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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.81%
Worth A Look: 11.72%
Average: 28.13%
Pretty Bad39.06%
Total Crap: 13.28%

9 reviews, 74 user ratings

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Vertical Limit
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by Jason Whyte

"Brr...these rubbery walls and fake snow!"
2 stars

A whole visual plague ruins "Vertical Limit" from even being an entertaining movie. CG, matte and process photography, green screen, sets, spherical lenses; the whole movie does not feel like we are on K2, the world's deadliest mountain, but right inside an expensive set on the Sony lot.

Martin Campbell, who immediately struck my interest from making a James Bond movie (1995's "Goldeneye"), and a few other films he's made, like "No Escape" and "The Mask of Zorro," have been entertaining (if slight) films. But he knows his stuff, and has stood out to me as a fine action director. However, what seems like his biggest challenge turns into a major suspension of disbelief that's quite hard to swallow.

The opening scene is pretty good, however. Even though it echoes the thrilling opening of "Cliffhanger," it works. We meet two siblings named Peter (Chris O'Donnell) and Annie (Robin Tunney), who are pretty good rock-climbers. A situation occurs where their father dies by some inexperienced climbers up above. Very nerve-wracking scene thanks to the tools of editing, even if I thought they weren't really on a mountain, that the camera was just turned sideways.

Three years pass, and Peter has left the game and is now shooting with National Geographic in the K2 mountains in Nepal. He meets up with Annie at a K2 base camp, where Annie is heading on a climb with a billionaire (Bill Paxton) doing this only as a publicity stunt. Chaos ensues when their team is trapped in a cave on the mountain, and Peter gets together with a crew to go up after her. (If this were a Bond review, I would have put "It's up to Bond to save the day/stop them!" right here.)

The characters are poorly written to the point of distraction. This wouldn't be the problem of a comedy or an action movie, but here we have characters immersed in having conversations in Hollywood Scriptwriting 101 ("You're not going to let my sister die!," "When you're up there, you're not dying, you're dead!") and tired plot developments, like the insignificant characters dying first, or like the billionaire who only wants to save his own hyde and won't let his partners administer an important needle.

"Vertical Limit" looks cheap and rushed visually as well. In one, a helicopter dropoff scene that would have been exciting is killed visually by a horrible CG shot and a landing platform that looks creepily, like a set. To prove this, notice that many of the characters never show evaporated breath coming out of their mouths, especially the snow cave scenes, with it's fake snow and rubbery walls.

Campbell, for some reason, decided to shoot this film in the spherical 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and the film looks closed in and tight for a film that should be panoramic. It could be argued that anamorphic lenses are heavier and more bulky for the altitude of shooting, but that raises two nitpicks: why wasn't Super 35 (shot spherically, but altered to an amamorphic release print) utilized, and "Everest," the IMAX masterpiece, used a camera much bigger than the current Panavision cameras, and went higher than this one for a smaller budget.

Some of "Vertical Limit" is edited crisply and some of the performances are good for this type of film, to award its rating for merit. But the movie is severly flawed by described, and I think even a casual filmgoer will notice the obvious "tricks" and wonder where all the money went. Perhaps Chris O'Donnell must love catering.

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originally posted: 09/14/04 15:55:37
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User Comments

3/25/13 E.C.D. Takes way too long to get going. This is simple, plain, and needed to be 20 minutes shorter 3 stars
8/30/09 CTT Meh 3 stars
11/15/05 Quigley this is one heckuva movie, all right. action was really good, but acting wasn't up to snuff 4 stars
8/18/05 ES It's funny when the sun hits the nitro and it explodes = invest in radios that work dumbass 2 stars
4/02/05 Alice Colwell boring 2 stars
1/21/05 DM Horrible script somewhat salvaged by exciting action scenes 3 stars
11/23/04 D-Unit It blows the big one!!! 1 stars
9/24/04 Al Guy Robin Tunney is cute. The movie is not. 3 stars
9/16/04 Ryuji Oh dear. Crap story, crap effects. To top it off, the acting is more wooden than Pinochio. 1 stars
5/12/04 Gavin Loved it. Was one hell of a ride! Check it out. 5 stars
3/13/04 john bale White Hell meets Wages of Fear in the ultimate cliff hanger. Stunt man are the stars. 3 stars
3/04/04 timson "Chris O'Donnell, luv ya!". You, Rainbow, are an asshole. 1 stars
1/07/04 The name's Rainbow. Oh common! It has one of the coolest and hottest sidekicks around! Chris O'Donnell, luv ya! 4 stars
10/04/03 Chrys Calling it crap is an insult to feces. 1 stars
7/18/03 Chris I wanted to see this movie but when I did I was very dissappointed. This had potential. 2 stars
9/28/02 HekiliKoa the plot was as predictable as a weather in Greenland: always shitty 2 stars
9/15/02 syrius I have to slap the retards who decided to make this movie 1 stars
6/14/02 Ray Gordon Now you know why Darwin never climbed mountains. 1 stars
5/15/02 Blake The cliffs in this film looked like your were there. 5 stars
3/09/02 KrynnDM ...and I picked *this* over Charlie's Angels?! 2 stars
2/07/02 Lila great movie i love chris o'donnel 5 stars
2/03/02 Andrew Carden See The 1978 Rock Hudson B-Flick Avalance Instead. 1 stars
1/16/02 David A. Scenery and effects were entertaining, more so than the plot 4 stars
12/31/01 Moe Mr. Bean would have been a more believable climber 2 stars
12/23/01 Crunchyfrog Opening sequence is the funniest piece of film ever! 5 stars
11/27/01 KMG This movie is one nut-filled turd 1 stars
11/21/01 Matthew bartley Good stunts.Average addition to the disaster genre 3 stars
9/19/01 Karyn Monty Python movies are more believable then these special effects. 2 stars
8/29/01 Amy All "downhill" after the first three minutes 2 stars
8/12/01 tnt pathetically stupid in every way possible!!!! Avoid at all cost! 1 stars
7/10/01 Anne Predictable from the first five minutes. The scenery didn't make up for the retread plot. 2 stars
7/02/01 The Bomb 69 fun movie, could see what was happening a mile away but i was still entertained 4 stars
6/25/01 Matt Dorsey Blue screen effects. Predictable. Dubious nitro explosions. Somewhat entertaining. 3 stars
6/21/01 Bud OK rental with good special effects. No stirring performances. 3 stars
6/20/01 Melody Leu This movie was really awesome. Izabelle Scorupco and Chris Odonell were great and the other 5 stars
6/10/01 r davis Awful! Chinese water torture is preferable. 1 stars
6/05/01 Monday Morning Unbelievable but fabulous. Hell, just enjoy it! 5 stars
5/28/01 Wrob Stunning effects and highly unplausable action wrapped in a paper-thin plot. Typical. 2 stars
5/14/01 Destruction Worker On par with Cliffhanger 5 stars
5/10/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Cliche, cliche, and...oh, would ya looky here? ANOTHER cliche!! 2 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye Alexander Siddig was good in his role, as were others, but the plot couldn't be saved. 3 stars
2/28/01 Rahul Gupta good action, who cares about the story as most of them similar anyway 4 stars
1/29/01 Nic It really left me on the edge of my seat. Not many movies do that for me. 4 stars
1/22/01 Emily Leigh itd the best so go cheak it out ! 5 stars
1/20/01 Ground Zero this was waay crappier than Cliffhanger 2 stars
1/17/01 Jes VERY unrealistic... 3 stars
1/13/01 Avenger Girl Sure there are some dumb things in the movie, as in most movies. OK action flick. 4 stars
1/12/01 Lord Raymos Really dumb plot, but nice action sequences. 2 stars
1/11/01 Boy In The Designer Bubble My cousin dragged me to this movie. I kicked the shit out of him when we got home. 1 stars
1/06/01 Viking I liked the snow leopards 3 stars
12/27/00 Mamjama LOL..sorry this flick sucked...but what's an Australian Sterotype???? 2 stars
12/25/00 matthew smith good action set pieces, pity about the script and lacks charisma 3 stars
12/23/00 MadBunny Nitro freezes (stable), the whole sunlight shit ignores ambient temperatures...helooo.. 1 stars
12/22/00 Stipey Dude, Where's My Carcass? 2 stars
12/21/00 Schell 6 climbers go on a rescue mission at 8,000m without oxygen gas, parkas or acclimitization. 2 stars
12/20/00 malcolm pretty good, but O'Donnell's character was SUPER selfish 3 stars
12/18/00 kayti denham Lame action and offensive stereotyping of Australians 1 stars
12/15/00 Kevin D. My high hopes for this movie were lost in a cave. 1 stars
12/14/00 Diehard I thought it was good, way better than expected. 4 stars
12/13/00 Mr. X Comparisons to "Cliffhanger" and "Everest" were inevitable. Just plain silly. 2 stars
12/12/00 PhilmPhreak Dumb, dumb, dumb, good stunts, dumb, dumb 1 stars
12/12/00 Jack Daniels OK action movie 3 stars
12/12/00 Ground Zero What the hell is this? Cliffhanger 2? 2 stars
12/11/00 frankko if there had been no dialogue, the movie would have been a lot better. 3 stars
12/11/00 Angus moorehead A simple film which scales the height in the latest extreme-wear fashion. 2 stars
12/11/00 Doctor Collosus Wow!!! Adrenalin RUSH! First really exviting movie in years. 5 stars
12/10/00 FrayLo Don't look for a great plot, this one was all about entertainment... 3 stars
12/10/00 Sexton Hardcastle Bah! Poop! 1 stars
12/10/00 Sam S. Far above any action movie I've seen in a long time. 5 stars
12/10/00 Kohawk If you're there for eye candy and not much substance it's ok. Low end just average 3 stars
12/10/00 Brandon - The Man Despite moments of great suspense, it had bad acting, lame story, ridiculous situations. 2 stars
12/07/00 Jennifer Verticell Good movie if you like action. 4 stars
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  08-Dec-2000 (PG-13)


  21-Dec-2000 (M)

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