127 Hours Review
127 Hours may be about Aron Ralston and his struggle to free himself from a boulder, but the film really centers on two artists of the film industry, Danny Boyle (Oscar winning director of Slumdog Millionaire) and James Franco (doing everything nowadays including hosting the upcoming Oscar ceremony). One completely succeeds with his contributions to the film while the film might have been a bit better without the contributions of the other.
127 Hours tells the real life story of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco in the film), who while hiking in Utah got his arm caught under a boulder. Ralston eventually had to cut his arm off after staying in his situation for 127 hours (thus the title).
127 Hours is Danny Boyle's follow up to his Best Director winning work on Slumdog Millionaire and even reunites with the Best Adapted Screenplay winner for that film, Simon Beaufoy. Both of their work on this film is only adequate. I really don't understand the love these two are getting for this film (both received a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for their work). The screenplay is adequate but was not at all instrumental in the success of the film and don't even get me started on the direction. Boyle's hyper directing style is way too distracting in this film to the point that it almost derails the film. Too many times does Boyle try to use quick shots of hazy memories of Ralston, water bottles being emptied, and storage bags being filled with bodily fluids. Martin Scorsese is known for his music video-like, hyper-kinetic directing style but Boyle's work here is that on ADD. It just doesn't work.
Despite the problems with the directing and writing, the film is completely saved by a tour-de-force performance by James Franco. James Franco has thus far been known for his work on the Spider-Man series and Pineapple Express, but this is by far his best performance. He completely succeeds in a Tom Hanks in Cast Away type performance. With the exception of the ending and some quick flashback scenes, James Franco is completely alone onscreen. Somehow, Franco keeps you interested in the character and the film despite other parts of the production not working. A Gollum/Smeagol like scene where Ralston interviews himself as a new anchor is the best scene of this film that could easily be considered a highlight reel of great acting. He is simply brilliant. The small parts from others in the film are not at all memorable and don't deserve to be recognized individually.
The behind the camera aspects of the film are a mixed bag. The cinematography is phenomenal as I still don't know how Anthony Dod Mantle pulled off many of the shots (such as the inside the water bottle shots). The score by A.R. Rahman is great and much better than his overrated work on Slumdog Millionaire. Unfortunately, his song with Dido is nowhere near (in terms of quality) the songs from that film. The editing was a huge issue as it contributed to that hyper-kinetic style that stopped the film from reaching greatness. The sound was good but not great like many have been saying.
127 Hours is a good film almost derailed by Danny Boyle. Luckily, James Franco is the film. Aron Ralston had to cut his arm off but James Franco had to carry an entire film on his back to the finish line.
127 Hours was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including:
-Best Lead Actor-James Franco
-Best Adapted Screenplay
-Best Original Score
-Best Original Song-"If I Rise"
-Best Film Editing
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