Parents need to know that "Mountain" is an awe-inspiring documentary that should be viewed on the biggest screen possible. Reminiscent of IMAX movies made for science museums, its sweeping, gorgeous, close-up imagery – combined with slow, calm, relaxing narration (delivered by Willem Dafoe) and symphonic music – creates an experience that viewers feel. The film encourages viewers to respect mountains: their magnificence, their deadly potential, and their place in Earth's ecosystem. Humanity's relatively modern need to use mountains as an adrenaline platform is explored. While the movie's message about the fact that people's need to conquer mountains can damage nature is delivered with gentle judgment, the extreme stunts shown in the film are equal parts cautionary and victory tales – and could both concern and inspire young viewers. Other than the scenes of perilous activity, there's no content of concern: no swearing, no sex, no drinking, drugs, or smoking.
WHAT'S THE STORY?
"Mountain" examines humanity's relationship with mountains. It begins by sharing the historical fact that, until relatively recently, people saw mountains only as obstacles. Now, many look at mountains as a challenge; the more potential danger, the stronger the lure to dominate. "Mountain" displays panoramic views of peaks across the globe juxtaposed with moments of extreme sports enthusiasts risking life and limb to master the massifs – all the while asking, at what cost?
IS IT ANY GOOD?
Nature has never been more beautiful, maybe not even in real life. Expansive camera work expertly glides viewers in and out of mountain ranges across the world. On a small screen, you'll get it; on a big screen, you'll live it. Accompanying the scenic views is an auditory experience that's just as luxe. The film opens with the Australian Chamber Orchestra tuning up and actor Willem Dafoe stepping up to the mic to narrate. Unspooling as if it's a dream, with Dafoe almost whispering in your ear, the film aims to ease you into a change of perspective.
The ensuing explosion of mountaineers, skiers, rock climbers, squirrel suit flyers, BASE jumpers, snowboarders, and stunt bike riders taking to the mountains shows how interacting with mountains has become an accepted pastime. Using eloquent, near-poetic language and soothing cadence, "Mountain" nudges viewers to think beyond the feats and ask why mountains are being used for sport – and what the long-term impact may be. In creating an awakening, "Mountain" director Jennifer Peedom succeeds. But the film's presentation is so peaceful and sonorous, it may lull more viewers to sleep than to action.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 10 and older
Quality: 4 out of 5
Positive messages: 3 out of 5
Positive role models: 1 out of 5
Violence: 3 out of 5
Sex: 0 out of 5
Language: 0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 1 out of 5
Consumerism: 1 out of 5
In theaters: May 11, 2018
Director: Jennifer Peedom
Studio: Greenwich Entertainment
Run time: 73 minutes
MPAA rating: PG
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