Blu-ray Review: The Mountain Between Us

I didn’t hate The Mountain Between Us the way some viewers and critics appeared to. Instead, it registered with me as one of those predictable survival films that so often waste good acting talent. Nothing to memorable, but nothing unforgivable, that is until the movies last moments, when the entire premise crashes in on itself, like something you might see on a Hallmark Channel Movie of the Week,

As the film begins, it’s late December, and strangers Ben (Idris Elba, Finding Dory) and Alex (Kate Winslet, Titanic) are stranded at an airport in Idaho. All the flights have been grounded due to a coming storm, but Ben, a neurosurgeon, needs to get to Baltimore to perform surgery on a young boy in the morning. Alex, a photojournalist, must get to New York for her wedding. So, the new acquaintances come up with a plan: They’ll charter a flight to Denver, and catch connections from there. For $800, a private pilot named Walter (Beau Bridges, Two-Minute Warning) agrees to Ben and Alex to Denver in his piper, and Walter’s dog comes along for the ride.

Predictably, things start to go wrong shortly after takeoff. As the fly over the mountains, the storm seems to be getting worse, even scarier, Walter is slurring his words! It’s soon clear to Ben that the pilot has suffered a stroke.  The plane is plummeting into the mountains! Ben and Alex’s efforts to fly the plane fail, as they violently crash in the mountains. They wake up, he with cuts, and broken ribs, she with a nasty gash in her thigh, still sheltered in a piece of the plane, but surrounded by the wintry, ominous mountains. Of course, Walter is dead, but his dog has survived the crash, and soon becomes almost as central to the cast as Alex and Ben. Since Walter didn’t file a flight plan, and the beacon is broken, no one is looking for them.

And so, the rather predictable peril begins. With no cell service, and the flair guns to alert any jets overhead out of commission, Alex thinks they should leave the wreckage and take their chances on foot. Meanwhile, the more cautious Ben would rather stay put, in hopes of rescue. As her leg heels, the two get to know each other, keeping warm by setting fire to an airplane seat. After a tussle with a hungry cougar, and the realization that help isn’t coming settles in, they finally leave the wreckage. From there it becomes a fight for survival—somewhat predictable—but a fight nonetheless.

Ben wears a wedding ring, but never talks about his wife. Enjoyably, up to this point, there is no hint of romance. However, it’s not long before their trek forces them to cuddle together to fend off freeing temperatures. From there, The Mountain Between Us becomes less concerned with emphasizing the survival aspect of the narrative, in favor of a clumsy love story. Both Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are talented actors, but the chemistry between them is negligible. The ending is as corny as gets. The snow-capped mountains are gorgeous (“a million miles of pure-ass nature,” Beau Bridges’ pilot, Walter, says. That alone makes the film worth a rent for those who love nature.

Presented in the 239:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer looks gorgeous, particularly the outdoor scenes in the Canadian Rockies. Details are stunning, allowing you to see individual textures, patterns, and tones. Colors are well balanced, and blacks are inky. A scene late in the film when they discover a cabin exhibits some crushed blacks. Otherwise, this is a fine transfer.

The English DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix is as solid as the transfer. Dialogue is well balanced and clear. Sound effects are well placed, providing plenty of activity and ensuring a lively atmosphere. The constant swirl of wind, and the crunch of heavy snow is a constant standout. For the most part, all channels are active, but there are a few occasions when things sound slightly more front-loaded. Aside from the plane crash, this is a film that relies on subtle sound effects, and this mix does a good job of highlighting them.

English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Hany Abu-Assad.
  • Love and Creating Chemistry (HD, 12:42) A typical EPK about how the film came together. Features interviews with members of the cast and crew.
  • Mountain Between Them: Shooting in Isolation (HD 10:17) A look at how the heck they shot the film in the Canadian Rockies.
  • The Wilds: Survival Stunts (HD 5:47) A brief look at the stunt work for the film.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 14:15) Available with optional commentary from director Hany Abu-Assad.
  • Gallery (HD, 2:03) Available with a Manual Advance or an Auto Advance option. The timing is for the Auto Advance option.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:14)
  • DVD
  • Digital HD
  • Movie
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

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