Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amer Tamblyn
Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama
Age Rating: 15
Running Time: 94 minutes
On Saturday 26th April 2003, Aron Ralston, an outdoor adventurist, went on a routine canyoneering trip into the Blue John Canyon, one of Utah’s most isolated, not letting any of his loved ones know. After exploring with a couple of other adventurists, Megan and Kristi, he went it alone and explored the deepest and darkest parts of what he considered to be his second home. It is here that he falls down a narrow canyon with a large boulder following him down, trapping his hand on the canyon wall.
This film follows Aron’s journey and the painful 127 hours (around 5 days) he went on to endure with his hand trapped by the nature he loves. James Franco puts his comedy to one side to play the role of Aron in this 94 minute feature directed by the visionary, Danny Boyle. To make a film which should be so static and tedious throughout, into an exciting and intense cinematic experience takes some talent.
Second to none, Franco’s performance is impressive! He brings to life the excruciating pain Aron must have experienced as well as demonstrating the toll it must have taken on his mind, as well as body, and the mental strength Aron Ralston must have had to endure it all.
It was unbelievable to see how much sunlight could mean to a man who only got to experience 15 minutes of it at 9:30 AM every morning. It was frightening to see the drop in temperature from 98 Fahrenheit to 44 Fahrenheit and how much it affected him to the point that he had to wrap rope around his neck, arms and legs to keep the slightest bit warm. Franco emphasised the levels of desperation Aron had to reach; eating his contact lenses, drinking his urine, stabbing his arm just so that he could feel something in his muscle again, as well as the level of despair it brought to him; longing for his ex-girlfriend, itching to hear his mother’s voice, hallucinating about drowning in water or sand, scribing his death on the wall next to him and admitting that it was destined to happen from the beginning of time.
Personally, this film surprised me! I had been delaying watching it for so long because I had always felt that I needed full concentration and dedication to watch it. Honestly though, Danny Boyle’s brilliance truly shows in this film, engrossing you in Aron’s excruciating journey and leading you to imagine yourself in that situation. Aron’s engagement with his video camera, the repetitive flashbacks and premonitions, the humour in terms of Aron’s “Live from the Boulder” recordings as well as Boyle’s ironic use of Bill Wither’s “A Lovely Day”, and particularly, the genius camera shot down the water bottle emphasising Aron’s desperation for water over the last couple of days, collectively show just how well Boyle engaged his audience.
The final scene is nail-biting to watch and others may well struggle to watch it, but overall, the film is a visually great experience which everybody should witness at some point. Its weakness, and what makes it only a 7.2 in my eyes, is that there are much better films out there. It is obviously an interesting story, but it’s not incredible. Let’s just say you don’t walk out of it blown away by the whole film, but simply shocked by the final twenty minutes of the film and impressed with James Franco’s acting, leading me to believe that he should leave his attempts at comedy back with PINEAPPLE EXPRESS which was actually great from him and stick to these types of films.
Recommendation: It’s one of those films that even if you know everything about it by the time you sit down and put it on, you’ve still got to witness it – just to take in what Aron Ralston went through in those 127 Hours! I recommend any format you wish for this one really – Blu-Ray probably doesn’t cost much these days and if you’d prefer to just watch it on Netflix or something go ahead! No preferences on this one!