Free Solo (2018) Poster


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Powerful Inspiration
doron-8739418 October 2018
No, I'm not inspired to free climb El Capitan or any slope. I'm an 84 year old retired businessman still trying to figure out how to best live my life, and I left the theater last night in awe of Alex Honnald's achievement -- climbing an almost vertical granite wall in a little over three hours when, in any second, the slightest mistake would result in death.

Watching Alex do it -- watching the joy in his face when he got beyond some of the most difficult challenges as well as on the top,\; watching the intense focus and concentration as he sought safe holds; watching what I read as his quiet determination and confidence when he approached the wall for his solo climb -- these images will be with me for the balance of my life.

They will return to me when I need focus and concentration in the moment to achieve something. They will return to me when I need to build confidence and determination to achieve a goal. They will return to me as I examine and release thoughts of fear that I conjure up (but I'm not blessed, as Alex is, with an amygdala that does not respond to fear inducing visions).

Thank you, Alex, for the powerful inspiration.
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Great bio-pic / climbing movie
mtlott6 October 2018
I've wanted to see this film since I first heard it was being made. Reading about the soloing of El Cap in the summer of 2017, I was riveted. The film is just as, if not more, powerful than the best articles at the time.

Alex Honnold is, well, a bit of a weirdo, but I would not expect less from someone who has achieved something no other human being has. As he says at one point in the movie, "No one who is comfortable and cozy has ever achieved anything great."

The sequences of him climbing are extraordinary, terrifying, emotional, moving and awe-inspiring. Not just the sequences of El Cap, but all around the world.

But, there is so much more: his relationship with his family, his friends, and girlfriend are ... complicated. His recipe for potato-spinach-chili is sublime, and the method by which he consumes his food ... unique.

Go see this movie now! Why don't distribution companies release movies like this wider? I had to drive 30 miles to see it instead of 2 miles to my local cinema. Not everyone wants to see CGI-heavy superhero movies, especially when real superheroes exist.
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Absolute horror
joninimaki13 February 2019
By far one of the best horror films I have ever seen.
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A masterpiece by directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
johnfkitchen12 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
You had me at "Jimmy Chin", and "El Cap", so I checked out the trailer, and it looked pretty good. However I was unprepared for the reality. Trailers so often pick out some highlights and leave an expectation which is left unfulfilled.

The trailer didn't prepare me for the way this doc is crafted, the sequencing, the steady relentless buildup of emotion.

The trailer didn't prepare me for the visceral anxiety of the film crew, their inability to watch the viewfinder as Alex performed crux moves which could have resulted in him plummeting out of frame. The close ups of Alex's fingers on nubs if rock, his climbing shoes relying on tiny irregularities to retain grip, and his perfectly balanced moves displayed the craft of his skills. Non rock-climbers will learn an appreciation from watching this and climbers will revel.

I had no idea that I'd have to will myself to breathe to survive this movie, despite knowing the successful outcome.

I also had no expectation that I'd have to fight back tears during a documentary to stop them obscuring my vision.

Alex's achievement is extraordinary, as is the crafting of this movie. A documentary like no other. I've pre-ordered it so I can repeat the experience as often as I can stand it.

Incidentally, if you have the equipment to watch 360° video on YouTube, such as the PlayStation PSVR, there's a brief 360° promo called, I think, Free Solo 360. Experiencing hanging in space part way up El Cap is quite something.
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The most amazing Human achievement I've ever witnessed
jordanparton7 October 2018
This movie shows the humanity, insanity, and personal struggle for perfection it takes to do things that no one else has done and few to none have tried to accomplish. Possible the best movie I have ever seen in terms of drawing you in, keeping a strangle hold on your attention, and not just rushing to the juicy parts but letting you savor the journey. Alex Honnold you are an inspiration to the world. Never stop. "What you are afraid to do is a clear indicator of the next thing you need to do." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Does not disappoint - and I was expecting a lot
gnelson364 October 2018
Coincidentally, our family did a hiking vacation in Yosemite a week after Alex Honnald did this climb. I knew nothing about climbing but our guided hike took us to the top of El Capitan. I was unable or unwilling to get within 100 yards of the edge - since at 101 yards there was a 3000 foot cliff.

That someone climbed this face without ropes (Ok, or with ropes) amazes me and I have been waiting for this movie since I heard about its production. It is a documentary and while you know the end before it starts, it is still one of the more suspenseful movies I've seen.
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Death-defying feat will leave you stunned
paul-allaer20 October 2018
"Free Solo" (2018 release; 96 min.) is a bio-pick about Alex Honnold and his historic 2017 climb of Yosemite's El Capitan. As the movie open, we see Alex in the later stage of that climb, and the images immediately will cause you to gasp. We then go back to "Spring 2016", when Alex is doing a book tour and comments about why he does what he does. "Chances of falling off are low, but the consequences are high", he wryly observes. Ater a few minutes recapping Alex's upbringing, it isn't long before the movie centers on El Capitan, "the center of the rock-climbing universe"... At this point we are 10 min. into the movie, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest documentary from (real life couple) Jimmy Chan and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, who previously brought us the equally excellent "Meru", one of my favorite movies of 2014. Here they document the extraordinary feat accomplished by Alex Hannold of conquering the 3,200 ft. El Capitan. While the movie does well putting everything into the proper context, in particular Alex's budding relationship with his new girlfriend, what makes this so remarkable is that we, the audience at large (whom I suspect are not experts in rock climbing, let alone free solo climbing) are shown how technical and challenging it is to climb up El Capitan, let alone doing it free solo. Alex does many trial runs to grasp and master the most difficult parts of the climb. The last half hour brings us the actual free solo climb (on June 3, 2017), and even though we know the outcome (Alex lives!), it is still stupefying and almost impossible to watch (I admit I covered my eyes on a number of occasions). There are simply no words for it.

"Free Solo" opened in late September in limited release, and immediately caused a sensation. The movie finally opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday evening screening where I saw this at was PACKED to the rafters in the largest room of the 6 screen theater, something I haven't seen in YEARS. The movie is going to be a box office smash in the art-house theater circuit, and sure to be nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar. Whether you have any interest in rock climbing or not, if you want to see one of the greatest human achievements in sports or you are a thrill-seeker, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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Hands so sweaty I needed chalk in the theater!
rob-amazon11 October 2018
Took my 9yo who occasionally climbs with me and she really dug it.
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The highest accomplishment of mankind ever
peter-6184916 February 2019
Having been a climber for over 30 years, I can entirely understand and appreciate what's going on inside of the spirit. Having gone up El Cap myself, I can entirely feel the enormity of this endeavor shown in this film. However, I know how hard it is to climb at a 5.12 level, let alone a 5.13. Even a 5.11 goes beyond the imagination of most human beings on this planet. And I'm still talking "being roped up and safe". Now accepting the thought of free soloing anything at 5.11 and above, even for just a hundred feet, chapeau to those who have the mental strength and physical preparedness to do so. However, what Honnold did, free soloing at up to 5.13 and on over 3000 feet of rock, goes beyond comprehension. Also, I'd like to share my entire appreciation to the film crew, as I'm entirely aware of the logistical challenges one has to manage to capture something like this film has shown us. Having friends on the wall, who met them on the wall, I also know that the film crew and Honnold had to go up the wall several times again. Truly incredible, the dedication they all put into this, I just can't find words to describe. It's hard to say if this will ever be done again. For sure I can say that this is the highest ever accomplishment in sports of mankind ever and I'm so thankful that this documentary has been able to share it with us.
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Slow to Climax
solemnphilosopher15 February 2019
Like others reviewers mention, they could have reduced the time spent on Alex's relationship with his girlfriend. I didn't mind her, but I was just not into that aspect of the story.

Alex's notes were fascinating. Using that as a base, I wish they would have expanded on the terminology and techniques behind rock climbing. I am a layman and I was interested in the little bit that they showed in the film.

I also thought the final climb was a bit too short. I understand that they didn't want to smother Alex with cameras while doing a precarious climb. Nevertheless, I think they could have shown some of the easier parts of the climb to give a sense of the time and endurance required.

In any case, I found Free Solo to be interesting and recommend the documentary.
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A must see 5/5 Stars...Best Mountain climbing movie ever
mmess654 October 2018
It delves into the mental and physical struggle of achieving an almost impossible feat to FREE SOLO, Yosemite's El Capitan the greatest slap of granite in the world! A must see 5/5 Stars Best mountain climbing movie ever!
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Response to Flick11's and vincecartelli's questions
tnsquash18 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Flick11: The white spot you see is a parachute. Dean Potter pioneered the use of a base jumping parachute as protection for free soloing. He died a few years ago in a wingsuit crash.

vincecartelli: The credits are listed alphabetically. It's not a slight to anyone. If you don't know who Tommy Caldwell is, you should look him up. He has been Alex's climbing partner for years.
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Could have been so much better
potzenfeter1 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoyed the first part of the movie. But after a while I became nervous, because the movie was moving on and on but he still hadn't start climbing. Exactly 20 minutes before the movie was over, he finally began to climb. The whole climbing scene took only 10-15 minutes. That's just way to short. I have no idea what the producers were thinking. But you can't make a movie or documentary or whatever about one of the greatest achievements in climbing, maybe even sport history and give his girlfriend more sceentime than the climb itself.
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Enjoyable film with an unfulfilled potential
Bjornek122 February 2019
I enjoyed watching this movie. The footage of free solo climbing gives adrenaline and sweaty hands. The glimpses into Alex' personality and relations with his family and girlfriend are interesting. And even more interesting are his reflections on life and death, that he has to consider when doing something so dangerous.

But I think the movie gives too little time to these interesting parts, and somewhere in the middle of the movie, when he and his girlfriend is looking at a house, I find myself bored. I was also left unsatisfied by the part involving the climb itself, giving too little time to show the amazing footage of the climb, and instead changing camera angles at a fast rate accompanied by dramatic music.

It is like the directors felt the need to emphasize how dramatic and thrilling the climb was, instead of letting the audience decide for themselves. I believe most people understand that climbing a steep hill with few grips, without any rope, has a huge risk. And the filming itself is breathtaking
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Love the documentary but
EricBombardier20 February 2019
As many people stated, the documentary is pretty awesome. Alex is a driven, focused climber and all around achiever. It's nice to finally see more of his private life, how he thinks, how he functions. But the portions about his relationship with his girlfriend spoils the whole experience quite a bit. Instead of a motivational input in his life, she is constantly nagging, bringing down the flow of energy to a halt, not participating in his achievements or drive towards them; she constantly puts a break on his effort to go forward. For as deep, selfless and introvert as Alex is, which is what is amazing to me in the first place, his girlfriend is the complete opposite on screen: she seems shallow, self absorbed and seemingly driven by getting Alex to let go of what makes him extraordinary to become more open, less of a dreamer and settle down to what is life according to her. I assume her personality is what attracts Alex, opposites attract, and that's fine, but as far as what makes a documentary about an exceptional feat done by an exceptional person, it makes for poor screen time.
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Not sure if stupid or incredible
umimelectric16 March 2019
Though I much prefer the documentary The Dawn Wall, this death defying climb doc is very exciting in its final moments. It's truly an amazing feat done by a suicidal, misanthropic athlete who prefers not to use safety gear. I didn't care for most of the documentary, because I don't find Alex to be a very sympathetic character, and I also think it focused too much on his dating life. He is who he is, and I respect that, but watching him share his opinions on love, relationships with others, and the importance of life in general was underwhelming to say the least. Whether he was putting on a bad boy show for the camera, or he really is this detached emotionally, his stubborn world view made him unlikable (to me at least). The results speak for themselves, and what he did was nothing short of incredible (-ly stupid).
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larrentheanimator22 October 2018
Ok. ok ok...I know what you are going to say, but Larren, this isn't a horror movie.

But, as my brother Dude would say..."I say Nay Nay."

If you haven't seen it, go see and tell me it isn't a horror movie. In every sense of the way, I was uncomfortable the entire time. It made me feel scared, measly, inadequate, and for sure lazy as hell.

It was stunningly beautiful and an anxiety filled nightmare at the same time.

Alex Honnold is humbling and completely nuts. I would like to be that dudes friend. He wins at LIFE

It was disgustingly horrific.

10/10 🔥🔪🔥🔪🔥🔪🔥🔪🔥🔪
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Alex can do things that make spider man look like an amateur
donpwest-5259414 October 2018
This is the best documentary I have ever seen. It takes you inside the mind and life of one of the world's best rock climbers. The visuals are incredible. You get to feel a bit what it is like to climb what to most of us would be a blank vertical wall rock wall overlooking heaven.
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Great achievement by the climber but not by the filmmakers...
zzooiiee7 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I watched it after its Oscar win and unfortunately I was left deeply dissapointed... Why did It win? Why? What the climber does is really one of the craziest things ever done in the history of sports but the filmmaking doesn't do it justice... No particular vision... No climax... An attempt to understand a man so unique unfortunately was left in the surface... And all the details captured on his personal life were just thrown in there without the special treatment and depth they deserved... This man deserved an amazing cinematic portrait and this film was definitely not that... My 6/10 is given for the 10 minutes of the actual free solo climb (which should have been 20 minutes) and the cuts to the camera operator who was basically us freaking out about what was happening...
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Life is not about happiness, it's about performance
denis-golomazov23 January 2019
It's a great movie. I usually rate 10/10 only a couple movies per year. This is one of them. It's just mind-blowing how dangerous and hard what's he's done. And what's important, it's not one of the things that seems hard for outsiders, but is actually not hard when you have a lot of experience in the subject. This achievement is unbelieveably hard even for the best professional climbers, as you can hear from Alex's friend's words, who is one of the best climbers in the world. But I wouldn't rate it 10 just for climbing achievement. I was impressed by the Alex's general attitude to life. His passage about happiness in life is remarkable. "Nothing great is achieved when people are happy and cozy. Life is not about happiness, it's about performance." I feel this is so wise and true. The movie itself is beautifully shot. The cinematography is amazing. It gives a very pleasant feeling when you see the gorgeous views of Yosemite, especially when you live in San Francisco and actually go to Yosemite a few times a year. The pace of the movie is nice, and it gains more and more suspense over time. When you watch Alex actually climbing El Capitan free solo, you're on the edge of the seat. You see how small the holds are and the feeling of excitement and anxiety overwhelms you (some people were even lightly moaning in the theater). You already know the outcome, but you still can't believe he will make it. But he does.
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20 minutes of actual content in a 90 minute film
veensenn24 February 2019
I would rather watch a 4 hour video of the ascent with Honnold's commentary.
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earlbelen2 October 2018
Amazing filmmaking. A unique documentary that grips you and holds you till the end. It was funny, heartbreaking and inspiring. I can't wait to see it again.
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Painful to watch.. not because of fear, but because of cringe
johntravolta123457 February 2019
A portrait of an extraordinary man with singular purpose, whose life is nearly irreversibly derailed by an obtuse, obnoxious, and painfully ignorant (albeit admittedly hot) young woman.

It was difficult to keep one's eyes on the screen scene whenever the girlfriend, Sanni, appeared. She is clearly unable to understand what it means to have a passion in life, to care about a purpose greater than oneself. All she thinks and talks about is herself - and despite causing our climber to injure himself twice, continues to pester him with her self-indulgent childish nonsense.

If she hadn't had the good sense to leave before his big climb (and one wonders whether it was really of her own accord, or thanks to the nudging of the filmmakers), the climb likely would have either never happened or ended in disaster.

It was truly breathtaking to see the actual climb on film, especially in IMAX - and the cinematography and production quality is top notch. But for the preceding hour and half, by focusing on his girlfriend for so much of the film, and trying to frame their superficial relationship as something actually meaningful to him detracted from this film. Made much of this "documentary" feel obnoxious at best, and dishonest at worst, for the sake of satisfying some glib romantic plot desire from the studio/producers.
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Achieving The Impossible
roblesar9926 September 2018
A rousing, crowd-pleasing documentary that showcases the extraordinary capacity of the human body to push itself to the extreme - or in the words of free solo climber Alex Honnold, "to reach perfection" - Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi's FREE SOLO makes for one of the most tense viewing experiences I've had in a theater this year. We already know how this documentary will end (any other sort of ending and this would have never been released), but Chin and Vaserhelyi nonetheless manage to convey a palpable sense of fear and tension throughout, as Honnold repeatedly practices climbs in preparation for his free solo climb of Yosemite's famed El Capitan, a 3,000 foot wall of sheer granite. Honnold makes for a fascinating subject as the climber at the heart of the story. Unlike literally 99% of other climbers, however, Honnold specializes in free soloing - climbing without using ropes or any other sort of protection. What Honnold does is insane, and the film repeatedly stresses the fact that one wrong move would result in his death. But Honnold's passion for free soloing is his lifeblood, and despite the inherent (and obvious) dangers of his profession, it's the one thing that keeps him going. I can't imagine what would ever possess Honnold (and others like him) to do what they do, but what I can say is that FREE SOLO captures his feats in breathtaking glory that left the audience in the theater cheering at the end.

Points off for the Tim McGraw song during the end credits, though.
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Not a climbing documentary
Weather-girl13 February 2019
Fascinating story but the fact the the girlfriend got more screen-time than the actual climb destroyed the whole movie.
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