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127 Hours (DVD)
Member Name: thedevilinme
127 Hours (DVD)
Date: 25/02/12, updated on 26/02/12 (62 review reads)
Advantages: Looks good
Disadvantages: Not really a film here
Star - Danny Boyle
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 94 minutes
Country - USA
Genre - Adventure
Oscars - 6 nominations
Rental - 99p a night @Blockbusters
So, 127 Hours, Danny Boyles latest, my current favorite director now a big player in Hollywood and so getting to do the films he wants to do, decent size budgets if need be. Problem is he reverts back to what he knows best and does small niche movies with that bigger budget flexibility, the appeal of seeing some bloke cut his arm off after having it trapped behind a boulder for six days hardly appealing to the masses, especially the squeamish ones. You don't want to be packed into a cinema in the middle seats if you don't like blood and guts and of a nervous disposition for this one, people hauled out on gurneys at the first few screenings. You can imagine the conversation the very likeable Boyle had with the studio executives in his broad Sheffield accent when they asked him what he would like to do next after the amazing success of Slumdog Millionaire, a subtitled movie that bought in an unprecedented $280 million gross, just how good Boyle can be. Oscar winners making that much money, especially with subtitles, are very rare indeed. I admire the fact he only wants to make the films he believes in but it takes some confidence to make this one engaging and palatable.
James Franco ... Aron Ralston
Kate Mara ... Kristi
Amber Tamblyn ... Megan
Sean Bott ... Aron's Friend (as Sean A. Bott)
Koleman Stinger ... Aron Age 5
Treat Williams ... Aron's Dad
Kate Burton ... Aron's Mom
Bailee Michelle Johnson ... Sonja Age 10
Parker Hadley ... Aron Age 15
Canyoneer Aron Ralston (James Franco) is heading off the grid on his mountain bike, leaving behind his worries, mobile phone and friends for the day, the nearby Slot Canyon in the Utah National Park his intended desert playground.
Off his bike he meets two pretty college students out hiking, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn), persuading them to come on a short cut and swim in a romantic hidden rock pool (you've seen the clip) called the Blue John cave. The three have fun and agree to meet at a party that weekend, the girls going on their way, Aron continuing his short cut on foot.
Clambering across and through a gap on the burnt umber and rich orange smooth rock formation he dislodges a big boulder above him that traps his arm, his forearm squashed to the thickness of cardboard. After screaming for help and freaking out for a while he realizes he is not going to be able to escape or call for help in a hurry.
As night sets in its clear he has a major problem, no cell phone, GPS or messages left with friends to tell them where he may be and the two girls the only ones that may raise the alarm at a party and half cut and so none the wiser, so Aron well and truly screwed.
With minimal water and food not going to last too long, by day two he is catching drips of rain and deciding what he can use from his rucksack to escape, a penknife and a sharp can edge the most daunting, recording it all on his camcorder. By day four he is dehydrated and hallucinating and beginning to fear the worse as clearly no one has any idea where he is and this may be his grave, he the desert road kill now to be eaten by predators. The final solution is approaching to save his life and it's not pretty, Ralston biting off more than he can chew, if you excuse the pun...
My first and last Danny Boyle films are the ones I like least, that of this one and that of Shallow Grave. The critics liked 127 hours and it garnered lots of Oscar nominations, including Best Film and James Franco's excellent lead turn for Best Actor, the clear highlight of the film but getting no wins in the shakeout. The dreams and hallucination dimension to the film allows Boyle some artistic license to introduce new characters to make it slightly less claustrophobic and interesting but not enough to make you really like this as a film in my opinion. The limited contents in Franco's rucksack make for blatant product placement opportunities for the films backers throughout as the camcorder and watch model are displayed clearly in most scenes and a well known soda or two in the scenes in-between. These are the sturdy and refreshing products that kept him alive during his impossible ordeal after all so all outward bound adventurers buy them now! The truth is most people die from injuries that are untreated for far too long, not sips of Coca Cola and talking to a Japanese electrical product.
The actual act of cutting through his arm is gruesome and graphic enough but sounds far worse so have the fast forward handy guys. Think Pulp Fiction and the blood in the syringe moment and your there or there about. It's also the first time he expresses pain for his arm injury which was another big liberty taken here. It seemed not to hurt for 120 of the 127 hours. Even the Roadrunner would yelp from a boulder that size trapping his tail with a big throbbing carton thumb to follow. For 90 long minutes he is lodged there and we are completely reliant on Danny Boyle's unquestioned directing skills to keep this an interesting feature film and I don't really think it does that.
Like Touching the Void, they are amazing stories of the human spirit that need to be told, two extremes of temperatures, one in the icy mountains and glaciers, the other in the desert heat, beautiful wild panoramas to complement. But, ultimately, you know these guys escape their predicament and you suspect they did because they were not 100% honest in what actually happened so they can cash in on what is, in truth, incompetence displayed in their chosen sports. The actual recording of the real events the film is based on remain locked away in Ralston's lawyers safe as they know doubt don't show Aron in a far less than heroic way the movie presents him, Franco playing him as a wise cracking handsome and humorous and pragmatic chap to the last. The reality would be yucky and far from glamorous, a feature film we would never see. But Danny had been waiting four years to do the movie since he was one of a very small group to see the tapes and here it is.
Touching the Void, where the two climbers come a cropper in a winter storm in South America, was the far better film because you had the testy dynamic between two men and one having to sacrifice his friend to save his own skin, what made that film, whilst here its just one guy who cant move and slowly realizing he is going to have to hack his arm off with a penknife. To quote Danny Boyle, he describes 127 Hours as "an action movie with a guy who can't move".
According to Wikipedia, back in 2004 Aron Ralston went back to the scene of the accident with an American news crew to scatter the ashes of his amputated arm over the boulder that had trapped him. Apparently It took 13 men, a winch, and a hydraulic jack to lift the boulder high enough to retrieve Aron's arm from the canyon, putting into context how trapped he was.
For its $18 million budget it did $57 million back, good business. But for me it was a film I couldn't learn to love because of its grim subject matter and so one I will leave you to judge alone by watching it as I'm in the minority. At least he didn't get his penis stuck under a rock! That would be a tougher watch even than Brokeback Mountain for a straight guy like me.
Imdb.com: 7.8/10 from 116,486 users
Metacritc.com - 82% critics approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 94% critics approval rating
Movienews.com - "Franco's fine, committed performance is undercut by a script that offers no real insight into his character and by those end clips of the real-Ralston doing his thang' one is left to wonder did this life changing miracle change his life at all"?
The Sun - "Essentially Franco in a one-man show, and his charm and enthusiasm instantly win us over".
The Arizona Message -"It's an incredible performance by Franco, walking the line between what once was enthusiasm but now is manic desperation".
The Telegraph "...immaculate in its technical aspects, not just in the way the camera hunts down interesting images but in its pitch perfect casting and ... sound design. This is the sort of movie you admire more for its virtuosity than its story"
Summary: A rare Danny Boyle misfire