The Summit of the Gods Review

I can’t say that I was really familiar with this film before watching it but I can safely say that it holds up well. It’s a quality title all around with a good amount of tension and quality characters. The animation style was also very smooth and worked well with what the film was going for. It sounds like a back handed complement to say it’s better than I would have expected it to be but it definitely did exceed my expectations. If you’re looking for a solid mountain climbing adventure then this is the film for you.

The movie starts by introducing us to Makoto who is a reporter. He’s trying to follow up on the story of two climbers who vanished after Everest and we don’t know if they truly climbed to the top or not. One day he’s at a bar when someone tries to sell him the fabled camera of the explorer which would prove beyond a doubt what happened but Makoto has no time for that. The guy ends up being mugged by the mysterious climber known as Habu though so maybe this actually is legit. Makoto must now find out everything about Habu so that he can track the guy down and grab the camera.

So most of the film is actually a flashback as we see Habu slowly become better and better at climbing to the point where he doesn’t need a partner. Habu’s skills are very real but his personality isn’t always the best. Not only does he not have a filter but he really doesn’t seem to respect his partners’ abilities all that much. Certainly not as much as you would expect at least and so this leads to him being isolated. He still wants to keep on pushing himself though and in a way he lives to climb so as long as he can keep climbing then he is happy. The rest just doesn’t matter nearly as much to him.

A good chunk of the film is about trying to understand what is so fascinating about climbing. It’s a super dangerous hobby without a whole lot of upside and things can easily go sideways for you. So with all of that in mind. Why do it? Well I suppose people like what they like but I can’t say that I’d ever be too interested in the hobby myself. I’d enjoy the cold temperatures to be sure but risking my life for something like this just wouldn’t feel worth it. In general few things are so I’d rather stay safe if I can help it.

Habu is definitely the best character in the film either way. He really gets a lot of screen time here and is quick on his feet. Ultimately at least by climbing on his own he’s not really putting anyone else in danger. It’s only when others want to join him that things get a little crazy. Meanwhile Makoto is a good character as well. He feels a little out of his depth the whole time but I do have to give him some credit because he holds his own by the end. He has enough strength and climbing expertise to actually scale mountains and not just get left in the dust. To an extent I do have a little bit of a hard time believing that but since he’s so invested in the hobby I suppose he may have trained at some point.

Mountain Climbing is not a forgiving sport either so even if you enjoy it a lot, you better spend some time in the weight room. There’s no escape and few places to rest once you’re on the mountain so you really do need to see the whole thing through to the end. Seeing the characters just hanging from the to of the mountain with nothing but pure arm strength is extremely impressive.

As I mentioned earlier the animation is really smooth here. I like how streamlined everything appears and it really supports this kind of adventure. The mountain itself is very sleek and the snow stands out. The movie even uses some really creative effects later on for the storm and also has some rather spooky scenes involving a ghost. I would say this looks a bit more like a DC movie than an anime but that’s not a bad thing in the slightest because it’s just so high quality.

Visually the movie keeps up with the pacing and story. I would also say that the writing is very good here as well. It’s very much a slice of life kind of movie as we follow Habu’s adventures and everything makes sense in that context. There’s no random drama, no rushed romance, no super villain here to cause trouble. It’s a story that could have easily happened in real life and even when bad things do happen like a character might die, everyone handles is very maturely. In general you could call this a very mature movie and not in an edgy way. It’s not particularly violent or disturbing, but it is a film that probably wouldn’t be super exciting for a kid. The movie is just confident enough in itself to have a satisfying story without needing to add any fluff or anything extra.

Overall, I thought this was a great movie. It excels in just being a simple, direct movie about mountain climbing. There is a lot of attention to detail here and they don’t hold your hand through how this works. You see the characters setting up their gear and just have to follow along the whole time. You can absolutely do this if you are paying attention and it’s a nice test in a way. The flashback is engaging enough where you don’t mind most of the film not being in the present. Usually I’m not big on flashbacks but as this turned out to be part mystery it worked well. In a way there’s not a whole lot to say about this movie. It’s not a title you will spend a lot of time theory crafting and instead you can just sit back and enjoy it.

Overall 8/10

Cliffhanger Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would likely be far harsher.

It’s time to look at an old action film about climbing the mountains. It’s definitely not a film that I had heard of beforehand, but the premise is fairly interesting and it’s always fun to remember what action films were like back in the day. I mean, this film isn’t as old as I may be hinting, but it’s an era that is certainly past now. It’s a pretty solid film all around and it doesn’t make any big mistakes along the way.

Gabe is one of the world’s greatest mountain rescuers. The average employee on the rangers uses the Helicopter, Gabe prefers to climb the mountain on foot. It was all going well until one of his friends (Hal) brought along a girl to climb the mountain with him. She is afraid of heights though and Hal has fun with this instead of being understanding. Gabe starts to perform his rescue, but the knot comes undone and the girl falls to her doom. Hal blames Gabe for this so Gabe quickly quit the Rangers and ran off for 11 months. After having his fill of guilt tripping himself, Gabe comes back only to find out that a group of people have gotten stuck on the mountain again. Hal is going off to find them, but Gabe knows he won’t be able to get the job done and tags along as well.

This cuts into the villain side of the equation. A group of plane hijackers are after 100 million (I think that was the total. Maybe it was 300 mill) but an FBI agent shoots the plane down and that’s how they crashed. They decide to trick the rangers into helping them find the money. Of course, they just go into threatening mode once the Rangers show up and have them at gun point. Hal and Gabe will have to think fast to get past these guys and back home. They’ll also have to do it quickly as the main heroine (Jessie) and the boss are planning to go after the heroes since the rescue is taking too long. They wouldn’t last a minute against these villains.

I was a little surprised at first when a large chunk of the intro focused on the villains. I wondered where Gabe was, but I guess the writers wanted you to really get to see all of the villains. They were pretty important in this film after all. Eric is a good leader for the group and he certainly plays for keeps here. He’s very persistent as he keeps coming up with different plans to take Gabe down for good. Gotta give him some kudos there. The tech man for the team was also pretty solid as he made sure that the gadget for finding the money could only be used by him. See, this is a smart minion. Most of the others would have just told the boss the password and that would have been game over.

As much credit as I give the villains for their resourcefulness and all…I still had a hard time buying into the plane hijacking. It’s just a little hard to swallow that all of the professional agents would go down so fast. At the very least you need to shoot the guy standing in the center if you’re going to be turned into swiss cheese anyway. So I did like the FBI agent there since he got one last shot just to mess with the villains. He certainly did a lot better than the average agent. Probably the best character in the film if we’re being honest. He just needed to be a little faster on the draw next time.

The film does a good job of mixing the action and the humor. It can actually get very violent and serious at times, but the TV version did a seamless job of editing out the worst parts and glossing over the fights. As a result we were just left with the hype parts. The soccer villain was also pretty interesting since he towed the line between sadistic villain and pun happy eccentric. The soccer skills were definitely impressive, but not as impressive as Hal’s comeback. I’ve always agreed with the characters on this one. If a villain is trying to destroy you anyway, it’s gotten to the point where it’s pretty personal so you may as well counter with a pun for the added disrespect.

The one liners in this film were pretty good like the line about how the campfire was expensive as the heroes burned money to stay warm. I mean, I probably wouldn’t light a fire when there are a bunch of people with guns out to get me, but I suppose the villains didn’t have their glasses ready yet. The romance is the only area of the film that’s rather weak but it doesn’t play much of a role anyway. It pretty much comes and goes with no real fanfare. The writing is all right as it delivers the humor well with the one liners but can be lacking otherwise. Not weak enough to hold the film back though.

There’s nothing really negative to say about Gabe. He didn’t handle the whole situation very well as he just ditched Jessie for absolutely no reason. Leaving for 11 months without a single form of communication and then showing up so Jessie can move out was a terrible plan. Of course the point is that Gabe is best when he’s on the mountain and then he wrecks everybody. He can certainly fight well and he did do his best to save Hal’s friend back when it counted. I don’t like Hal because of how petty he is for a while. I did keep some respect for him though since he still did his best to help Gabe out afterwards. Once the villains took out the guns and started attacking, there was no more time for bickering. The two of them just teamed up without a word. You’d expect that two guys who were friends for so long would be able to do that but it’s something that a lesser film would probably forget to be honest.

An important thing that the film also did well was keeping the pacing quick. The heroes and villains were always on the run so the brief campfire scenes didn’t last long. For an action film like this one, it’s important that the action keeps on going. That may sound obvious, but it can be difficult to always have something happening since the writers have to think of reasons for why each side isn’t dead yet. Since they’re on a snowy mountain that gets really dark at night, that helps quite a bit. It’s always fun to have an ongoing chase and the film’s soundtrack, while forgettable, worked well during these scenes.

Overall, Cliffhanger is a solid film. On one hand, it’s not as if it does anything spectacular that will always let me remember it, but sometimes you don’t need to have a scene like that. The film was consistent throughout and it’s not as if there are many action movies on top of a mountain so I think I’ll definitely remember this film for quite a long time. It is intense so I’d recommend waiting for it to be on TV, but then you’re set for a solid action film. You’ll get to see Gabe put his boxing moves to good use here. The villains never stood a chance to be honest. Now if only the cops could have done something to help. That would have been the icing on top.

Overall 7/10