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127 Hours Review

Joseph’s Rating: 9/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.3/10
(4 reviews total)

127 Hours is the latest in a string of well-made films from director Danny Boyle, and is his first film following the huge Oscar-winning success of Slumdog Millionaire. Here he tells the story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), the ill-fated (or not, depending on how you look at it) hiker who journeyed alone into the Canyonlands of Southern Utah, only to fall and pin his arm between a rock and a cavern wall.

Most of us are familiar with the story and its turnout, which has Ralston cutting off his arm with a multi-tool and hiking 11 miles before escaping. We have also no doubt heard about the infamous amputation scene and the patrons that required medical attention from fainting. With most films, this sort of knowledge might spoil our experience of the film (“Why’d you tell me the ending!?”), but as the saying goes, it’s about the journey, not the destination, and Boyle and company do an exquisite job giving the audience a truly cathartic experience. While watching, I was extremely aware of the feeling in my right hand. I felt thirsty when Ralston did; when the infamous scene happened I grasped my own arm and clenched my teeth. His reminiscences of old girlfriends and family moments triggered my own. 

How Boyle goes about this speaks of his abilities. His wisest decision was casting Franco, who’s come a very, very long way from the Spider-man flicks, where I cast him off as a talent on par with Hayden Christensen and suspected he’d get his fifteen minutes then leave. Yet with each film he does he showcases his growth as an actor. His work here does put him into that small circle of actors that receive Oscar hype every year. He takes us through Ralston’s ordeal with horror, despair and humor, transitioning through each phase believably and easily. One darkly funny, yet tragic moment, had Ralston attempting to pleasure himself, as it just might be the last time he can, only to be unsuccessful.


 

For a film that pretty much takes place in one location, Boyle does an excellent job of moving things along. There are just a couple brief bits in the middle that feel a little long, but essentially that can be chalked up to the catharsis mentioned earlier. He uses quick cuts and flashbacks to break up the action, which helps us get to know him better as a person while at the same time giving us the briefest of respites from this horrible situation. 

Just a quick comment about the amputation scene. While it is unpleasant and gory, I think it was actually the sound effects that made it so hard to stomach (I’m told they cracked celery in half for the sound of his arm breaking). Just another example of Boyle thinking outside the box and doing something a lesser filmmaker would’ve abandoned in favor of something more grotesque and obvious.

127 Hours took what many considered an unfilmable event and allowed us to be placed in the shoes of Aron Ralston as he endured an unbelievable struggle. It’s certainly one of the better films this year.

Rating: 9/10 

127 Hours
Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Aron Ralston (book)
Starring: James Franco, Amber Tamblin, Kate Mara 

Other Player Affinity Reviews

Dinah thought: “It may not be all it’s hyped up to be, but 127 Hours is a quality independent picture. James Franco is greatly helped by Danny Boyle to make this one man show interesting. Pulse pounding music, frenetic editing, and intentional cutaways to hallucinations and flashbacks to break the monotony. Boyle achieves with 127 Hours what Rodrigo Cortés could not with Buried. He made a single point of view picture dramatic and entertaining.” Rating: 8/10 

Steven thought: “This could have easily been a compelling but plain and ordinary documentary on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic about a man pinned under a boulder who miraculously survives. Boyle, however, transforms it into a powerful statement about the will to live and where that motivation truly comes from. None of the impact of “127 Hours,” however, is possible without Franco. A film about a man trapped in a crevice for more than five days needs a heck of a lead actor and the believability of Franco’s performance remains constant and irrefutable.  Yet remarkably, Boyle leaves a substantial thumbprint on the film. Because the story is so straightforward, he recognizes imagery and perception provide his only means of creativity and gives us various perspectives through visual and sound editing. The build-up and catharsis of Aron’s story might not be the most powerful and uplifting based-on-true-story you’ve witnessed, but “127 Hours” clearly surpasses expectation in terms of the message it sends and the impact it leaves.” Rating: 9/10

Simon thought: “The Beach excluded (you know what, not even), I have never seen a Danny Boyle film where I thought Danny Boyle was the weak link. Shoving aside a plot synopsis that has been described, and discussed, and vomited-because-of to death, James Franco
is 127 Hours and the director’s manic presentation and style truly detracts from what could have been an experience more like the aching tragic Ryan Reynolds vehicle, Buried. Instead, Boyle makes it Slumdog Millionaire, a kinetic adventure (the man is in a hole, use it). This is an unwieldy kaleidoscope of style during many portions and the approach unfortunately numbs the genius portions of the screenplay including an inspired self-hosted talk show between Franco’s Aaron Ralston and, yes, himself. 127 Hours is an extremely solid film which benefits from an unconventionally mounted but expert fourth act twist and a great deal of vision; it is too bad that Boyle ironically let that vision suffocate in the same way as our protagonist.” Rating: 7.5/10

Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.3/10 

Rating
8.3

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