Combustible Celluloid
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With: Alex Honnold, Sanni McCandless, Jimmy Chin, Tommy Caldwell
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running Time: 100
Date: 09/28/2018

Free Solo (2018)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Mountain Man

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This National Geographic mountain-climbing documentary, about those intrepid climbers that don't use ropes, focuses on Alex Honnold as he prepares to climb Yosemite's El Capitan Wall. There's some beautiful cinematography here, and Marco Beltrami provides an inspiring score, but Honnold comes across as somewhat arrogant and not much fun to spend time with. The movie pulls a trick, where Honnold's first attempt is aborted, presumably because he doesn't like all the cameras and people watching. The second time is also captured on camera (otherwise we wouldn't be seeing it), but somehow, this time it's all okay. The most off-putting is the attitude that free soloers are true warriors that know how to live life, thus indirectly implying that the rest of us are not and do not. However, the final climbing sequence is truly gripping, a real breath-holder. (Maybe it should have been a documentary short?)
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