Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Uncomfortable, but Amazing
[Spoiler Alert] For those of you that don’t already know the story, I do spoil the ending in this review – mostly because the movie wasn’t about how it ends as much as it was about a personal account on getting to the end.
I have seen a few “true story” flicks in my time that were actually true to the source material, but for some reason or another, they are far and few between. Hollywood has a way of changing things around the way that they like, and personally…I think that is usually a really bad decision. Those films that were true to the source material have been some of the most engaging and fantastic movies I have ever seen. Most of the time, real life is boring for us. Stuff in the movies just seems so distant and not possible that we forget that in extreme cases, real life can be exactly like the movies. 127 Hours is a pristine example of what I call perfection in film, and it so happens to be the second film in almost 500 entries to obtain that perfect score.
Aron Ralston (James Franco) is an outdoorsy, sporty guy who just loves having a good time. An engineer by trade, Ralston loves going to his second life out in the canyons near Moab, Utah. So one fateful day, Aron sets out in the middle of the night, tells no one where he’s gone, and goes to canyonland to ride his bike, do a little exploring, and climb some crazy terrain in quiet peace. Out of nowhere, Aron slips into a deep cavern in Blue John Canyon, getting his arm stuck under a boulder. The only way to escape, as you probably know, is to cut off his own arm.
As you know, this movie is not about learning what this guy is going to do to get out. It was all over the news, this is a well-documented story. This was about a first-hand experience and journey to obtaining the courage to do what was necessary. The only way to do that, in my opinion, was to film a movie the very way that Danny Boyle did. You can easily have a documentary, but while a documentary thrives on information, it lacks tremendously in conveying emotion. You can say that bear ate that fish, but you won’t care as much as if the bear showed you how he ate it, watch his facial expressions as he ate it, along with tricky camera maneuvers to really get the point across. This is better than any documentary could ever hope for, because they had James Franco.
I hate to admit it, but I am not the biggest Franco fan; however, Franco really outdid himself here. He was brilliant in this film. You start to forget about Franco’s past work while watching that, and I think that is what real acting is all about. If you change enough for a role, you should be able to fool the audience into forgetting about your career, and only care about your character that you are portraying right then, and they did that. Plus, because of the nature of the film, you see him in almost…almost every single scene. There are some hallucination shots here and there, but they are short and far between. Most of the film takes place in one location, and you can hardly tell.
You can hardly tell about the location, because that wasn’t the focus. Boyle was able to supremely direct this film by getting camera angles that really show the feeling of claustrophobia and hopelessness. The sound editing implements sounds of pain. That’s right, not just yelling, but literally a sound that makes you cringe with pain. The CGI effects when used were purposefully low budget, because real life isn’t CGI, they tried to make this realistic as possible, because everything that happened in this movie happened in real life, exactly how it happened in real life, as confirmed by the real Ralston, who broke down in tears when asked how true-to-life the film was.
Right down to Franco shaking his hands in pain as he chips away the rock with the multi-tool. Those thing are really painful if used for long periods, did you know that? Did this movie need to do that at all? No, and in fact if they let out that, or a bunch of tiny facts, no one but the real Ralston would have ever noticed. The fact that they did was brilliant, because usually small details are essentially useless in movies. This just added to the realism, and how they were able to make this so real and yet still thriller/drama material is beyond me. They did it, and they did it well. I cannot think of a single bad thing to say about this film.
It is beautiful, it is unique, and it showcases the fact that not all hope is lost. It is one of the few movies to really pull an emotional reaction from me personally, and that is saying a lot. I know what happens, because I have seen it multiple times, but every single time…I’m on the edge of my seat cringing. Man versus nature is not unknown in the movie industry, but it is sure hard to find in true stories. Now, if only Bear Grylls was there to save the day.