"Beyond the Edge," a docudrama depicting the historic 1953 summiting of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, is screening in 3-D at the IFC Center.
Unfortunately, I didn't see it in that format and I'm pretty sure that if I had you could go ahead and add a half-star to the above rating, as the main reason to see this movie is the extraordinary footage of the mountain captured by director Leanne Pooley, producer Matthew Metcalfe and their team.
Otherwise, it's a pretty tepid depiction of the historic climb, complete with re-enactments that call needless attention to themselves and rob the story of the inherent drama.
The film weaves in ample period footage and hits its stride there, when it skews toward a more traditional documentary format. The narration, from the sons of Hillary and Norgay and others, offers useful perspective on the perils of ascending the 29,000-foot behemoth.
The movie exhuastively chronicles the many treacherous obstacles posed by the mountain's death zone and elsewhere, and it emphasizes the inescapable truth that the process of scaling Everest involves staring death in the face over and over again.
It's just a shame this story couldn't have been told in a livelier format, without being bogged down by the straightforward, cut-and-dry re-enactment approach, which feels like a stagy substitute for the real thing.
Previous documentaries such as the IMAX masterpiece "Everest" have more effectively covered the same terrain, and you can't help but wonder what someone like Werner Herzog ("Encounters at the End of the World") could have done with the story.