Aron Ralston can be called several names: explorer, adrenalin junkie, and/or idiot. After stories surfaced that he was trapped in the American desert after a climbing accident where in he had to amputate his own arm with little more then a off the shelf tool, Aron has become a star in America, giving motivational speeches which he charges $37, 000 for. How could such a seemingly simplistic plot be fitted into a feature length movie is an impressive feet as writer director Danny Boyle steps up to tackle the amazing story of survival.
127 Hours is a film much like The Titanic, as in the audience knows what’s going to happen before it actually does. The film begins with Aron (James Franco) preparing to go on a trip and after collecting a few essentials such as water, food and Gatorade however missing his Swis Army by only a few centimetres (one of many shameful gags). After arriving in the desert he camps out until morning before taking a bike ride out across the harsh terrain. Along the way he happens to meet Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn), two young post college ‘explorers’ and spend a fun afternoon which aims to set up his character before going their separate ways. It is not long before the cocky armature explorer manages to slip whilst climbing and gets his hand crushed between a rock and the crevice wall.
Up until this point there is a certain tension which hangs over all the little moments when Aron is alone. The tension is then shifts after the accident to when he will eventually cut off his arm. Whilst Franco does fantastic performance the main flaw is in the character himself. He appears to be a fairly unlikable character who is so self obsessed that he videos trivial things such as himself riding a bike. Whether the real Aron Ralston is like this or not is irrelevant because it is hard to sympathise with a reckless, selfish adrenaline junkie who finally gets his comeuppance.
During the time which we are waiting for him to finally cut off his arm, Aron makes videos of himself as a diary of a man going crazy by isolation which is mirrored in his eyes. After making a little camp around him Aron has to ration all his belongings. All of the dialogue is also between himself and the camera as he narrates the situation to us. It’s around the mid point that Aron begins to loose it and the flashback begin with girlfriend Rana (Clémence Poésy) which leads to a truly appalling line after a break up in which she screams at him “You’ll always be alone.”
The lead up to the eventual dismemberment is filled with flash backs and hallucinations before Aron’s camera runs out of battery which forces him to finally cut it off. It is only until he can’t document himself that he feels the need to do something about the situation.
Danny Boyle reprises his usual frantic editing and unusual camera work as he rejoins Slumdog Millionaire DP Anthony Dod Mantle however it all become a bit much and a little too frantic. That mixed in with footage of people in crowds to further add the notion that he will be alone for the movie begins to border on the annoying. The film has also been compared to last years brilliant thriller flick Buried. Unfortunately it lacks the clever and pure execution that Buried prized itself on as the movie escapes the small confines which Aron finds himself in. It is understandable that he escapes his fate through his hallucinations however Buried just handled the idea of isolation much better as all the action happens which in the coffin.
127 Hours fits in well with Boyles body of work as the themes of survival and isolation are seen through out with films such as 28 days Later, Trainspotting and Sunshine. The gruesome special effects are handled excellently and it’s easy to believe the reports of fainting and stomach contents being emptied. Whilst 127 Hours is a fairly solid movie, there are bits which annoy (especially the cringey sequence before the credits) and it is the sort of film which only needs one viewing but it is a fairly amazing story of survival.
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