makalu's Movie Review of 127 Hours

Rating of

127 Hours

127 Hours is a hell of a ride
makalu - wrote on 01/22/11

Plot Summary: In Danny Boyle's127 Hours, Aron Ralston (James Franco) is stuck in the penultimate "between a rock and a hard place" scenario: his arm, after an ill fated tumble down a slot canyon, has been trapped between a boulder and the canyon wall. With no means of communicating with the outside world and no hope of rescue (his decision to avoid discussing his travel planes with friends and family wasn't a brilliant move), Aron must find a way to escape his predicament while contemplating the events in his life that lead him to this point.

Review: 127 Hours is a rare movie that grabs you by the balls in the first ten seconds and keeps squeezing until the tension is unbearable. Considering the confined corridor the film takes place in, along with the limited cast of characters, this seems like a near Herculean task. But, with Danny Boyle's wiz bang direction and James Franco giving the most entertaining performance of the year, the film moves with a grace unmatched by most modern filmmakers. The cinematography is great, everything from a "Holy crap this is insane!" mountain biking montage through beautiful Canyonlands park to the sheer number of different shots used to highlight Aron's predicament while trapped in the canyon. Although spending an hour in a canyon sounds like it would be boring beyond belief, Boyle keeps it interesting through flashbacks that show the experiences that led Aron to become trapped, as well as premonitions of his future should he escape his natural prison. Also punctuated throughout the film are Aron's attempts to escape, ranging from a brutish attempt to dislodge the rock with force to a gradual attempt to erode the rock by picking at it with a knife that pales in comparison to anything the Swiss army would use. These attempts, although ultimately useless, are exhilarating to watch and build nicely to a nerve shattering climax.

Of course, all of this would be useless without a lead that could carry the story. Fortunately, Franco is more than up to the task. Jumping between moments of comedy and charisma to soul crushing scenes of defeat and agony, Mr. Franco never misses a beat in a performance that is worthy of all praise being bestowed upon it. Unfortunately, the film isn't without its problems. While some flashback scenes work towards creating a personality for Aron while giving perspective on his past, a large number of them revolving around a past relationship are underdeveloped and do little to deepen the character or put Aron's current situation into some form of context. There are also some poor visual effects in the form of CG ants that torment Aron and a few shots of the trapped arm that accentuate some of its faker features.

Despite these minor gripes, 127 Hours is one hell of a ride. Franco's performance is a roller-coaster in and of itself, the movie stays taunt and entertaining throughout, and the jaw dropping cinematography more than makes up for the price of Admission.

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