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127 Hours

A dramatic film directed by Danny Boyle, starring James Franco, and based on the true story of Aron Ralston who was trapped alone in the desert.

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127 Hours

  • Dec 31, 2010
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It's not often that I see a preview that grabs me as much as the one for "127 Hours" did. Scenery straight out of a Road Runner cartoon, excitement, adventure, and... hey, wait a minute, this isn't about that guy who... oh crap, it IS about that guy.

Yes, THAT guy, the one who got trapped by a boulder while hiking in a remote area of Utah and cut off his own arm to free himself. I remember reading about him - his name is Aron Ralston -- when this happened in 2003. I also remember that not long after, I was in up to my elbow in the lint trap of my malfunctioning dryer (an exercise about as productive as staring into the open hood of a stalled car) when suddenly I realized that my arm was stuck. After a quick calculation of when anyone might come looking for me (not very soon) and the panicked recollection of Aron's story, I stopped dithering around trying to gently free myself and yanked my damn arm out with all the force I could muster. I was fine, of course, and only stuck for about a minute, but the point is, the story made quite an impression. How could it not have?

Aron (played by James Franco) has a really good time for the first twenty minutes of the film. He bikes out to a canyon, runs into a couple of girls, and spends an exhilarating ten minutes or so exploring with them. This is really the only enjoyable part of the movie - it's the part I saw in the preview that made me want to see it in the first place, and even more so, to go hiking in Utah.

Not long after the girls leave, a big rock dislodges and sends Aron tumbling into the canyon, trapping his right forearm against the wall when they both land. And I'm thinking crap, do I have to watch this guy just stand here for the next hour?
Pretty much, yah. After a few fruitless attempts to get free, Aron seems to resign himself to a slow death. He has very little food and not much water and no one has the slightest idea of where he is. He's brought along his video camera, which at least gives him an excuse to talk once in a while as he documents his ordeal. But most of his time is spent just sort of squinting in silence.

The only real action is when Aron takes an occasional sip out of his water bottle. These scenes are dramatically filmed from the point of view of a water molecule within the bottle, splishing and splashing its way towards Aron's mouth. There are also several flashbacks, the collective theme of which seems to be "Aron is kind of a dick", along several dream sequences.
All of this is building up to the point that we all know is coming, which we're cheering for and dreading at the same time. But even before Aron snaps both bones in his forearm and starts sawing through the soft tissue with the dull blade of an off-brand multi-purpose tool, he starts drinking his own urine (dramatically filmed from the point of view of a urine molecule), which actually made me queasier than amputation itself. This film is definitely not for the squeamish.

When you think about it, Aron Ralston's ordeal is just a terrible idea for a movie, because once he becomes trapped there's almost no dialogue (except for one time when Aron pretends to interview himself) and no action. But director Danny Boyle takes this really bad idea and runs with it and ends up making about the best possible movie you can make out of a story that's so utterly unfilmable. It's kind of like those "Iron Chef" competitions where the secret ingredient is something really vile like pickled eel and the iron chef whips it up into a mouse and wraps it in bacon until it becomes palatable.

This isn't to say that I liked "127 Hours". I actually kind of hated it after about the first twenty minutes. For a guy trapped in a canyon by a boulder, Aron is not a particularly sympathetic character. And I may be in the minority here, but James Franco does not have a face that I enjoy staring at for long stretches either.

Even the movie's flashbacks are kind of mundane. We see Aron not picking up when he hears his mother's call go to voicemail. We see him not going after an apparently pissed off girlfriend who leaves him at a football game. Boyle really doesn't have a lot to work with as he tries to turn this gruesome little survival story into something bigger: a grand tale of Aron's transformation. He used to be single, see, and now he's married. He used to NEVER tell people where he was going and now he ALWAYS tells them. He used to think he didn't need any help, but after being trapped in a canyon for 127 hours and cutting his own arm off, he actually yells for help. Wow, he's a changed man alright.
The thing is, no one really cares about this stuff anyway. The drawing card here is the forearm-ectomy, not that Aron's learned a valuable lesson. You can whip it up into a mousse and wrap it in bacon all you want, but this movie is still just about a guy who got trapped by a rock and cut his own arm off.

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March 30, 2011
What a good review. You're right; it is all about The Scene. And Aron wasn't a particularly likable guy, either.
March 30, 2011
Thanks. I couldn't believe this was nominated for Best Picture.
January 03, 2011
I see this one is getting mixed reviews...thanks!! Happy New Year!!
More 127 Hours reviews
review by . April 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
We Often Find Ourselves At Our Strongest During Our Weakest Moments....
 I can almost guarantee that most everyone had seen and heard the news reports about the search for Aron Ralston and the harrowing experience he had gone through. Most of the details of his time in the Canyonlands National Park in Utah were shared in his autobiographical book called “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” that has inspired this film. Co-written and directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), “127 Hours” was critically acclaimed and gave James Franco a best …
review by . February 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Epitaph in Blue John Canyon: Aron Ralston (1975-2003)
What's the odd of being stranded in the bottom of a Canyon solo and then having a boulder fall on you and trapped your hand in between?! That's one in a trillion chance, isn't it?      The footage in this movie is simply awesome! I love Canyons and have been to a great many in the U.S. but I would never dream myself of being trapped the way Aron Ralston was. And the story of the movie goes on to show how he survived it after 127 hours (5 days or so) of life threatening …
review by . April 16, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     Danny Boyle is one of the most ambitious and talented filmmakers in the business, today. He made "28 Days Later" and "Slumdog Millionaire", both wonderful, and now he has made "127 Hours". But this time, there is not one, but two men behind all the magic. James Franco stars in this film, and he acts as Boyle's other. Without Boyle, Franco would be screwed; and without Franco, so would Boyle (maybe). I know Boyle as a stylistic genius and powerful story-teller. …
review by . February 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A true story, that had only started to fade from our memory was brought back to our attention by James Franco and Danny Boyle and is now up for a couple of awards. 127 Hours tells the story of Aron Ralston, a 27-year old climber, who trapped his right arm between a boulder and the wall of a small slot canyon in the vast Arizona desert. While your choice to go to this movie or to stay away may be based on the climax, you would be foolish to judge this movie on that scene alone.   …
review by . January 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Danny Boyle deserves all the credit in the world for this directorial achievement. Personally, I think he did an outstanding thing taking on a subject which is hard to put on screen for one hour and half and keep you interested in the character and keep things entertaining: the true story of Aron Ralston, a mountain climber who had to resort to one of the most desperate measures in order to fade death.      A profound survival story that doesn't get too melodramatic …
review by . May 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A Real Ordeal Becomes a Fascinating Stream-of-Consciousness Survival Story
Watching the first twenty minutes of 127 Hours I was repelled by what I was watching, and not just by Aron Ralston's rope, either.  It doesn't help a review when you want to be uplifted and inspired after a long, hard day at work.  What started as his ordeal became mine and will most likely become yours as the aforementioned protagonist climbs through the arid, rocky, rugged redish-orange Utah terrain.  Experienced, yet unsuspecting, the lone hiker falls into a cavern with …
review by . March 29, 2011
A cautionary tale
28-year old Aron Ralston was an experienced hiker and climber who set out for a day of fun in Canyonlands that changed his life forever.  He fell down a crevice, a boulder pinned his arm, and he was unable to free himself.  Over the next five days, Aron recorded his thoughts on his video camera and dreamed about his family and friends, then, with no food or water left, decided to end his ordeal.   This movie is filmed almost like a documentary, a virtual one-man show for James …
Quick Tip by . March 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
James Franco just keeps rising as one of the most interesting and underrated actors in Hollywood. Ever since seeing him play James Dean in a made-for-TV biopic, I've been watching him very carefully as he chooses his roles. For a while he got a lot of supporting and a few leading parts in big budget action films, but he's showing his acting abilities lately in more independent and character driven films. Last year was a good year for Franco as he starred in two great films (the other being …
review by . January 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I think there is inherent in mountain climbers and outdoor thrill seekers a certain degree of arrogance. To subject yourself to extreme environmental conditions and believe that you’re capable of taking them on requires a great deal of confidence, if not something of a superiority complex. I say this as someone who has never scaled a mountain and has absolutely no intention of ever doing so; perhaps it’s coming from a place of jealousy, since being unwilling to take a risk has not allowed …
Quick Tip by . March 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
REALLY well done film. Went in very skeptical of how they could make a two hour film from a guy stuck under a rock... and a story for which we already know the ending. Both director and actor made for a phenomenally visceral ride -- very hard to watch (not for reasons you'd expect actually), but really well made.  LOVE this director's unique and palpable style!! I was left with the same feeling I had after watching Slumdog Millionaire... boy would I love to see a movie THIS good every …
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About this movie


127 Hours is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's 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 can be rescued. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers, family, and the two hikers he met before his accident. Will they be the last two people he ever had the chance to meet? Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures  
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Director: Danny Boyle
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: 28 January 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
Runtime: 94 min
Studio: Cloud Eight Films, Film4, Everest Entertainment
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