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An emotional and unforgettable experience
DonFishies21 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Despite having the opportunity to see Darren Aronofsky's absolutely extraordinary masterpiece Black Swan at this year's past Toronto International Film Festival, I did regret missing out on Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. The film was one of the few to emerge from the festival with momentous Oscar buzz, and even a bit of controversy over a specific scene late in the film that was causing people to faint in theatres.

The film chronicles the true story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), a recklessly arrogant mountain climber whose arm gets crushed under a boulder during a trip through Utah canyon country. With no one coming to save him, he must decide whether he will die or fight for survival.

The logline and description may not sound like much, but 127 Hours delivers one of the most riveting and incredibly emotional experiences I have had in a theatre in some time. I was unsure Boyle and his crew could top their Oscar-winning work in Slumdog Millionaire, but this film improves upon it in every way possible. Because of all the talk about "the scene", the majority of people will know how the film ends well before they even consider seeing it. But everything leading up to Aron's life-altering decision is absolutely amazing and the stuff of pure filmmaking magic.

From the very beginning up until the very end, you know you are in the hands of some truly special filmmakers, specifically Boyle. Everything in the film seems to have a pulse and a life of its own, whether it is the hyper kinetic editing, the lush and gorgeous cinematography, the often epic score, the thought-provoking writing or just the general style of the film. Where other movies pay very little attention to the little things, Boyle and company seem to have amped up the quality in the majority of those areas, and made a film whose elements very much complement each other. I could not believe the short running time at first, but they pack so much in and the film moves at such an aggressively energetic pace, that you barely have time to slow down and breathe once the film really gets moving.

One of the unique things that really stood out for me was the use of flashback throughout the film. Ralston spends a lot of time thinking about what brought him to this life changing moment, and it is rather interesting how Boyle handles these thoughts. They act specifically as our way into Ralston's life and his character dynamic, but they never seem to overtake the bigger picture of his being pinned by the rock. They work rather brilliantly as asides, as mere stylishly and crazily edited set pieces (a naked party in the back of an SUV is a particular standout). They are among the film's few scenes of character interaction, and help the audience adjust deeper and deeper into Ralston's mindset. It aids the film in being an even greater experience of authenticity. His hallucinations are done in very much the same way, but do not work nearly as great as these off-the-wall scenes do.

The lengthy cast list may not suggest it, but the film is really just the James Franco show. We only get fleeting and stylishly edited glimpses of him at first, but after the boulder comes down, the film becomes a deeply focused, claustrophobic and devastatingly candid character piece driven almost exclusively by facial movements and reactions. 2010 has been a year of transformations by actors, and Franco's turn as Ralston is no different. The camera gets right in his face and shows us the gritty reality of his predicament, and Franco is eerily authentic in his portrayal. You can see the gradual exhaustion and desperation taking its toll on him; you can see the visible fear on his face as he faces life or death. Not many actors are able to drive a film by mainly interacting with themselves and the static objects around them, but Franco delivers in spades at every turn. Whether he is being devastatingly hilarious or dead serious, he still manages to ensure the realism and intensity of his performance never changes. You will be unable to take your eyes off this riveting portrayal at any time.

While it pains me to have to point out the film's small amount of imperfections (even with the attention to detail), it is only because I cannot wrap my head around the film being absolutely flawless. This is an incredible piece of cinema, but there are a few special effects, musical and editing choices made that are simply baffling. I understand the point and logistical ideas around some of them, but some just stand out as odd. Why point out the insects that inhabit Ralston's surroundings, and then make them so CGI'ed that they look visibly fake? Why throw in the out of place tunes to help try and convey his emotions? I know I am pulling at strings, but there were at least a handful of elements that seemed out of place and made the film slightly less than perfect. It just seems these extra steps easily could have been made to make the film even more pristine.

127 Hours is not just a film – it is an experience. It is only in limited release now, but I can only hope that audiences everywhere will get the opportunity to see the movie. It is an amazing movie centred around an absolutely incredible, legendary performance. Watching Franco bare his soul on-screen is practically a cleansing experience. I went in with high hopes, and left with a huge smile on my face. It is authentically emotional, and in a year merely punctuated with a handful of amazing movies amongst a sea of filth, it more than just stands out. It is quite simply, unforgettable.

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A simple plot based on a true story that kept me on the edge of my seat!
AdrenalinDragon8 January 2011
You know, when I first heard about this movie. I didn't really know what to expect, as all I knew was it was based on a true story about a guy getting stuck in a canyon due to a boulder. I decided to give it a shot and well, I was amazed by this movie. Danny Boyle continues to give us impressive cinematography and incredible performances in his movie, thanks to James Franco, who plays as Aron Ralston, the mountain climber who gets stuck under the boulder if you didn't already know.

I'm not going to go into any big spoilers, but it was amazing to see how the movie builds up to the main plot. After getting stuck under a boulder for 5 days, you're probably thinking "How is this movie going to stay entertaining?". Well, we witness some attempts of Aron trying to get out of the boulder, as well as using the equipment he brought with him with his backpack to try and survive. He also tries to keep himself awake so that he can live long enough to not die. When all normal attempts to escape fail, as a last resort, he does something very terrifying to get out. When this scene happened, I had to turn away in parts due to how extreme it was!

With good uses of hallucinations and flashbacks to keep the story flowing, Danny Boyle has managed to make this movie as realistic as possible. Great music, great filming, and stunning performance. 127 Hours is a fantastic movie about a real-life incident that may be too disturbing to watch for some people, but I'd consider it a must see on all grounds. Definitely worthy of getting nominated for Best Picture at least surely?
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127 HOURS - Danny Boyle right on the money
mdtscoates24 November 2010
I came into this movie with high expectations. Danny Boyle, who brought us 28 DAYS LATER and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE had a lot to live up to with the quality of prior movies, and he did not disappoint. He brought the challenge of creating an interesting movie based on our main character being immobile to life, and captivating it was. Being stuck with our main character the entire duration of the film was anything but tedious, as we follow the thoughts of canyoneer Aron Ralston (James Franco) as he gets trapped under a rock while exploring the beautiful sights of Utah. The camera does a fabulous job taking us everywhere a wandering mind might migrate in a situation such as this.

The human connection element was most fascinating, as we wonder what we would do if placed in a similar situation. We are really "with" Ralston on his journey, as we see him discover a reason to live and how his life perspective changes, not just how to get free from his predicament. The film manages to stay optimistic and warming, despite the frustration and angst felt by Ralston and viewers. And we certainly thank Boyle for some of the lighter moments that temper the severity of the situation.

The film does not shy away from tough choices and certainly keeps it "real" during the entire run, especially during the critical climax scene. Despite being stuck in place the movie is fascinating at the pace with which it moves and keeps the audience's attention from start to finish. So while Ralston loves living on the edge, we see Boyle create this movie in a similar fashion, metaphorically speaking, as the intensity and gripping nature of Ralston's circumstances comes alive and sucks us in.

In the movie Aron Ralston sets off on a typical weekend excursion being outdoors and with nature. During his journey he befriends a couple of female hikers who are somewhat lost and looking to get back on their way. He shows them the ropes of the canyons and they set off home. Little do they know that their friend will need their help just moments later. Becoming trapped under a rock, Ralston now is faced with the challenge of keeping himself alive while trying to break loose from the rock's firm grasp. As Aron works on a solution, we see him wonder about the party he's been invited to just hours earlier, think about how his has ignored his family, wonder about where he left his Gatorade, which would keep him hydrated longer, do a live interview featuring himself on camera, and drink his own urine.

I think the part of the movie that moved me the most actually occurred after the climax, where we see Ralston, broken, desperate, and willing to end his lone-wolf mentality for good. The emotions felt during the last 5 minutes signify human triumph, perseverance, and the power of the human spirit. Incredible movie, a definite must-see 9/10 stars
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A Triumph
meininky17 November 2010
Sometimes (even oftentimes) in the world of film criticism, the word "triumphant" is thrown around. It's often used to describe a film, perhaps more often a performance. I've certainly used it; it's a term I like to pull out when a film seems to go beyond the call of duty. When it's more than art, entertainment, or a combination of both. When the story, images, and characters pop off the screen and go with you, and the lasting impression left on you means something more than having killed a couple hours in a big, dark room with a bunch of strangers. Now, after watching 127 Hours, I feel I've never used "triumphant" in the correct critical context before.

James Franco's performance is simply astounding. He, as an actor, is triumphant because his character is, and because he delves into what it means to be bringing this incredible story to life on the big screen for mass consumption. This is a tough role - Franco is basically putting on a one-man show, and he does so elegantly. We feel Aron Ralston's pain because Franco feels his pain and shows it in every line of his face, verbalizes it with every sigh, and lets it control him even as he battles to take control back and find a way out of his dire situation.

It's pure, masterful art. Franco is simply flawless. Trapped by the boulder, much of his performance lies in his facial expressions, and he is able to deftly switch from desperation to comedy to a brutal will to survive, all while being barely able to move. I've rarely been so impressed by an actor's work; Franco is wholly deserving of the Oscar.

Danny Boyle's kinetic, energetic direction is a perfect match for Franco's easy-going goofiness, and even when the film becomes grounded in the narrow canyon where Ralston was trapped, Boyle always keeps things interesting. He and co-writer Simon Beaufoy weave flashbacks and hallucinations into Ralston's dilemma to great, heart-breaking effect, and the premonition that drives Ralston to finally dive whole-heartedly into amputating his own arm is breath-taking in its tenderness.

Also impressive is Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography. Instead of letting the confined space limit their camera techniques, they tackle every possible angle, often bringing the audience uncomfortably close to the action. Shots through the bottom of Ralston's water bottle mark time and heighten the sense of urgency. The addition of home movie-style footage brings Ralston even closer to the audience; when he expresses his delayed gratitude to his family, you'll likely find yourself thinking about the last time you told your parents how much you love them. It's a great device, and is put to best use in one of the film's funniest scenes, when Ralston interviews himself Gollum-style. The combination of the dark humor, varied cinematography, and Franco's impressive facial dexterity pitch the scene perfectly; it's a lighter moment that is nevertheless grounded in the gravity of the situation.

Complementing and combining Chediak and Mantle's beautiful shots is Jon Harris's dynamic editing. The use of split-screen is particularly brilliant, put to use in innovative ways throughout the film: the bookend sequences mark Ralston's departure from and return to society, and the technique in general represents the multiple facets of a seemingly simple tale. Yes, when it comes down to it, 127 Hours is a film about a mountain climber who gets stuck under a boulder and has to cut off his own arm. But it's so much more than that. It's about a man overcoming the physical, emotional, and intellectual strains of an unthinkable situation. It's about responsibility, love, and the will to live. Above all, it's about the triumph of the human spirit, show more clearly and beautifully here than in any other film I can think of.
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A Nutshell Review: 127 Hours
DICK STEEL19 February 2011
I think the reports and those who claim to have fainted when watching this is probably highly exaggerated. Sure it's graphic, but nothing not already seen in a typical torture porn film. Danny Boyle doesn't exploit this inevitable moment through lingering shots or in your face techniques, but does enough to bring forth the sheer horror and pain of the entire 127 hours ordeal that culminates with a none too pretty or neat self amputation of a limb, taking care of addressing and cutting through skin, meat, bone and tendon.

Based on the memoirs of Aron Ralston's true life experience of literally being stuck between a rock and a hard place (which of course makes for a catchy book title), while I haven't read that book, Danny Boyle has weaved an incredibly fast paced picture from the get go, introducing us to Aron the weekend adventurer, who takes to the canyons for biking, climbing and exploration, played to pitch perfection by James Franco in the leading role. Quite the ladies man as well with his boyish charms and manly antics, if only to find himself never lingering at one spot, always on the go, not to allow anything to stand in his way of what could be the best weekend of his life. That is until disaster struck.

When we begin from Zero hour, you can't help but feel that it's probably going to be the same with another solo, constricted space situation captured on film like Buried, which had Ryan Reynolds in a one man show buried in a box underground, and fighting for his life against his terrorist captors whom you don't see. With the camera constantly pulling to the surface of the earth just to quantify the significance of being alone and the worrying point of having nobody to contact, the narrative here doesn't get all claustrophobic on us, because Boyle made it a point for the film to be a little expansive, with various reminiscence on Aron's part, and out of body fantasy and imaginary sequences of being somewhere else other than where Aron currently is.

And while that feeling of being confined is nothing new, it does make you appreciate and realize that such moments aren't far fetched, because with so many idle hours parked in between figuring out and planning how to get out, we do that idle daydream even when we're busy, so what more when we have time on our hands, with literally nowhere else to go? There's a fine balance reached where we see how Aron splits time between keeping and planning to extend his lifespan when he realizes the really deep problem he's rooted in, and that of taking time off to think about the larger picture.

Which James Franco doesn't disappoint, especially when he's chronicling what could be his final hours on earth in his camcorder. He flits from being the really energetic young adult that we get introduced to, and the growingly desperate man, before basking in exuberance at the new lease of life given to him. If anyone thinks Franco is but a pretty face without substance, perhaps 127 Hours will change your mind about the actor, probably best known in his support role in Sam Raimi's Spiderman trilogy. It's almost like a one man show for about an hour of the film, so much of the weight of the film lies on Franco being able to convince us of the mixed emotions Aron goes through in different periods of the day and those hours, which he does.

Danny Boyle continues to assert why he's one of the most versatile directors of today tackling a variety of genres, never running out of ideas to translate his vision in various films, always straddling between telling emotional stories that resonate even if the premise and set up screams commercial. A.R. Rahman, the Mozart of Madras continues in his second in as many collaboration with Boyle, providing original music that rocks from the start and defines the film, just like how his Chaiyya Chaiyya (though it was already used for Dil Se) did for Spike Lee's Inside Man.

If there are messages to gain from the film, it is to always prepare for the unexpected, pack right and gather enough resources for the what ifs in life, and not to be a bastard in relationships, keeping an arm's length away from loved ones and/or taking them for granted. There could be a time where we find ourselves regretting for not doing some things while we can, so I guess it's up to us if we want to live life a day at a time while it's the last, or to idle it all away thinking we're invincible and infallible. Highly recommended film befitting of a nomination, but whether it could win with such illustrious company this year, will be a bit of a stretch.
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Boyle and Franco turn a true survival story into a powerful statement about living
Movie_Muse_Reviews29 November 2010
As demonstrated by his ability to earn acclaim in everything from zombie films ("28 Days Later") to foreign coming-of-age love stories ("Slumdog Millionaire"), Danny Boyle has an extraordinary gift as a filmmaker and in "127 Hours," he channels it into an extraordinary story of human willpower. This could have easily been a compelling but plain and ordinary documentary on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic about a man pinned under a boulder who miraculously survives. Boyle, however, transforms it into a powerful statement about the will to live and where that motivation truly comes from.

"127 Hours" does not simply prove the point that humans will do whatever it takes to survive in dire circumstances. In fact, I might argue 9 of 10 people wouldn't do what Aron Ralston (James Franco) does in this film. Anyway, Boyle makes it his mission to use Ralston's incredible true story -- one that told at face value would probably just elicit gasps -- to alter our perspective on living.

What's obvious is that none of the impact of "127 Hours" is possible without Franco. A film about a man trapped in a crevice for more than five days needs a heck of a lead actor and Franco, despite few dramatic credits to this point, proves beyond capable. Although boredom might set in for some during this film given its plot, the believability of Franco's performance remains constant and irrefutable. He possesses the fun-loving and care-free charisma of Ralston then slowly breaks that shell and shows his human fragility.

Yet remarkably, Boyle leaves a substantial thumbprint on the film, much of which he shares with co-writer Simon Beaufoy, also of "Slumdog." Because the story is so straightforward, Boyle recognizes imagery and perception provide his only means of creativity. He shows us inside the tube of Ralston's water backpack, water bottle and other close-ups, all of which seem unnecessary, but they establish images which we will come to think about with a different perspective as the film wears on, such as when Aron drinks his own settled urine out of the water pouch. Boyle uses the same process shot, but suddenly we don't see it the way we did earlier and they become more meaningful than tedious.

This subtly effective technique can also be found in the beginning and ending shots of the film. It seems completely random that Boyle would open with crowded streets of people as if he's tricked us and really made "Slumdog 2," but the image gains significance after experiencing Ralston's journey.

"127 Hours" will not be kind to people who don't take lightly to seeing blood outside of the "shoot 'em up" genre. Many of these people will leave the film thinking all they got was shock value, but of course there's much more to it. Despite the "how will he survive?" plot, a substantial amount of time is placed on flashes to memories Aron thinks of regarding his family, fantasies and of course, regrets. Boyle beautifully shows us that although survival seems an inherently selfish thing, much of that motivation and will to live comes from other people, even total strangers. Aron thinks a lot of the girls (Kata Mara and Amber Tamblyn) he hiked with just hours before the accident though otherwise he'd have likely forgotten them.

The build-up and catharsis of Aron's story might not be the most powerful and uplifting based-on-true-story you've witnessed, but "127 Hours" clearly surpasses expectation in terms of the message it sends and the impact it leaves. With it, Boyle solidifies his place as one of those filmmakers you must always have an eye on and Franco emerges as a relatable everyman with above-everyman-grade talent.

~Steven C

Visit my site http://moviemusereviews.com
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A completely cathartic life-or-death experience
saareman13 September 2010
I started loving this film within the first few seconds. 127 Hours begins immediately with the sound of Fresh Blood's "Never Hear Surf Music Again" ("There must be some f*%#ing chemical, chemical in your brain, that makes us different from animals, makes us all the same." etc...) just as featured in the 1st trailer. That not-ripped-off euphoric feeling (how many times have you seen a trailer with a perfect song/music and then felt betrayed that it wasn't in the film later... yeah, me too) carried on all the way through the rest of the film.

The film has an energetic start with a split screen showing office-bound commuters/workers going along their daily drudge while our lead, x-treme biker/hiker/climber Aron Ralston (played to perfection by actor James Franco) packs his gear (unfortunately not finding his Swiss Army knife which might have made a lot of difference to him later on) for a trek into Blue John Canyon country in Utah. While on his way he has a brief fun climbing/diving/swimming interlude with two female hikers (played by Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn). He then heads off on his own and at about 20 minutes into the movie takes a tumble with a small boulder that ends up pinning his right arm against the side wall of the thin crevice of a canyon. And that is where we are with him for the next "127 hours" (but only 1 hour of screen time) that it takes him to get loose.

I'm not going to spoil that resolution here, although most will likely hear about it anyway before seeing the movie. An obvious clue that he survives is given by the screen credit early in the film that says it is "based on the book Between A Rock And A Hard Place by Aron Ralston". The guy must of survived if he wrote a book about it right? Well, you can survive in many ways and not all of them leave you whole (both mentally and physically).

Director Danny Boyle brings a lot of the key Oscar-winning players of the Slumdog team back for this new film. Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, soundtrack composer A.R.Rahman and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (this time paired with Enrique Chediak) are chief among those. As an added bonus, from the director of the toilet-diving cam in Trainspotting, we now have the "desperately thirsty character saves his own urine so it can be filmed while drunk through a tube"-cam in this movie.

At the Toronto Film Festival's 2nd screening of the film, Boyle was there to take questions from the audience and his enthusiasm and excitement about the film were infectious. Tidbits included his talking about their 6 days of location shooting followed by a sound-stage recreation of the canyon based on 3D scanning imagery. Boyle also praised actor James Franco and emphasized how every time we see him in a new film he is stretching his talents and abilities, unlike many lead actors who are just basically playing themselves in various different situations.

Boyle said that for an audience to watch what would otherwise be deemed "unwatchable" you either had to be making a schlocky/not-to-be-taken-seriously horror movie OR you had to make the audience completely identify with the character to the extent that they would believe that they themselves would have done the exact same thing to save themselves if they had to. Well, Boyle succeeds in making you believe it.

Seen at the Ryerson Theatre, Toronto Sept. 13, 2010. 2nd screening of 3 at TIFF 2010.
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An experienced climber and survivalist has an "oops" moment.
cramax59529 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
We all know the story and it's outcome. Yet we want to see it for ourselves out of curiosity if the story is somewhat interesting after hearing the headlines. Isn't that true of every true story that is portrayed on film? People have commented that Aron Ralston is a loner and an idiot and give the movie 2 stars or less. How is that a bad comment about the story in the film? The character himself, and therefore the real person, calls himself these very things! As a loner, he felt invincible, yet as a self declared "idiot" he has the intelligence to admit how stupid of a thing he had done. Yes, we can all sit on our little chairs and watch the movie and call him an idiot for not telling anyone where he's going or what he's doing... like we've NEVER done something idiotic before. Sure, perhaps our very own moment of lack of good judgment has not put us in a situation that we may have sealed our own doom...for Ralston he had to come to terms with himself that, indeed he may have just killed himself unintentionally.

People also commented that he survives by sheer luck. To them I say, can YOU survive for 6 days doing the same things Ralston did? Forget the idea that you would never be so stupid. The point is, if it were to happen to you, what would YOU have done? Would you even have stopped for a moment to leave a video for your loved ones-loner that you are?

People still commented that Ralston felt no pain. We could dismiss the initial accident as being in shock. Later on he shows a great deal of pain...and ingenuity. When I myself had an oops moment with a stupid chainsaw cutting a hole in my knee, I didn't feel one ounce of pain. I just kept saying to myself, how could I be so stupid to have not been more careful.

If you only hated this movie because it is about one person for most of the film stuck in a canyon, hallucinating about life, screaming out for help ONCE and hating yourself for doing so because you know no one is out there to hear you and you know yelling is futile (by the way people commented that they would be yelling out - for what? save your energy and look for other viable solutions idiot!), contemplating taking your own life because of your incredible mistake you've made, making a final decision - one that would leave you "crippled" - and I mean no offense to amputees, still knowing that even without your right arm you still have to carry your bloodied self, weak from dehydration and having lost over 40 pounds in 6 days (I kid you not), to the HOPE of safety...if you hated this movie for reasons such as these...then you've never had a true "oops" moment. You are perfect...perfectly lying to yourself.
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It's Not About The Arm
jgregg4224 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
You have probably heard the story about the man that went canyoneering, alone, in Utah in 2003, not telling anyone where he was going. Five days later he emerged out of the Utah canyons, missing an arm. He had become wedged between a rock and a hard place (literally) and eventually had to cut his own arm off in order to survive. If you were like me you probably thought to yourself, "Wow, what an awful experience, I bet that sucks. Oh well, back to my life." The truth is that the self amputation handiwork is not even close to what the man, Aron Ralston, had to go through for the first 124 hours of his ordeal. Having read "It's Not About the Bike" by Lance Armstrong, I think it is fair to compare the two stories not only about survivorship but also about the bigger picture in which we call "life." You have probably also heard how Armstrong survived testicular cancer to go on to win the Tour De France seven times. Again you might have thought to yourself "Wow, he had a small bout with cancer and now everything is all right. Oh well, back to my life." The severe gravity of these situations don't settle in until you hear or see the personal stories of what these individuals endured to earn their lives back. Danny Boyle, is the director who helped bring Ralston's excruciating story to the screen in "127 Hours." Boyle, with an eclectic resume including a movie about heroin addiction ("Trainspotting"), a movie about two youngsters finding a bag of money ("Millions"), and a Bollywood movie ("Slumdog Millionaire"), focused on the events that put the viewer in Ralston's position then made that viewer understand that there was only two ways out of the cavern.

We start the story with Ralston (played by James Franco) driving out to the Utah canyons while inconveniently forgetting his Swiss Army knife at home (he would need that later). He runs into two young female hikers and introduces them to an underground swimming hole. Not knowing these are the last two people he will have contact with for quite some time.

After parting ways with the hikers, Ralston tumbles down a narrow canyon and his right arm becomes wedged between a small boulder and the canyon wall. He has the exact same reaction that I would have, "AGGHHHH!!!" I understood his anger because I too would react in the same way. I too would not accept my situation. I too would be cursing at the rock.

Before this movie, I did wonder how Boyle was going to keep us engaged for the length of the film. It's a hard task considering Ralston was in one place for five days. Boyle, along with Franco's brilliant acting, was able to keep us flowing from day to day. Sure there are the flash back scenes and a few Scooby-Doo induced hallucinations. But, the one thing that kept my attention was what Ralston actually did while trapped in the crevice. He had a video camera and he videotaped himself giving an ultimate gratitude list to his parents and friends. Even in his dying hours, he wanted his parents to know how he felt about them. He even went as far as producing a humorous morning talk show with himself. It was real, and it worked. That video is now in a safety deposit box where only a few sets of eyes have seen it.

Should you see this movie? Yes, but don't see it because a guy cuts off his arm to survive. See it because you want a story about why a guy cuts off his own arm to survive. See it because you need to know the answer to what you would do if you were in Ralston's predicament. See it because you are the type of person (to quote an earlier Boyle movie) to "choose life" and you know deep down inside that there is a force driving you.
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What Would You Do?
treeskier8025 March 2012
The story of Aron Ralston is documented in this intense drama. It's the true story of Ralston who found himself stuck in a cave in Utah with his arm pinned under a bolder. I knew much of the story before I watched this film and honestly was a bit queezy as to what might be shown. I'm the sort who does not do well seeing blood and guts and watching this movie was a true test for me. If you are the type of person who gets queezy over stuff like this, I must say view with caution. If you can stomach watching this film, however, you will witness an incredible true story that you will never forget.

James Franco is really good in this film. Ralston himself has said the film is very true to what actually happened. It is quite a predicament that he is in and all the thoughts that go through his mind are ones that most would contemplate. What Ralston does to survive this ordeal is unbelievable and something that many if not most people could not force themselves to do. Rating 7 of 10 starts.
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A strong film that paints the road to survival filled with hope and deception
montera_iulian6 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
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 nor boring or predictable. It challenges the viewer by putting him through the same experience as Aron's thanks to the amazing study of his character and his survival process. 127 Hours entertains by mixing up humor with drama and tense situations. A great journey through Aron's personal experience that goes from his first moments of clarity and then sanity, disappointment and hope, through his hallucinations and premonitions, through his both states of denial and acceptance of the upcoming result and ultimately, through his impressive ambition and desire to live and not accept death as a denouement. James Franco is responsible for caring this movie and make it entertaining thanks to his moving performance. He manages so well to balance his emotional state and "play" with his own sanity. His presence on the screen kept the audience in the back of their seats. Speaking of being in the back of the seat, I heard a lot of talk about the "cutting arm" sequence which made people fainted or whatever. I expected it to be some gore stuff but it turned out to be more than just OK. It was nothing that harsh to watch... I don't know. Maybe for some really sensitive guys the scene might be a problem but for me it was really nothing that outrageous.

Combining the nonconformism in editing with great photography, beautiful landscapes and amazing cinematography 127 Hours stands-out as a striking visually piece of filmmaking. The scenes were cut and put together in an intelligent manor and that majorly helped the movie's pacing. The soundtrack is also one of the best I've heard in a long time. A.R. Rahman is responsible for this beautiful mixture of tribal techno music and uplifting pure melody. The most impressive piece of music I consider it to be within the last couple of minutes right before his "salvation" and Dido's vocal performance in the film was destined to make the public to engage emotionally in the movie.

127 Hours is another big step in Danny Boyle's career. A strong film that paints the road to survival filled with hope and deception. Carried by a strong performance, by a solid narrative structure and dazzling technical detail, 127 Hours needs to be in anyone's top 10 of 2010.
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127 Hours is a fantastic look at the strength of the human spirit.
technofunkie29 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Danny Boyle has always been an indie favourite, consistently producing excellent films in many different genres. However, his films never enjoyed the box-office reach they deserved. That is, until his 2008 surprise blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire broke all expectations. It was a film that would then allow Danny Boyle to create whatever film project he wanted, with presumably whatever budget he needed. This is a dream situation for any director, but instead of taking the opportunity to direct a massive budget film, he writes and directs, 127 Hours. The film, which tells the incredible true story of Aron Ralston, could be handled in incredibly different ways. Luckily, Boyle's film about a man having to cut off his own arm doesn't leave you feeling depressed, but rather it is energetic and life-affirming. The film doesn't tone down any of the difficult aspects, in fact it throws them right in your face. However, what makes this film so fantastic, is that Boyle's style matches Ralston's view on life and explanation for surviving the awful ordeal. The film begins at a furiously kinetic pace, one you would be hard pressed to find in an action film. It is a jolt to the senses and it sets the perfect mood for the film. It is not making light of a terrible situation but rather putting you in the mind set that Aron Ralston was in before the accident occurred. What makes this directorial decision so important is the fact that without understanding the kind of person he was, we couldn't understand how he survived the awful ordeal he was in. This is what makes Boyle perfect for the material, where another director would most likely go very minimalist, Boyle goes all out in terms of style, without ever losing the emotional connection. Boyle's stylistic choices heighten emotional integrity where as other directors' use of style is often just visual stimulation. As important Boyle's direction was to making the film great, if it were not for James Franco's performance as Aron, the film would have failed. Franco gives one of the strongest performances of his career, if not his best. His performance could very easily have become showy and overly dramatic, yet Franco was smart enough to restrain himself until the moment called for dramatics. It would be a real shame to forget the unsung heroes of this film, the two directors of photography; Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle. As the film features, for the most part, one man on screen for the duration, Boyle decided to make the visuals into their own characters. To do this, he employed two fantastic directors of photography to make the visuals competing characters. As the film progressed, remembering the incredibly impressive shots became harder and harder, to a point where I lost count. The film features some of the most memorable shots of Boyle's career, many of which leave you wondering how they possibly accomplished them. Danny Boyle has made a career of films about men who are pushed to their absolute limits, yet the films always leave you feeling better than when you arrived. He does not muddy his films with sentimentality or out of place scenes to make the audience feel better, but his films still leave you feeling an energy for life. It is his talent of finding the strength within people and his natural ability to present it to us that makes his films so powerful. 127 Hours is one of the rare films that leaves an audience in their seats during the credits, and for many, even after the credits are done their scroll.
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-Best film of the year-
mdnobles1927 November 2010
Danny Boyle has outdone himself this time as well as James Franco in a film which to me is hands down the best film of the year, Oscar contenders get ready to be defeated! From beginning to end the movie has energy, creativity, fun and intense thrills and the best one man show since Cast Away. You get invested in this character and relate to him and feel that you are right there with him with his fight for survival and just a heads up for the squeamish that thing get pretty graphic in some scenes and if you read the book you know what I mean. This movie is so inspirational, moving, intimate and makes you want to live life to the fullest and it shows how precious life is, you'll be thankful to be alive and well. The cinematography is outstanding in this and Danny Boyle deserves an Oscar for best director because this is ten times better than Slumdog Millionaire. Overall this movie is flawless to me because it has an amazing true story, a great performance from James Franco, stunning film-work, never dull,slow or predictable it is masterful work! Highly Recommended!!!
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127 Hours, felt like longer
technojamfish23 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In fairness the film takes on a fairly difficult concept and to this end feel some sympathy towards it. However as far as films go this is drawn out. In some respects I suppose it is as expected. Lots of deep breathing and over done focus on a chap stuck down a hole. Thankfully, his moments of delirium,brings a little variety to the all too long and drawn scenario. Felt the film was more for the geek rather than someone wanting to see something enjoyable. I had hoped for a little more about the character and more to surround the scenario giving it build up. These aspects were lost. Given Danny Boyle's previous films have been of such an impeccable standard, this film has certainly not come up to that grade. Perhaps though taking such a minimalist theme was just a step to far.
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A life-affirming near-death experience
jpbrumby5 February 2012
A hiking and climbing trip in the mountains of Utah goes wrong for rock-climber Aron Ralston (James Franco) as a loose boulder falls and crushes his arm against the rock wall. Equipped with a half-empty bottle of water, a digital camera, some rope and a (very) dull blade, Ralston must take stock of the situation and figure out a way to escape.

The film is tight, pacey and not nearly as boring as it could have been in the hands of a more literal director. Danny Boyle and co. infuse every scene with energy, wowing viewers with panoramic cinematography and drilling the hard truths home when the time comes.

Ralston gets his arm trapped a mere 15 minutes in and from then on it's Man vs. Rock. Boyle brings his distinctive brand of energy to the potentially static set-up, with an unpredictable and often inspired soundtrack and the surreal tangents so successfully employed in his early classic, 'Trainspotting'. Though Ralston himself may not move, his mind wanders through old memories and viewers are transported with him.

Boyle has a talent for finding the life-affirming elements hidden deep within grim situations and '127 Hours' is nothing if not an exercise in hope and determination. Franco tracks Ralston's fight over the days with a sense of realism that brings the climber's plight into sharp focus, ensuring that there is much more to this film than limb-hacking.

The premise is handled well and the cast and crew know the strengths of the story; the scenery is beautiful and the human elements are as familiar as they are sad, brave and ultimately liberating. When the time comes, having accompanied Ralston through his trials and setbacks, you will be there with him when the helicopter lands.
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Entertaining, for about 20 minutes
CineCritic25177 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A reckless young climber gets stuck in a canyon. For him to get out requires him to somehow cut off his own arm. And unless you're complete unaware of the story, you already know the sequence of events that will be covered during the runtime of this movie. James Franco does his best with a non existing script and Boyle manages on occasion to give the movie some thrust with his MTV video style direction. But it soon all wears off. There's just not much of story here and watching 90 minutes of something so thin and predictable, just doesn't work. The movie Open Water came to mind. And that is not a good thing.

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sendtomy9 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
An empty guy falls into a hole, spends a lot of time in there looking for ways out and into himself, finding that his life was empty. He then cuts his arm and liberates himself. Period. That's the plot. What was good: music, some scenes with his camcorder. What was bad: shaky camera work, lack of any food for thought. I could not detect any character development, although some of the reviewers were exulting about the human spirit etc. What I saw was a reckless alpha-male, who even in that terrible situation kept thinking about females and even attempted to masturbate. Unless you are into one-man-horror movies, skip this one. A 6 out of 10 is a very generous vote here - this work is very mediocre.
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Danny Boyle Strikes Out
vitaleralphlouis4 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
127 HOURS starts out badly and never recovers. All we know about this guy Ralston is he's racing a bicycle across Utah trying to get somewhere or other 45 minutes quicker than anyone before. Suddenly for no reason he's on foot, still racing, and meeting two girls. He loses sight of his goals and sets about impressing the girls involving them in irresponsible behavior jumping around the sharp and dangerous rocks of Moab, Utah.

Soon after leaving the girls, he's still jumping around like a jerk when the ground gives way; he slides, and his forearm is stuck under a very heavy rock. He makes a courageous and focused effort to free himself, but eventually (as you know) he'll cut off the arm to save his life. (These scenes are no more graphic than necessary.)

We are supposed to get to know Ralston through his many flashbacks. Unfortunately, his life was apparently no more interesting than that of a cigar store wooden Indian -- not much there.

We're initially given nothing to make us care about Ralston, later we learn nothing much, and by movie's end he's still a blank slate.

Danny Boyle uses a few cheap tricks such as turning the volume up seriously loud on the background music when something (supposedly) interesting happens. In truth this is pure "What do I do next syndrome" following his truly excellent "Slumdog Millionaire." In Slumdog, he grabbed our emotions over-and-over with one brilliant scene after another. Herein, nothing.

I saw this film under perfect conditions at my childhood neighborhood theater, now the restored AFI SILVER, one of America's finest movie houses. Comfortable seats, extra legroom, giant screen, THX stereo. A good movie would have made it great.
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I'm feeling confused
Paranoyia30 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Just like the infamous Confused Matthew I'm feeling confused about this movie. Why does it get so high of a score?

I knew right from the start this movie was going to be an awful experience. I knew right from the start it had two ingredients that would kill this movie for me. Firstly it is based upon real event, and an interpretation of real events is always such a delight to witness. And secondly it was about a guy talking to himself for ninety five percent of the movie. To me even one of those two reagents is a no go.

But alas I was in a way dragged in to see it, nothing I could do about it. And the reason I hated this movie so much wasn't because of the two constructs established, but a third I wasn't aware of before a movie ended. If it hadn't been for the third thing I wouldn't even waste my time on writing a review.

And the third thing is: it tries to convey a wrong message, and does so poorly!

There is a fundamental difference between being a loner and being an idiot. And our beloved protagonist played by Jim Franco is exactly both. But the funny thing is that the movie blames all his misfortunes not on him being an idiot, but rather on him being a loner.

I am a cynical loner myself. You could argue about my level of intelligence, but in all of my individualism I would never go mountain or cave climbing alone, without telling my relatives my exact route, estimated times of arrival at each checkpoint, and bringing both a long- range mobile phone and GPS along with a massive amount of supplies with me.

And that anti-hero of ours does neither of those things! And what does he blame it all on? Ooh, he's a lone hero, he doesn't need anyone. No, no, he's not stupid, he's just a loner. Ugh, what a load of bull.

And the way they shove this idiotic notion in our faces is anything but subtle. That's why as I said earlier it tries to convey a wrong message poorly. That's about it when the movie becomes a total pile of steaming junk, culminating at the end. Else I could at least let them score a point for telling an idea, albeit a wrong one in a right way.

This movie is nothing more than another piece of societal propaganda, preaching and forcing their morals and values on us, the individuals. But don't believe a word I say without proof. Watch it and judge for yourself, but approach it very carefully, as such movies are dangerous.
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127 Hours sucks!!
krycek199 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Warning: this movie is boring and it will tick you off and put you to sleep.


Moron goes hiking in the mountains without a cell-phone, without a GPS, without telling anyone where he's going. But he remembers a digital camera and a video-camera that apparently has enough battery-power to last 127 hours. He gets trapped in a canyon when he's arm is crushed under a big rock. After 127 hours he cuts his arm off.

This movie is pointless and boring and a piece of trash and not the masterpiece people make it out to be. It's not a movie about survival and the guy is NOT a hero. This is a guy that left everything back home, including his brain. And it's not a miracle that he survived, more, just dumb luck. Avoid this snooze-fest even on TV.
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Just "not bad"
The_Hateful_Citizen2 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is rather successful, at least when you see the basic scenario, making a whole movie about a guy stuck for 127 hours is not easy. But this one is a good movie, we are bored at times but nothing serious. However this film remains a film without a goal and to make a film of an hour and a half on a true story which can be summarized in a few lines is very delicate, too much delicate and it's why it's difficult for this movie to have more than 6/10, it just remains "not bad".
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Waste of time.
aquin-dmello4 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The single point is simply because its based on a true story and for the courage of the man who endured it. The movie portrays the character in a very bad light, from being stupid to arrogant to crazy. 1) He is never in pain. From the fall to the rescue, there's no display of pain at all, just self loathing. 2) The character is extremely arrogant. Humoring his situation and not once feeling the need to cry out to a higher power which in most cases I'm sure most people would do. Maybe he wanted to be politically correct. 3) He has episodes of sexual arousal, I kid you not. He even plays a video and tries to masturbate. 4) Very poor stoy telling. In fact there is no story. Everything tries to stand on the one fact that he is stuck at the canyon. So the reason for all the high points ? Maybe these are all Danny Boyle fans, who won't let him down, no matter what.
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James Franco's One Man Show
3xHCCH13 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In "127 Hours", James Franco plays Aron Ralston, an alpha male rock- climber who got trapped in a crevice in Utah Canyonwoods Park back in April 2003 when a big rock pinned his right hand. I was curious at how director Danny Boyle was able to expound on this limited premise and get awards buzz, so I watched despite my initial lack of interest.

The trapping incident occurs only 15 minutes into the film. From there and the next hour, we get to see Aron talking to himself and to his camera, philosophizing, hallucinating about past and future, as he struggles to survive and extricate himself from this trap. All this, up to the harrowing last 20 minutes when he does escape, all graphically and painfully captured on screen.

The spectacular achievement in this film is the beautiful cinematography. The camera work, the composition, lighting and the angles were fantastic. The scenery of the vast canyons, the rolling clouds, the flash flood, the creeping sunbeam, even the water bottle, -- all awesome photography.

James Franco has certainly progressed from his Harry Osborne days. He carries this movie all by himself, as there are practically no other supporting characters. This is his one-man show. That scene capturing the moment when Aron first realizes that he is trapped was so naturally done -- a great acting moment for Franco.

As I said, initially I did not like to watch this. In all the press releases, we know he will cut off his arm in order to save himself, so there was even no surprise on how the movie will end. You can imagining how singular this incident is, in such an enclosed space, with a particularly gruesome climax. This movie is clearly not for everybody. It shows a man's struggle to survive at all costs. You know the message is positive, but are you willing to watch it? Now, that is another question.
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I don't usually write reviews, but felt I needed to after watching this masterpiece.
Jiminy_critic10 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Where do I begin? I went to the cinema with medium expectations of this film. I am a fan of Danny Boyle movies, from Shallow Grave through to 21 Days Later. I liked (not loved) Slumdog Millionaire, but wasn't on the bandwagon of hype that surrounded the movie. I am also a James Franco fan, and loved Pineapple Express and was surprised how well he acted in that movie. I also remember him playing James Dean in a TV movie, which also impressed me too. However, it did not prepare me for what I was about to see with this film.

Right from the get go you are introduced to the film with the feel of a pulse, from the music that is played during the credits (May I add the use of music throughout this movie was absolutely perfect, and really added so much emotion and texture to the scenes), right through to the use of camera, and the split screen where you see crowds of people going about their daily lives. It then focuses on Franco's character, Aron Ralston. We see quick, cleverly cut and filmed sequences of him preparing for a hike. From intricate, yet simple shots from inside his fridge, to the top of his shelf, with the focus on his hands grabbing these items. I loved these quick shots, and from the start set the kinetic film style and pace. I am not going to spoil anything for you here, but the next 20 minutes of the film is a build up, which is very cleverly done. Anyone that is familiar with the story will appreciate how well the tension is built upon.

After the accident occurs, we are left with Aron as he first physically struggles to get himself out of the situation. You really feel that you are there with him. The locations used are beautiful, yet eerie at the same time. After he is physically worn out from trying to escape, you begin to see the psychological breakdown. This is where things get interesting, and really where Franco shines. As we are with him in this situation, you see how his character goes from thinking he will get himself out of this, to a complete breakdown. As he is trapped there for so long, he finds himself dehydrating, and losing the will to live. However, the things that keeps him going, and keeps the audience completely involved and on tender hooks, is the very cleverly crafted flashbacks of what keeps him going. From is family, one of his past girlfriend's right through to some very well executed hallucinations. Often I found myself laughing at the certain things that Franco's character was thinking and dreaming up in his mind, and after the laughter, Boyle would build the tension straight up again and tug on the heart strings with only a few words and expressions from Franco's face. By the end of the movie, you will be there with the character, you will him to go on. I felt that this movie touched on so many things such as spirituality, love, hope and survival and all these common emotions we all share as human beings. At the very end of the movie, the music yet again is used perfectly, and gave me a joyous, almost overpowering feeling of a mixed range of emotions. I still had the adrenaline pumping from 'that' scene I'm sure many of you reading this are aware of (which was also brilliantly done, from the sound effects of shredding nerves, right through the Franco's acting and the use of the camera angles and sfx). As the end drew to a close, I was struggling to hold back the tears as hard as I could, (my girlfriend had been crying intermittently throughout the film, and I couldn't blame her).

127 hours It was a joyous, uplifting, spiritual movie experience. It had all the elements of what filmmaking is about. It was a thriller, a drama, a romance, a horror, even comedy at some points all rolled into one. A poignant, timeless message of what is it to be alive, of how blessed we all truly are, and of how reliant we are upon each other. To quite simply put it, this was my favourite movie of 2010/2011, and will certainly go down as one of my favourite movies of all time.
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Human suffering trivialised by YouTube type treatment
dapgray26 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I feel compelled to write my first IMDb review after seeing this film in the same week that I also saw the Kings Speech. Both films have a very basic premise that requires some imaginative screenplay to sustain them. Climber falls down ravine but survives after resorting to desperate measures; Man becomes become King unexpectedly and has to overcome speech defect. The results of both dramas are already known before the films were made. So Danny Boyle decides to rework Trainspotting to give his story some legs - man cycling/running across landscape to pumping music,liquid/ drugs travelling down tubes, flashback/hallucinatory images, gross out gore etc etc. We have seen it all before including Shallow Grave . Has DB a lavatorial fetish ? Man dives down excrement filled lavatories in both Trainspotting and Slumdog now he drinks urine and dives into fetid puddle in 127. Throughout, the struggle is trivialised with gimmickry, and the hero evokes no sympathy; now in comparison I even empathise with Joe Simpson in Into the Void ! Yet Kings Speech relies on splendid dialogue, appropriate soundtrack and quality acting with the mild outrage of the f word. The lasting message of 127 is a Health and Safety moral - always tell someone where you are going and make sure you take your Swiss Army Knife. No more than that . An Oscar , I hope not. However none of the above should detract from Aron's bravery, his story deserved more sympathetic treatment.
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