Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Amputation, Dehydration, Hiking and Hope - 127 Hours, A Review

After seeing the movie '127 Hours', I had one thought.

I must drink copious amounts of water as soon as possible.

The film did leave me with other lasting impressions, most of which I will share with you here. However, if you take nothing else away from this post, please know to bring a large bottle of water with you to the theater.

As trapped hiker Aron Ralston, actor James Franco gives a striking performance where he so convincingly portrays the effects of hopeless dehydration that I thought I might just be dying of thirst during my scant 90 minutes reclining in my cushy chair. Not really. (Kind of.)

In fact, Franco is the main and principal character in the film. At the start of the movie, Franco's Aron Ralston frolics effortlessly through the first twenty minutes of screentime. During this time, everything on screen is subject to his flirtatious and coy nature. He mugs for both his handheld camcorder and digital camera, charms a duo of females he encounters on the trail, and continually skirts the edge of danger.

His dashing smile and endearing quality embue him with a sense of sublime confidence. However, the inevitable happens. His arm becomes pinned to a large boulder, and the clock starts ticking. Aron enters 'survival mode', and the audience takes that journey with him. Grimly introspective 'real-time' moments are puncuated by historical flashbacks with a somewhat disjointed and schizophrenic feeling.

As a viewer, I rooted for Aron to free himself. To defy the odds and cut that damned arm off. Once the amputation became reality on screen, I cringed, buried my face in my popcorn bag and wondered out loud if I would have the fortitude to do the drastic and unthinkable. However as skilled as Franco is, I believe that more could have been done with the script.

Franco does a convincing job of making the dialogue spoken to a rock face enclosure and camcorder ring true, but we never actually witness him fostering a deep human connection. Therefore I felt somewhat unconnected to him. I left feeling more that the character is a unique wonder of the human spirit, like something to be observed in a museum, rather than a lone individual who embodies the strength every human has within them for greatness and survival. The film left me wanting to know more about Ralston's life, and motivated me to click on over to amazon.com after the ending credits and place the book that the movie was based upon in my cart.

So, should you see the movie? In a word - definitely. Franco's raw and lived in performance is worth the price of admission. For young men in Hollywood, I would argue that his talent and versatility is rivaled by few others. For the faint of heart, I would suggest an extra large popcorn to hide your eyes behind.

And, of course, don't forget the water.


  1. Will bear your review in mind should I get the oppertunity to watch the movie. I doubt I'll actually go out to see it - I don't go to the cinema to see movies very often - but I expect it will be on the movie channels on TV at some point, so I'll watch it then.

  2. I don't know...I heard this one was pretty graphic. And knowing already how it ends, I'm thinking I could skip it. You did a great review, though. Very professional!

  3. I remember seeing this guy on a cable series called "I should be dead" or something like that. i do't think i could see the movie after that. Thanks for the review! It pretty much solidified my feelings on the subject...

  4. @ Toriz - Watching at home is probably a better option than the theater, where the gore is on a two-story screen in front of you. Good call!

    @ Chicken - Thanks for the compliment! If you're looking for something a little less graphic with the wonderful James Franco, maybe try Pineapple Express? He was pretty fantastic in that movie as well...and it was hilarious.

    @ Pat Tillett - Oh no! It was pretty grisly, but a good movie all around. I think my horror was pretty apparent in the review. You could always rent like the above poster and fast forward the grisly parts!