365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

8Apr/110

127 Hours (2010)

After seeing an episode of Animal Planet's I Shouldn't Be Alive a few years ago that showed the story of Aron Ralston, the adventure seeker who got his arm pinned between a boulder and a rock wall and the central figure in Danny Boyle's 2010 127 Hours, I figured that the only way that the movie would really be able to have an affect on me was if there was a masterful lead acting performance, some stylish directing by Boyle, or, in the most likely scenario, a combination of both of these. As you will read below, that was exactly what happened.

By now everybody knows the story of Ralston, the man who spent over 5 days tripped in a cavern before cutting his arm off with a cheap, dull knife. Ralston has written a book, has been featured on Oprah, and talked about his trials and tribulations in all kinds of other media venues. His story of perseverance, staying positive, and doing whatever it takes not to completely lose it when all else seems hopeless  has inspired millions and brought tears to their eyes at the same time. While even thinking about Aron's situation is daunting to most of us, he endeared the pain, the dehydration, the fatigue, and, worst of all, the notions that there was no way that he was going to be found and there was no way he was going to be able to free his arm from the boulder. And during those 127 Hours, Aron discovered who he was as a person and what things he needed to change to be the person who he wanted to be.

James Franco (Milk, Spider-Man) gives the performance of his young career. Franco, already an established actor at the age of 32, likely will earn his first Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as Aron. His portrayal of Aron effectively shows Aron as an carefree, and sometimes careless, lover of life adventure man within the first twenty minutes of the movie. Then Franco transforms his character to show how this same man tries to deal with the most physically and emotionally dire of a situation a person could possibly deal with.

While Franco nailed the role of Aron, 127 Hours would not have been such a rewarding experience without the direction of Boyle. In his first movie since winning a Best Director Academy Award for 2008's Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle (28 Days Later, Trainspotting) brings    Boyle unconventionally incorporates a soundtrack into this movie that might feel weird at first, but as you walk away from the movie you can't imagine it being successfully made any other way.

What I took away most from this movie was that Aron never once why this horrible event was happening to him.  Though he was scared, disbelieved, and downright angry at finding himself in the situation he was in, he never once wondered said "Why me?" Instead, as he was reevaluating his life and the circumstances that led him to where he was, he said "Of course me." He never once blamed anyone else. He understood that by shutting people out of his life, need being there for others when they needed him to be, and not even letting another person know where he was going despite the potential danger, he was responsible for his predicament.

Ironically the movie Buried, which stars Ryan Reynolds as a man buried underground in a coffin, was released about a month before 127 Hours. This movie, while intriguing at the time and even spotlighted by Entertainment Weekly as one of their featured movies to see before the end of the year whereas 127 Hours received just a small little blurb. And while these two movies feature, for the most part, identical predicaments, 127 Hours has received the Oscar buzz while Buried, while also critically acclaimed, has been sort of forgotten. This might be due to the fact that 127 Hours is based upon a true story, while Buried is not, and also has a better lead actor and a better director. It is uncertain how Buried might have done had it been released a year earlier, but it has not measured up against 127 Hours either with the critics or at the box office.

Plot 10/10
Character Development 9/10
Character Chemistry 8.5/10
Acting 9/10
Screenplay 8.5/10
Directing 10/10
Cinematography 10/10
Sound 10/10
Hook and Reel 8.5/10
Universal Relevance 10/10
93.5%

If a movie is a true story and not based on true events and it holds the attention of the audience while earning critical praise, it's hard to not give the plot a 10. While it is pretty much just you and James Franco for 90 minutes, there are enough flashbacks to see how his relationships with his parents, his sister, and a former girlfriend had evolved over time to shape Aron into the person he became, hence an 8.5 for character chemistry. The incorporation of a soundtrack in this movie is masterful. The movies final scenes contain an awe inspiring piece of much that, while probably would have been effective in itself, might have seemed forced and a bit of a cliche had it not been for the other parts of the soundtrack that swept through the movie.

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