Director Hany Abu-Assad's latest film "The Mountain Between Us" is a perfect candidate for interactive movie watching - an unused but practical format that allows the movie watch to replace re plug-in lines from the script. I can't remember feeling so compelled as to offer alternate dialog as I was while watching this survival/adventure/romance drama.


A series of director changes, script re-writes and talent re-castings got us to the film we have today. The original director was Gerardo Naranjo with the script by J. Mills Goodloe. Michael Fassbender and Margot Robbie were the original leads who quickly dropped out when things started falling apaprt. When Hany Abu-Assad took over as director, the seconds set of leads - Charlie Hunnam and Rosamund Pike bailed out. Finally Idris Elba and Kate Winslet were hired in the leads.

The film opens with Alex (Winslet) learning that her flight from Idaho to Denver has been cancelled due to a snowstorm. Dr Ben Bass (Elba) learns the same thing and tries to explain that he is expected in a life or death surgery [We've heard that one before].


Things seem destined to be kaput until Alex comes up with an idea to hire a private plane - she just must get to Denver so that she can be in her wedding. They find a pilot named Walter (Beau Bridges) who just so happens to won a twin engine prop plane that will easily make it to Denver - damned the snow. His dog - a lovely labrador - will be his co-pilot.


Naturally, they take off fine and are well on their way to Denver when Walter suffers a massive heart attack. All is lost as the softly plummet into the moountains and crash land on some nice soft snow. Walter is dead. The dog is in surprisingly great health as is Ben. Alex is injured just enough so that the good doctor can patch her up.

Now the conundrum: stay and freeze to death in the shell of the plane or strike out in the snow and freeze to death. That decision was aided by a visit by the local mountain lion in one of the oddest animal attack scenes ever written. The big cat easily defeats the dog, but isn't satisfied, he must eat Alex... Um...


They strike out down the mountain overcoming one obstacle after another. Remember, Alex is still on the mend and sporting a home-made splint. Rations are few, but that's not a problem beca8use if push comes to shove, they can eat the dog - who has recovered surprisingly well from the mountain lion fight.


They happen to find an abandoned cabin and hunker down there when, with an explosion of suppressed passion, Alex and Dr Ben make woopie. It's really at this point you'll start inserting your own dialog.


As with "The Revenant" and just about any other survival story filmed in the Canadian Rockies, the vistas are spectacular. Not spectacular enough for you to overlook the script defects, but still very lovely. The talent did the best with what they were given but you can't help but wonder what the outtakes really look like. I know that it would have been hard for and African American actor (Idris is from England) to not want to adlib with obviously funny lines!


And even Winslet is given opportunities to practice her comedic chops had it not been for the desire to keep the film a drama and not a comedy/drama. And what about the lame ending?


"The Mountain Between Us" is hardly a great film, but it is a perfect film for replacing actors lines with your own really funny lines. It is literally three or four rough lines from being one of the funniest comedies of the year.   -- GEOFF BURTON