Howdy to all who may be reading this blog, today I return with another film review in the form of the Danny Boyle film 127 Hours, an adaptation of the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which documented the true events of a mountain climber, Aron Ralston whose played by James Franco in this film. Now I saw this film just after it came out in cinema back in 2011, but I didn’t watch again until I went to America and caught it on the plane while travelling over. So now that I’ve had time to reassess the film I think its time to review this film again with my better understanding of it, I’ll shall try to make it worth reading 🙂
Ever since I heard about this film I was continuously wondering just how it was going to be done. I mean here you have a film based on a real life situation of a very gruesome nature, plus it’s a film that’s primarily going to be based in one location for the main duration of the film, how long will the film be able to hold up before audiences get bored? Those were the main aspects I kept thinking about before seeing the film. It’s not that I didn’t have faith in Danny Boyle as a director because I know he’s brilliant, at that point in time I had only seen Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire but both films I enjoyed immensely so I wasn’t overly worried. However making a film about a man who goes climbing in the wilderness, gets his arm stuck beneath and boulder and then has to cut his arm off to get free doesn’t sound like a very inviting film. Plus the filmmakers and actors would have to portray it properly, so it wasn’t the easiest task to try and get right. But thankfully due to some clever direction by Danny Boyle, some wonderful cinematography, a great soundtrack by A. R. Rahman, a lovely script and fantastic performance from the leading man James Franco, the film all comes together in a very heartfelt and memorable way.
So let’s start with the story which is the main aspect of the film, now what makes a 127 Hours such a good film is the fact that it’s story is so interesting from start to finish. The introduction is fabulous with the use editing and great music to start the film off and straight from that point you are engaged, you establish the kind of lifestyle that Aron lives and get sucked into his world as he travels from the city into an isolated canyon in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Along the way he meets two girls and goes along with them to point them in the right direction while also hanging out and having fun. After leaving them he travels alone and while climbing grabs onto a loose boulder, he falls and then the boulder lands on his arm. And then the rest of the film is about how he survives through his traumatic situation of the course of time and the events leading up to how he frees himself.
Even though 127 Hours has a very difficult subject matter at the center of it all, the film is full of a range of different things like adventure, joy, pain, suffering, temptation and the concept of cause and effect. This film easily could have just been about one man stuck in a canyon for 90 minutes slowly succumbing to death and then escaping in a heroic and clichéd manner. But the way in which the filmmakers have tackled the problem of 127 Hours being potentially tedious and boring is by using flashbacks, hallucination sequences, having a well written screenplay and having one fantastic and varied performance by James Franco as Aron Ralston. Before saw this film I had only seen James Franco in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man film trilogy as Harry Osborn in which he was pretty darn good in my opinion. Since then I’ve only seen him in Date Night, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the one episode he was in 30 Rock, but from what I’ve seen so far he doesn’t disappoint and commits to whatever role he gets into and that is especially the case with 127 Hours. I think James Franco gives his best performance to date in this film and it was truly incredible. He portrays the many levels of emotion that one would go through in that situation, he has great range, more so than his previous work in my opinion, but I think the best parts is when he’s on edge, at those emotional breaking points and in a frail state. Those are the moments where he really shines and it all feels authentic and most importantly you connect with him too.
This film isn’t for the casual film watcher as it is a film based mainly in one location for the main duration of the film and while that doesn’t bother me too much, I know some people who wouldn’t watch the film purely based on that fact alone. As I just said I have seen a few films where the main location of the film doesn’t change like Lifeboat, Conspiracy and more recently Buried, all of which I highly recommend. One other thing to note is that this film isn’t for the skirmish either, there is also the point where he actually cuts his arm off which is pretty nasty and not for the faint-hearted, but it is very impressive to look at because of the level authenticity that went into it and how well James Franco deals with it. Gruesome but awesome! And just before I finish I just want to mention the film’s soundtrack, A. R. Rahman is man who knows how to craft a bloody good soundtrack. All of his tracks sound incredible and really add a great layer of emotion and atmosphere in the scenes its applied to. There is literally always the right kind of music for the right situation from A. R. Rahman’s compositions to use of songs in the film too which always seem to be on form especially the song that used in the trailer that’s also used in the film, “Never Hear Surf Music Again” by Free Blood, it’s very addictive.
Overall I think 127 Hours one of the best films I’ve seen for a while, it’s a wonderfully crafted, really raw and well worth a watch. If I were to rate the film I’d give it an 8.5/10.
Well thanks for reading and I’ll see you guys later!! 😀