PG-13 Dir: Henry Abu-Assad | Twentieth Century Fox | 1h 40min
Plot: What’s it about?
I don’t know why, but The Mountain between Us seemed to come and go without much notice. Despite the presence of stars Kate Winslet and Idris Elba, the film just sort of evaporated from theaters and most likely people’s minds. Ultimately I think it’s something of a mixed bag, but I thought it would make more of an impression than it did. On the surface, it seems like a pretty standard survival story with a subtle romantic angle thrown in for good measure. I think one of the issues I had with it is the rather cold nature of the film and the two characters. Elba and Winslet both give it their all, but they can’t quite overcome the nonchalant tone the film has.
After both of their flights have been cancelled, Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) contact Walter (Beau Bridges) who’s a pilot and agrees to get them to their destination. This is all Alex’s plan, though we really never learn what exactly her plan is. She also takes to Ben almost cold turkey after overhearing his conversation. Walter, along with his dog, takes Ben and Alex, but unfortunately, suffers a stroke during the flight and causes the plane to crash. This leaves Walter dead and Alex and Ben (and Walter’s dog) to fend for themselves and seek shelter and try and survive. The plane crash itself is more than a little frightening and in fact well-staged, but there are just too many early contrivances that put these two characters together. Still, the film does offer enough character development for the two that we at least care to some extent of the outcome. Since Alex injures her leg during the crash, Ben looks for help While Ben is away, there’s a scary run in with a cougar which ends up injuring the dog. After a while, Ben and Alex both go together to look for help.
You might’ve seen the ads for this film and garner some idea about where things will go, and you’d be right. While the film takes a while for the romantic angle to kick in, it does. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I suppose the filmmakers felt the film needed that, and it does a fairly convincing job of making us buy into it. Still, the film’s first half is the strongest. We’ve seen survival stories like this before and this falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not great, but not a total loss either. With a bit of reworking it might’ve fared better. I mentioned earlier that Alex’s plan that ignites the whole thing is never developed at all where we really don’t know why she randomly chooses Ben as her new companion. Also, the film has such a casual, nonchalant tone that it’s harder for us to care about the final outcome. I also think the ending is a bit silly as well. The film works well enough to catch it on cable one night, but it’s hardly a must-see film.
Video: How’s it look?
Lending itself nicely to the 4K format, Mountain gives us a downright stellar transfer and is a bit more detailed than its Blu-ray counterpart. We definitely get a heightened sense of definition here as textures on clothing and other such objects really come through. The majestic snow-covered mountains seem to come to life as the HDR really accentuates the natural beauty of the landscape. This is a beautifully-shot film.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track really creates an engaging atmosphere that helps draw us into this world, though it’s somewhat disappointing that the 4K version doesn’t sport a Dolby Atmos or DTS X track. This is the same track that’s featured on the Blu-ray (also included in this set). The plane crash in particular really puts us in the middle of the action. I saw the film theatrically, and this is just about as good. Vocals were fine and clear as well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Love and Survival: Creating Chemistry – This by the book EPK chronicles the relationship of the two major characters as well as takes us behind the scenes for some of the shoot.
- Mountain Between Them: Shooting in Isolation – Basically more of the above, with some added emphasis on the location.
- The Wilds: Survival Stunts – The cast is shown as is their preparation for the rigorous physical shoot as well as some other key sequences in the film.
- Deleted Scenes – A handful are included, but like most deleted scenes these don’t really offer much to the story. Optional commentary by director Hany Abu-Assad is included.
- Gallery – A series of production stills from the film are shown and can be played automatically or manually. Yay.
- Director’s Commentary by Hany Abu-Assad – The included director’s commentary is a welcome addition to this disc and it’s a bit technical at times. He details some of the challenges of making the film (chronicled in the features above), but seems to have no problem complimenting his lead two actors – and with good reason. It’s not mind-blowing by any means, but fans of the film will welcome its inclusion.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
There are both, better and worse films in this genre. The acting is strong and the film’s first half, but there are some notable flaws. For one, the whole scenario that gets these two characters together is too flimsy. Also, the romantic angle could’ve been dropped and probably would’ve added to the film. Had the film avoided this route, it not only would’ve felt more unconventional, but also showed the resiliency of these characters emotionally. Still, there are enough good elements to warrant a viewing on cable one night.