The Mountain Between Us is bad. It is. But it didn't have to be. The premise, while unoriginal and painstakingly done to death, could've led to an at least mildly interesting film. Survival stories are common. Good survival stories... less so, but the genre isn't dead yet. Just look at 127 Hours. Granted, it's been seven years since that film's release, but it remains invigorating. It take a premise even simpler than this; a man stuck in the middle of nowhere with his hand trapped underneath a rock, and it elevates it into cinematic beauty, so much so that the Academy recognised it and justifiably nominated it for several Oscars, including Best Picture. Even with their simple premises, life remains in the genre. It's just not very apparent here.
Except, there's a twist. This isn't a survival story. This is a love story. I'll pause and wait while you get your groans out of the way. Yes, this is a survival romance movie, in which someone who spends the entire first half of the movie complaining about how they've missed their wedding winds up falling in love with this total stranger who, quite frankly, didn't come across as all that friendly. The film's survival elements are exhausting, and not in a good way. They're bland, lacking suspense and incredibly predictable, but at least there's glimmers of excitement. A scene with cougars requires you to suspect your disbelief drastically, but it remains fun and thrilling. Screenwriters Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe actually had their heads in the game. It's the romantic elements that ruin this film.
Elba plays it very straight, but controlling, almost to the point where he comes off as somewhat of a dick. Then, on the other hand, Winslet's character is so poorly written and underdeveloped that she was unable to connect with and completely shallow through and through. Perhaps this isn't the screenwriter's faults, they've both done great work before, but instead that of the book's author. Still, when adapting it to film, adding in further characterization goes a long way. Maybe the book's great, I haven't read it, but if this is any indication then it doesn't seem suited for a big screen adaptation. The editing is choppy and unaware of time, and while some shots do impress (a tracking shot in a plane in particular), nothing about this film blew me away in the slightest.
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