Continuing in my new-found tradition of seeing things and then not telling you for a week ((or a month) ... or never), I'm here to finally post my review of Danny Boyle's latest film, 127 Hours, starring James Franco as Aron Ralston, a hiker who in 2003 accidentally got his arm trapped by a boulder while hiking alone in Utah, and his persistence to stay alive.
This is Boyle's first film since the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire, which I saw and really enjoyed (and would totally link you to a review of it if I wrote one...), and I watched Boyle's first film, Shallow Graves, recently and really enjoyed it; so I'll say that I went into this anticipating a film that would be worthwhile (and hopefully devoid of any unnecessary Bollywood dance numbers). And it delivered, but how can a film about a got trapped for 5 days be enjoyable? Well, read on...
First off, I didn't see this year's other 'man trapped in a cramped place for a long period of time' film, Buried, so I can't give any remarks about who does it better, but I can say that it comparison to a lot of things I've seen this year, I really did enjoy this. It's the type of film I felt that I couldn't really predict how it would go down; I mean yes, I knew he was going to be trapped for most of the film, and that eventually he was going to remove his own arm (it's a true story after all), but just how I didn't know. Which is a good thing, I hate seeing movies where I know exactly what going to happen and how (lemme guess... Autobots win?) and Boyle does a great job of keeping the audiences attention, whether it be with interesting presentation or the sometimes weird an unneeded dream sequences; like the Scooby-Doo part was amusing but like... really? Did we need that?
The scene everyone's talking about though is when Aaron amputates his own arm. Like everyone else, I knew the scene was coming, but I had no idea what to expect. I've watched enough horror films to see somebody's arm get ripped off and not think much of it (okay, I'll cringe a little). But the presentation and realism really set this apart from other gore I've seen in films because you've been with this guy the whole film, with the feeling that you're trapped with him, and suddenly he makes this heroic decision to finally get out, and inside you're cheering for him ... And then he snaps his own bones and gnawes away at his nerves and tendons and it's just ... too much to bare. I'm not regularly squeemish, but just thinking of the scene as I write this still gives me chills. But I think that's the point, that outside of you're theater setting and popcorn, you are in Aron's shoes at that moment, and it really is testament to how good this film is.
If I had to compare this to the other 'really good film with a surprisingly young leading man who is usually in mellow dramas or comedies' film, The Social Network, I'd have to rate 127 Hours just a bit higher. Jesse Eisenberg did a great job acting in that film, but I've actually seen him act before so it was just a fitting role for him. But Franco, I've never seen him do serious well, and I didn't think much of him when I saw him in person, but he surprised me here. His usual comedic charm is there, but when he has to put on his serious face in times of desperation and struggle he does it, and he does it damn well. 127 Hours isn't a film I can suggest to everyone, for obvious reasons, but if you're not squeamish, definitely check this one out.
Overall Score: 9.2/10
Fun fact: just two years ago when Slumdog Millionaire released, Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler came out, and I enjoyed it so much I gave it a VFH Seal of Approval; and completely forgot to review Slumdog. Now, two years later, I've reviewed Boyle's 127 Hours, and Aronofsky has Black Swan releasing (which I also plan to see). Let's hope I don't forget to review that one this time...