth it.

  6. Pretty interesting story Alex. That sounds scary and a bit like something you would see in a scene from the movies.

    The problem with Vertical Limit is that not only would you have the Ice Fall collapse, it would probably pull half the team in with it. The other half of the team would then be killed by the rescue helicopter crashing as it came up to render aid. This would force the heroes to have to make the hike themselves, carrying all kinds of gear that they wouldn’t need, including thermal nuclear devices, just in case they needed to blast the ice out.

    Along the way, they would be attacked by a huge pack of giant Himalayan wolves (I just made those up) and two more of the crew would be eaten alive. In the end though, the Yeti would show up, and contrary to most legends, he’d drag the stranded climbers out of the crevasse, then disappear into the snow filled mountains.

    Damn, I need to copyright that before Michael Bey stumbles across my blog. 😉

  7. You forgot the part where the Yeti falls in love with one of the Himalayan wolves, but knows that their love is forbidden. Insert flashbacks, longing glances, and Australian sidekicks (for comedic effect).

  8. Oh yeah! Good point. I’ll add those to the script and give you co-author status! 🙂

  9. One more thing. Dave Hahn also has a piece where he describes a rescue attempt on Rainier in which his helicopter crashes into the mountain. Luckily, no one took a propeller to the neck – although it would have put butts in the seats. This guy has had his fair share of close calls. Also a good read.

  10. I’ve seen the video footage of that. It’s pretty amazing that no one got seriously injured. Crazy stuff.

  11. You guys are a riot.

    I remember going to see K2 in the theater with my twin brother Chris. We were soooo about climbing and everything back when we lived in Rochester, NY.

    We were seniors in high school and could not wait for the film to come out. I do remember it being a bit strange when the movie started and there was literally only one or two other people in the theater with us!

    Terrible film. But I remember feeling really cool because one of the climbers was wearing the same headlamp that I owned.

    Did you guys know that K2 was actually a stage play first? I believe it was simply a two man play and was quite good although I never saw it . Theater is an entirely different medium and the transition to film has killed many a good work of art.

    But Eiger Sanction is most surely a classic. I love that film and am always willing to overlook some of the silliness. Like Eastwood’s green construction helmet and the fact that one second he’s leading and the next second he’s on top-rope! True, there’s been many times when I wish I could do that…right at the crux when the pucker factor kicks in!!!


  12. Someone actually told me that K2 was a stage play recently, and I hadn’t heard that up until then. Interesting stuff, and I’d love to see it performed sometime.

    The Eiger Sanction is pretty cool. I’m a Clint fan though, so I have a hard time staying unbiased.

    As for that scene in Cliffhanger, didn’t the manufacturer sue the producers of the movie to have their logo or name digitally removed or something. I seem to recall reading something about that. They weren’t happy with their gear looking like it malfunctioned. Can’t say as I blame them, but I’d wanted the logo removed from the film on general principle alone. 😉

    Jon, after we get the script together, you want to help us film our big budget action climbing movie? I’m going to play the part of the Yeti just to save some of the costs.

  13. I think we need to revisit the camera angle we’re using during the “ice cave knife fight” scene between the Yeti (Kraig) and Mr. Stalone. I’m thinking that the submarine wreckage (by the way, we need a submarine) may get in the way as we pan across the icy arena. And perhaps Sly should have the knife instead of the Yeti. Should we take this offline?

  14. Didn’t you get the last script re-writes? Stallone has the knife, but the Yeti now carries a machine gun that he pulls of the submarine. As the scene develops however, Stallone will disarm the Yeti and get the gun himself. Right before shooting the Abominable Snowman he utters the phrase “Chill out..” or something equally witty.

  15. Ok . . . Ok . . . now I follow. When you lay it out like that, the whole scene comes together brilliantly. I’m going to go put a down payment on a yacht now – – this thing can’t miss.

  16. Yep! We’re on to a hit here! Clearly! We’ll need a huge Summer weekend to open this baby, and after that, it’s easy street.

    Let me know how the Yacht shopping goes. Maybe we can get a deal if we buy two!

  17. I CANOT believe you left me hangin on this script Kraig…

    Favorite Part of Vertical Limit…The Nitroglycerine slowly envelopes the dude’s foot. The soldier slowly takes the shoe off the guy, slowly carries it outside, then wings it…followed of course by a big explosion…a couple of seconds later…the dude who stepped in the Nitro, walks out of the little shack…with, that is right….Both shoes still on….

    Ok, maybe I have seen this movie to many times.

    Kraig, I have an idea for your script as well…give Ed Visteurs about a million bucks (a consulting fee)to say the exact same two lines that got him so famous in Vertical Limit…that way he will always be able to afford to climb…(Like he couldn’t already…lol) Also, I would like to volunteer my own services to be the dead guy found inside the Sub…you can just call me “Dead Guy #4” in the credits…

    You guys have me crackin up today…there is one thing that would have made Vertical Limit better…Chris O’Donnell if he would have worn his Batman outfit..Now THAT is where they would make their money with that movie..The russian guys in the movie..I was having flashbacks of them this season when I seen the pics of Wim Hoff…lol nice.

  18. No worries Jason! You know you’ll always have a place in our movie! Ed Viesturs too of course! With the huge budget we’ll have for this film, we’ll be able to get him his million bucks no problem.

    Maybe we can get Val Kilmer to join the cast so we can have another ex-Batman actor as well. I don’t think he’s been up to much lately. We might even be able to get him cheaper thn Ed! 🙂

  19. Not so sure about Val, I heard he was still living off his John Holmes Pic, if ya know what I mean..

    If you are really looking to get some media attention, I suggest casting Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton..even though with the latter, you may have to wait a few days before contacting her…seems she is in the middle of making a jail flick these days..

  20. Yeah, I’ve heard Paris is committed to making the sequel to Caged Heat for about a month and a half.

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