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"127 Hours", director Danny Boyle's ("Trainspotting", "28 Days Later") follow-up to "Slumdog Millionaire" is a near great film. I honestly can't tell you the last time I was so moved by a piece of celluloid. "127" has created both pleasant and nightmarish memories, memories that will stay with me for many, many years to come.

Aron Ralston (James Franco) quickly grabs some supplies and heads out to his favorite spot, the canyons near Moab, Utah. As soon as the sun rises, he jumps on a mountain bike and heads out to explore and enjoy the great outdoors, heading to a spot some twenty miles away. He crosses paths with two young women, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn) and agrees to show them the way to their destination. Once there, they swim and dive and have fun. After a few hours, they head on to complete their individual journeys. As Aron navigates a narrow crevasse, a small boulder comes loose, causing him to fall and wedging his arm between the wall and the boulder. He can't budge it and becomes worried at the sight of some streaks of blood. Aron takes stock and has very limited food, some water, stretchy cord, a camera, a video camera and a dull knife. Before leaving for the trip, he wasn't able to find his Swiss Army knife, so he is left with a dull give-away promotional knife. He tries to chip away at the sandstone, to move the rock, but doesn't make any progress. Over the next five days and twenty hours, Aron has to figure out how to use the limited supplies he has to survive until he can be rescued. Or, on the other hand, he has to figure out if and how he can get out of this situation on his own.

Boyle starts the film by masterfully depicting why Aron, and others like him, are so eager to escape the city, eager to mountain bike in the wilderness, eager to climb rock formations, eager to backpack. When he meets the two women, they even remark about how they don't feel like they figured into Aron's day. Aron is the type of guy who actively looks for adventure and makes decisions on the spur of the moment. This is why he agrees to spend time with the young women, setting his schedule back half a day.

As soon as Aron gets trapped, Boyle has to do something to give us more details into the adventurer's history. He has to make us care about this man and he can't really do that by keeping us only with Aron for the rest of the film. As Ralston tries to assess his situation, a memory surfaces and this gives Boyle the opportunity to show us a brief part of his past. The technique Boyle uses seems more suited for films made in the late '60s. And normally, this would drive me crazy. But in this situation, these moments work, primarily because they are pretty brief. They also move back and forth between more real and more imagined settings. For instance, Aron remembers a moment he and his dad shared during his childhood. They sit on an old couch in the family home, talking. Then his dad is gone and young Aron is still sitting on the couch, but the couch now sits in the crevasse Aron is trapped in, the sand and rock walls surrounding the furniture, visible to the side.

Boyle introduces us to Aron's father (Treat Williams) and mother (Kate Burton) and the love of his life, Rana (Clemence Poesy). These moments, though brief, helps to give us insight into Aron's character and life. Because they are so brief, it is surprising that we feel we know Aron and his family so well. We really get a feeling for him and come to care for him.

A lot of the credit for the success of this film lies with Franco. For much of the relatively short running time, Franco is the only person on screen and this would only serve to amplify any poorly acted moment, any false characterization, any thing that doesn't ring true. From the first moment he is on screen, we start to understand him. He is most happy when he is explaining what some stretch of wilderness is, the history of a cavern, earning some bit of solitude to compensate for any minute of time he is forced to spend cooped up in the city. In this element, he finds peace and revels in every moment.

When he meets Kristi and Megan, Franco's smile helps us recognize he simply wants to have a good time. Sex isn't a part of the equation, he wants to share some moments with like personalities. Later, when he is trapped and has a lot of time to think, he remembers back to some moments in his life. When we return to him, Franco's demeanor and facial expressions seem to be an honest portrayal of how the young man would react. And make us feel he is really remembering these moments.

When Aron finally realizes what he has to do, Franco shows us the horror of this realization and the pain of this decision.

THE moment is both necessary and extremely difficult to watch. It is necessary because it is a part of the story. But so many other filmmakers would shy away from a frank depiction of this moment. Boyle doesn't. Without it, the story would be nowhere near as impactful. Because of it, you might have nightmares. It would be gruesome enough, hard enough to watch if he had found his Swiss Army knife. But without it... I just shudder thinking about it again.

The film ends with a coda giving us an update on Aron Ralston's life. During the moments before this, I started to tear up because he was going to be okay, because he was going to make it, something I already knew given he wrote the book this film is based on, but I was still extremely moved. And the last few moments give us a glimpse of the real Ralston and all of the people affected by this incident. Because of everything Boyle and Franco are able to accomplish throughout the film, I was extremely moved by these brief images.

Best of all, Boyle ends the film, presents this coda, in a way stylistically in tune with the rest of the journey and all of those memory flashbacks/

"127 Hours" is a great piece of filmmaking. You need to see it. You can always close your eyes if that scene becomes too much for you.
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From the macabre paranoia of "Shallow Grave" to the comedic debauchery of "Trainspotting" to the disturbing creepiness of "28 Days Later" to the fanciful romanticism of "Slumdog Millionaire," director Danny Boyle has made kinetic films that really connect to the viewer at a visceral level. Very much a visual stylist, Boyle uses every tool at his disposal--quick cut editing, frantic camera movement, fantasy sequences, jarring music--to really delve into the emotional core of whatever story he is telling. At first glance, "127 Hours" would seem an odd follow-up to the Oscar winning "Slumdog." Stripped down to the most primal level, "127 Hours" is one of the simplest, most straightforward narratives you're likely to encounter. And yet, through the technical bells and whistles and an earnest James Franco performance, you are immersed in a world of madness, desperation, perseverance, hope, struggle and ultimately survival. And there is no denying that this very matter-of-fact tale packs a punch!

Franco plays real-life adventurer Aron Ralston. In 2003, the reckless Ralston set off to explore Utah's Canyonlands National Park. No one knew where he is going and safety was secondary to fun in Ralston's blissed-out commune with nature. While negotiating a crevice, a boulder dislodged and trapped Ralston's arm stranding him in isolation within the earth. The film then documents Ralston's dilemma for the next 127 hours. With limited supplies and no mobility, Boyle makes the most of his claustrophobic environment by inviting us into Ralston's mind. And the primary success of "127 Hours" is that it really traps us within this confined space as well. We're there to the bitter end where survival and sacrifice meet at a crossroads.

In many ways, I wish people cold go into "127 Hours" with no expectations and forewarning of what is going to happen. I know that's naive. Ralston's tale is certainly public domain--reported on TV, the subject of books and news features. In fact, the entire film is marketed around the gruesome turning point in Ralston's struggle. This decisive act that spared Ralston's life is so harrowing and Boyle does not shy away from its unpleasantness. But the promise of this scene lingers over all that proceeds it. We are biding time for this ultimate act. We know what's going to happen and we know it's going to be graphic--everyone has told us so well in advance. But that sequence is so strong, it has come to define the entire movie. "127 Hours" has literally come to be described as "the movie where he......." (I, for my part, have resisted divulging this point--although you can read it everywhere else, including the product description and other reviews).

Franco does a great job making us root for Ralston. Impetuous and somewhat irresponsible, this thrill seeker didn't take the necessary precautions advisable. He thought he was immune to the dangers inherent in the mountain. But Franco makes him such a life force, you want him to be the victor over his poor decisions. His whip smart survival instinct keeps him alive and he never gives up. But as he faces mortality, he comes to understand his shortcomings and even faces visions of the future. His videotaped proclamations to his family are the emotional highpoint of "127 Hours." Franco is a physical actor and acquits himself well in the adventure scenes--but it is the immobile moments that showcase an interior to Franco that hasn't always been on full display in other films. Boyle takes full advantage of Franco and delivers one of the year's most effective human dramas. Stunning in its simplicity, "127 Hours" has an energy and vitality that make it stand out from the pack. KGHarris, 11/10.
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From the macabre paranoia of "Shallow Grave" to the comedic debauchery of "Trainspotting" to the disturbing creepiness of "28 Days Later" to the fanciful romanticism of "Slumdog Millionaire," director Danny Boyle has made kinetic films that really connect to the viewer at a visceral level. Very much a visual stylist, Boyle uses every tool at his disposal--quick cut editing, frantic camera movement, fantasy sequences, jarring music--to really delve into the emotional core of whatever story he is telling. At first glance, "127 Hours" would seem an odd follow-up to the Oscar winning "Slumdog." Stripped down to the most primal level, "127 Hours" is one of the simplest, most straightforward narratives you're likely to encounter. And yet, through the technical bells and whistles and an earnest James Franco performance, you are immersed in a world of madness, desperation, perseverance, hope, struggle and ultimately survival. And there is no denying that this very matter-of-fact tale packs a punch!

Franco plays real-life adventurer Aron Ralston. In 2003, the reckless Ralston set off to explore Utah's Canyonlands National Park. No one knew where he is going and safety was secondary to fun in Ralston's blissed-out commune with nature. While negotiating a crevice, a boulder dislodged and trapped Ralston's arm stranding him in isolation within the earth. The film then documents Ralston's dilemma for the next 127 hours. With limited supplies and no mobility, Boyle makes the most of his claustrophobic environment by inviting us into Ralston's mind. And the primary success of "127 Hours" is that it really traps us within this confined space as well. We're there to the bitter end where survival and sacrifice meet at a crossroads.

In many ways, I wish people cold go into "127 Hours" with no expectations and forewarning of what is going to happen. I know that's naive. Ralston's tale is certainly public domain--reported on TV, the subject of books and news features. In fact, the entire film is marketed around the gruesome turning point in Ralston's struggle. This decisive act that spared Ralston's life is so harrowing and Boyle does not shy away from its unpleasantness. But the promise of this scene lingers over all that proceeds it. We are biding time for this ultimate act. We know what's going to happen and we know it's going to be graphic--everyone has told us so well in advance. But that sequence is so strong, it has come to define the entire movie. "127 Hours" has literally come to be described as "the movie where he......." (I, for my part, have resisted divulging this point--although you can read it everywhere else, including the product description and other reviews).

Franco does a great job making us root for Ralston. Impetuous and somewhat irresponsible, this thrill seeker didn't take the necessary precautions advisable. He thought he was immune to the dangers inherent in the mountain. But Franco makes him such a life force, you want him to be the victor over his poor decisions. His whip smart survival instinct keeps him alive and he never gives up. But as he faces mortality, he comes to understand his shortcomings and even faces visions of the future. His videotaped proclamations to his family are the emotional highpoint of "127 Hours." Franco is a physical actor and acquits himself well in the adventure scenes--but it is the immobile moments that showcase an interior to Franco that hasn't always been on full display in other films. Boyle takes full advantage of Franco and delivers one of the year's most effective human dramas. Stunning in its simplicity, "127 Hours" has an energy and vitality that make it stand out from the pack. KGHarris, 11/10.
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on May 22, 2012
The story of Danny Boyle's 127 HOURS is no secret -- it's a true account of a lone hiker who finds himself trapped for days. This movie has a simple premise, and its not a pleasant one. Luckily for the audience, the execution here is top notch. The claustrophobic setting here is conveyed well without ever feeling clunky or confusing. Danny Boyle, who is known for his highly kinetic shooting and editing, paces this film extraordinarily well. It's never boring, sluggish, or jarring. The audience may be trapped with James Franco (who gives the best performance of his career) in this ravine, but the audience is never abused or mistreated. Additionally, Franco never feels like he is being championed as a hero. The film gives his character a pretty objective and critical eye; he made mistakes that could have (and should have) been prevented.

127 HOURS speaks well of the human condition. We may look at these circumstances and claim that we could never go to the lengths that Franco goes through to free himself. The truth is, we would. The truth is, we need people. We need to be connected. The beginning and ending of this film work together extraordinarily well. In the beginning, society looks crowded, loud, and obtrusive. By the end, we long for that crowded, loud, and obtrusive society that we thought we wanted to flee from.

I'd recommend watching this; it's not easy, but it's rewarding. Unfortunately, repeat viewings are not sufficiently rewarded, and there isn't much to gain from the Blu-ray version of this either. For these reasons, I'd suggesting renting this one off Amazon instead of buying it.
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on June 15, 2011
Based on the true story of Aron Ralston and the book, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place", published by Simon & Schuster (2004).
Aron Ralston is a outdoorsman and avid hiker. He is 27. It is a sunny day in April of 2003. Without telling anyone, he decides to go biking and hiking in Blue John Canyon in Utah. After meeting two female hikers and spending part of the day with them, he goes back to exploring. He steps on a 800-pound boulder that was suspended in a cervice. The boulder becomes loose and Aron falls deep down in the cervice. He is now between the rock walls with his wrist and arm stuck by the boulder. He can not get loose. The pain is incredible. He has a camcorder to record the hours and days he is stuck there. He reminds himself "not to loose it". It is impossible for him to be seen or heard...or found.

James Franco as "Aron Ralston". Kate Mara as "Kristi". Amber Tamblin as "Megan". Treat Williams as "
The real Aron Ralston makes an appearance as himself in he movie.

Alot of product advertising in this movie. McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy's, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Sunkist.

Movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Actor, Screenplay writing, Editing, Original Score, Original Song.

The real video recording of Aron's ordeal is locked in a bank vault for safety. Only his family and friends and director Danny Boyle has seen it all.

I watched this movie on Amazon Instant Video On Demand. When you are finished watching movie, press the ESC button on your keyboard to return to your normal screen.
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on December 22, 2010
I saw this movie yesterday and have to say that it is one of the great movies of the year. This is no surprise when you learn that Danny Boyle was the Director and Producer as Slumdog Millionaire was great as well. This is the story as many folks know about a man who was (is) an avid hiker and mountaineer and is out one day climbing and hiking and gets trapped by a boulder. The only way to get out ended up being to saw his arm off and walk out. The movie is not for anyone who is squeamish but I have to say that even those parts were done in a realistic but sensitive way. The fact that he was able to survive and get out and make it back and even more importantly go on with his life as a climber and mountaineer is amazing. I think it is hard to say "if he can do it I can do it" because to be honest I hardly know anyone who truly can say they can do this. Who really do you know who can saw off their own arm with a pocketknife? But the movie itself was great, likely will win some awards, and I highly recommend it.
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on February 22, 2011
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wanted to see '127 Hours' because I kept wondering how anyone can make a film about a guy who gets his arm stuck under a boulder while hiking in the desert and then has to cut it off. Not only was I aware of the whole concept of the film and the ending but I also was wondering how do you make an interesting film about someone who is stuck in one small place for such a long period of time.

To my great surprise, '127 Hours' is a riveting tale of one man's survival in the face of certain death. How does director Danny Boyle pull it off? For starters, James Franco is a brilliant casting choice to play Aron Ralston, the daredevil hiker who ends up between a 'rock and a hard place'. Franco is an immensely likable fellow who conveys Ralston's reckless and devil may care attitude that leads him to his date with destiny. When Ralston meets the two female hikers and escorts them to an underground grotto where they go swimming, Boyle uses that scene to reinforce our perception of Ralston as a daredevil, who risks his own life (as well as the lives of two strangers) as he seeks one more thrill, sliding between a crevice, and diving into the grotto, from a distance that an ordinary person would consider to be unsafe.

The incredible thing about '127 Hours' (and I found this out after I watched the film) is that almost everything that we see actually happened. Ralston did have a video camera and filmed himself while his arm was stuck under the rock. And the video camera that was used in the film, was also the actual camera Ralston used when he was trapped! Boyle builds the tension simply by documenting everything that happened. At first Ralston believes he can move the rock through sheer strength. When that fails, he tries to be more calculating by using a pocket knife to chip away at the rock but soon discovers that plan is completely ineffectual (adding to the tension is the scene where Ralston drops the knife and must retrieve it by attaching a bent wire and guiding it down to where the knife has fallen, by placing the wire between his toes).

Calling upon his survival skills, Ralston then designs an elaborate pulley system, hoping he'll be able to lift the rock, by using the weight of his body to move it. Finally, when that fails, he must concentrate on conserving the little water he has left, and figure out some other plan to extricate himself from his dire predicament. Boyle switches things up by introducing scenes in which Ralston begins hallucinating. In one such harrowing scene, after a cloud burst above in the desert, water cascades down into the crevice where Ralston is trapped, and he sees himself drowning. In another hallucinatory scene, Boyle introduces some comic relief by having Ralston imagine himself as a game show contestant, mocked by canned laughter due to his short-sightedness in failing to tell anyone where he was going.

As to the amputation itself, I was relieved it wasn't as gruesome as I had anticipated. Actually, it was more fascinating than terrifying. In an earlier scene, Ralston discovers that he is unable to sever his arm using his small dull knife. Later, however, he figures out that he must break his arm in two places and then use the plier part of his knife kit to literally grind and twist until he cuts off his arm.

As a result of this life changing event, Ralston has the epiphany that he had taken his family and friends for granted. Visions of the family and friends appear during the denouement and at the very end, Ralston himself, swimming in a pool, without his prosthesis, This of course suggests that the amputation has not squelched Ralston's love of the outdoors and taste for adventure. But one thing is for sure: when he takes a trip, he'll never again fail to tell those he is close to, where he is going.

The cinematography and the editing is superb here in both the expansive exterior shots and in the claustrophobic area where Franco maneuvers. True, '127 Hours' is basically a carbon copy of a true event, but Director Danny Boyle manages to take a story where we already know the ending and still made it gripping and compelling. That, of course, is no easy feat!
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on March 4, 2011
After seeing the film in theatres twice, I decided to order (directly from Amazon) this excellent (in my opinion) film by Danny Boyle. While, as with any film, I mostly bought it for the main feature, I was also interested in the background of the film and was looking forward to watching the Special Features listed as part of the product description:

"- Feature Commentary by Director/Co-Screenwriter Danny Boyle, Producer Christian Colson and Co-Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy
- Deleted Scenes
- Search & Rescue: Actual events that aided the search and rescue of Aron Ralston
- 127 Hours: An Extraordinary View - A unique collaboration between the director and actor
- Disc 2: Digital Copy"

However, the single disc I received only contained the commentary and deleted scenes. Neither of the featurettes were on the disc and there was no second disc containing the digital copy. After speaking with an Amazon representative and researching this a little bit, I discovered that these features are only a part of the Blu-Ray product. So, if you're into Blu-Ray (I am not, but that's a whole other story), then you will get everything you ordered. Unfortunately, the DVD comes up short, at least based on Amazon's description of it. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed with the product I received.
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on November 9, 2015
The acting was top notch. They way they were able to portray the levels of emotions as time wore on was just fantastic. This is one of those rare cases where I think the movie was better then the book.
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on October 7, 2013
On one level there's no reason this film should work as well as it does. The story is public knowledge so there's no real suspense in the traditional sense. But between the brilliant direction by Danny Boyle, and the smashing performance by James Franco this transcends to be not a film of suspense, but a character study of a very real, flawed but likeable person in a nightmare situation any of us can imagine. We descend into his lonely hell with him and emerged amazed by the resilience of this young man in particular, but also by life in general. I found it less 'thrilling', but - more important - far more moving than I expected.

Boyle works wonders in making what is essentially a one-character, single-location film never feel static or dull, and the gruesome climax is almost unbearable to watch without ever feeling exploitive.
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