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127 Hours - Blu-ray Review

 

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127 Hours Movie Review

5 stars

With 127 Hours, a film based on the book titled Between a Rock and a Hard Place, filmmaker Danny Boyle finds himself in a challenging predicament. One certainly not as dire and consequential as that faced by his cocky canyoneering protagonist, but in the small scope of creating an interesting film from a one-man setting, as equally daunting.

In 2003, the then 23-year-old Aron Ralston (James Franco), an experienced mountaineer on a solo hike in the desolate canyons near Moab, Utah, got trapped when a boulder became dislodged and pinned his right forearm to the canyon wall. After the titular amount of time, dehydrated, and desperate, Ralston resorted to the nearly unthinkable to free himself - imagine what a raccoon might do if caught in an iron leg trap.

Because fans of the book and presumably most in the audience know there’s never a question of Ralston’s surviving the dilemma, Boyle could not simply rely on the element of tension or suspense brought about by the question of the hiker’s survival. The opening credits note that Ralston wrote the book, so, all that’s left is the ordeal itself and a man alone with his thoughts… oh, and Boyle’s filmmaking skills. So, how to make an interesting feature-length film when most of the story consists of a motionless guy trapped alone for nearly a week? If you’re Danny Boyle, just be Danny Boyle.

The first challenge is to inject relevance and purpose into something likely to be perceived as a voyeuristic event for many looking to get their next torture porn fix. There’s certainly no escaping the stigma of being “the film about the guy who resorts to cutting off his own arm to survive.” And while Boyle certainly never holds back with regards to the gruesome nature of the act itself, it never feels gratuitous or cheap. We’ve experienced Ralston’s downward spiral, now, thanks to Boyle’s artistic vision, and a smile on Franco’s face just before the final piece of sinew is severed, we also share in the elation of his imminent freedom. We can finally loosen our grip on the theater armrest.

Another crucial aspect of Boyle’s success is keeping things lively and interesting. As his situation and health rapidly deteriorate, so ramps up the gravity of Ralston’s predicament. Through some creative camera work, the intimacy of his tiny world that consists of a water bottle, some rope, a flashlight, a camcorder and a multi-purpose knife, is juxtaposed against the vastness of the Utah desertscape. In one particularly revealing sequence, the camera quickly zooms from a close-up of Franco’s face, up through the slot canyon and out to an ultra-wide shot of the entire Moab desert. The desolation and desperation of Ralston’s situation is surely known by him… now we understand.

The psychological and physiological effects of a desperate man are played to maximum effect as well. As Ralston grows increasingly delirious, he flashes back to the mistakes he’s made, the dreams of his future, and the seemingly simple hope of just getting a tiny sip of water. But the flashbacks aren’t presented in the typical sense. After all, this IS a Danny Boyle film. The memories are cleverly brought down and integrated right into the crevice, allowing us to become slightly confused participants in the hallucinations. Is he really being rescued, or are the blurred visions just the fuzzy lines separating imagination from reality? The trippy A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) score deserves mention as well, as it weaves its way nicely into the film’s harsh fabric while never calling excessive attention to itself.

As for trying to piece together a message, or in finding some worldly purpose to it all, Boyle and co-writer Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) are far from committed to the obvious. Through his delusional musings, the once aloof Ralston seems to be finally realizing that maybe he does really need other people to lead a fulfilled life. But one could also argue that it’s a cautionary tale about man vs. nature… and that it’s much easier for nature to win. Doesn't matter. Regardless of the film’s ultimate purport, or its greater existential purpose in the meaning of life, what can hardly be argued is the power and influence it holds over its audience. It’s one of the year’s best films. Go see it now.

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127 Hours Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images.
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer
: Danny Boyle; Simon Beaufoy
Cast: James Franco; Kate Mara; Amber Tamblyn
Genre: Adventure | Drama
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Official Site: www.foxsearchlight.com/127hours
Tagline: There is no force more powerful than the will to live.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Oops."
Theatrical Release Date: November 12, 2010
Blu-ray Release Date:
Not yet announced.

Synopsis: 127 Hours is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's (James Franco) remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he is finally rescued. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers (Clemence Poesy), family, and the two hikers (Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara) he met before his accident. Will they be the last two people he ever had the chance to meet? A visceral thrilling story that will take an audience on a never before experienced journey and prove what we can do when we choose life.

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127 Hours

Component Grades
Movie
 
Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars
 
4 stars
     
Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 1, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Digital copy (on disc); BD-Live
Playback: region A, B

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Director Danny Boyle, producer Christian Colson, and co-writer Simon Beaufoy

Special Features:

  • BD-Live Exclusive - James Franco in Conversation with Theatre/Opera Director Peter Sellars (720p, 3:53)Deleted Scenes (1080p, 34:13)
  • Search & Rescue (1080p, 14:51)
  • 127 Hours: An Extraordinary View (1080p, 35:30)
  • Short Film - The God of Love (1080p, 18:46)
  • BD-Live Exclusive - James Franco in Conversation with Theatre/Opera Director Peter Sellars (720p, 3:53)

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