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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
James Franco
Amber Tamblyn
Kate Mara
Treat Williams.
Directors
Danny Boyle.
Screenwriters
Danny Boyle
Simon Beaufoy.
Running Time
94 minutes

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127 Hours
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Plot
While hiking in the mountains of Utah, professional adventurer Aron Ralston (Franco) falls into a crevice, where his right arm is crushed and trapped by a boulder. Faced with impending death, Ralston slowly realises he needs to make some difficult choices...


Review
127 Hours
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Aron Ralston reputedly charges $37,000 for personal appearances as a motivational speaker outside the US, but after seeing 127 Hours, you may wonder what he could possibly have to tell you that a ten-year-old couldn’t. Don’t go out to remote areas without telling your mother where you’re going? Don’t stray too far from the path? Don’t show off? On the surface, 127 Hours shouldn’t really work, because its tensions are so counter-intuitive. This is not one of those survival stories that could happen to any of us: it’s a very particular story that could only happen to a certain type of individual. Some would call him an adventurer, others a maverick. But many more would have a rather less reverent opinion. They’d say Aron Ralston was an arse.

The wonderful thing about 127 Hours, though, is that it doesn’t shy from this fact. It’s not a film about superheroism, necessarily, because this is about a man who uses the same skill sets to get him out of his jam that got him into it. It’s not even about those hidden reserves of power we supposedly have when faced with a crisis, because most of us wouldn’t have the resolve to do what Ralston did, no matter how desperate. And it’s not an issue movie; there is nothing and nobody else to blame — Ralston literally fell victim to his own ego. No, 127 Hours is a film about optimism, about how one man, arguably not a very smart man, took charge of his destiny and turned things right around.

This vibrancy is there right from the start. We’ve known that Danny Boyle can work wonders with dark subject-matters: in Slumdog Millionaire families endure unimaginable poverty, women are forced into prostitution and child beggars have their eyes gouged out by evil Fagins — even if it was described by the News Of The World as “the feel-good film of the decade”. But 127 Hours takes it to a whole new level, kicking off with a split-screen credit sequence that plays like a hyperactive Coke Zero ad, transposing solo images of James Franco-as-Ralston against vivid crowd scenes, not so much showing him as a loner but as a micro-unit in the teeming metropolis of life.

This sense of scale is important, since Boyle’s film does have a certain spiritual element to it. In a way, the story is practically a Biblical parable, since it involves many of the elements you might find in the scriptures: hubris, repentance and deliverance. It doesn’t get much clearer than the moment when, in the Utah dark, Ralston sees a cycling team in his rear-view mirror and exchanges a glance with their leader, who seems to be sending him the same psychic message we are: you’re going the wrong way... Because we know more than anyone that no good can come of this, and even if you don’t quite know what destiny has in store for Ralston — good luck with avoiding spoilers — there’s something about his sheer confidence, his jaunty manner, that surely must be tested.

Boyle has fun with this part of the story, playing on our expectations in the build-up to the big plunge. There’s no preamble as such, just a good 15 to 20 minutes or so of Ralston in the wild, enjoying the scenery, meeting some girls, showing them the sights. And when he falls, it’s almost an anticlimax. Is this it? Ralston doesn’t even seem to notice himself at first, and even when he does, there are no histrionics. And if there’s a problem with the film, it’s perhaps this. As the days unfold, the timing becomes a little abstract and what starts as a dramatic countdown disintegrates into markers. Indeed, the title might be a touch misleading to those expecting a race-against-time thriller in the standard sense, because, in isolation, time begins to mean nothing to our trapped protagonist.

And, as Ralston, Franco does his best to convey this. At times it feels as though he’s channelling American Pie’s Stifler with his goofy grin and astonishing insistence on seeing the glass half-full. This is the kind of guy to whom shit happens when he parties naked, who takes several days to figure that, y’know, he might, like, die out there, and Franco handles that slow, awful dawning with poignant subtlety. Using his camera as a confessional, Ralston plays the fool, then the stiff-upper-lip hero, and as the battery powers down, he starts to examine his life. Time is really running out by now; Ralston is drinking his own piss, drifting in and out of a starved delirium, fully aware he’s at the mercy of the fickle elements. And his epiphany — whose fault is this? — is the film’s turning point. This is its Damascene Conversion, and Boyle places it perfectly in the movie to lead us into the final, gruelling, not-for-viewers-of-a-nervous-disposition reel.

What Ralston does to get free is a thing of gruesome, nauseating wonder, but Boyle doesn’t linger on the horror. Instead, he portrays it for what it is: a painful liberation. And this is the film’s most magnificent achievement; though it appears to be about all sorts of grim nonsense, the actual message is not simply one of hope, but one delivered with a zen-like calm, a soothing voice that whispers, “This too shall pass,” in Boyle’s lovely Lancashire burr. Ralston may be a tit, but Boyle’s film isn’t making a deal of this. Quite the opposite: Aron Ralston is simply a guy who turned his life around, just as we can and should in any hemmed-in circumstance of our own making. It’s a simple but rather lovely point, and thanks to Boyle, you won’t have to pay $37k for the privilege of hearing it.


Verdict
A surprisingly fun, effervescent against-the-odds drama that offers an upbeat moral without the usual punishing survival-story clichés. Not for the faint-hearted, mind.


Reviewed by Damon Wise


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for 127 Hours
Empire Star Rating

was extremely close the throwing up watching him cut his nerve! mind bobbling ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jackcarlin18 at 23:21, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post


127 Hours Review

As gut-wrenching as it is inspirational, 127 Hours unites one of Danny Boyle's most beautifully exuberant directorial efforts with a terrific performance from James Franco. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 23:36, 22 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 127 Hours

Was decent.I thought Franco did a good job with a rather limited story(yes i know it's true!). It was quite a feat to keep the audience interested for so long with presumably most knowing the story and the setting being so obviously confined. ... More

Posted by thetruth at 19:21, 17 September 2011 | Report This Post


RE: 127 Hours

L: Hood_Man I really enjoyed this. Absolutely gorgeous to look at (both cinematography and cast if I'm honest), and when it came to freeing himself I totally believed his character would have done what he did. Not a question of "Oh it's a true story, I knew he was going to anyway," but the way Danny Boyle built up to it and the growing desperation... it totally worked for me. greed. I also found myself really rooting for him to free himself in his attempts throughout, despite know... More

Posted by Super Hans at 18:31, 17 September 2011 | Report This Post


RE: 127 Hours

I really enjoyed this. Absolutely gorgeous to look at (both cinematography and cast if I'm honest), and when it came to freeing himself I totally believed his character would have done what he did. Not a question of "Oh it's a true story, I knew he was going to anyway," but the way Danny Boyle built up to it and the growing desperation... it totally worked for me. ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 18:20, 17 September 2011 | Report This Post


RE: 127 Hours

We watched this last night - very good film.  Very tense, gripping and an effective insight to what it must be like to be trapped in that scenario.  I've only ever seen James Franco in the Spider-Man films so his performance in 127 Hours was quite a revelation to me.  I liked the fact that as gut-wrenching as the pivotal scene is, I shared what must have been some intense relief once he finally managed to get free. Wtith this Lovefilm choice, my wife has more than redeemed h... More

Posted by Super Hans at 10:55, 17 September 2011 | Report This Post


Extraordinary film

Based on the true story of Aron Ralston's canyoneering excursion in Utah, gone horribly wrong. The headstrong, foolish Ralston falls and is trapped underneath a boulder for 127 hours, where he must use all his survival techniques and meditates on his mistakes. Franco's performance is magnificent and Boyle's direction is both involving and imaginative. A stirring, life-affirming film that can watch again and again, regardless of some harrowing scenes. And to those who say it's predictable: IT'S A... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jomo999 at 00:58, 28 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Real Review

saw this a few weeks back surprisingly good 4/5 from me ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hampstead bandit at 19:46, 01 May 2011 | Report This Post


Real Review

This is an absolote brilliant film, Danny Boyle has created a mastapice of a film and James Franco was absolotely brilliant. I woul also recomend the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 10:56, 01 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Predictable

Im sorry to say this but are you retarded, reason being that obviously the plot is predictable since his arm got stuck in a rock at the beggining of the film, but that does'nt mean the film is shit, couldn't you have just admired the film for its briliance. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 10:50, 01 May 2011 | Report This Post


UNFORGETTABLE MASTERPIECE.

Danny Boyle previously known for his exploits in 28 days later and slumdog millionare has made a masterpiece 127 hours which is an improvement on both 28 days later and slumdog, 127 hours in lesser hands could have been a disaster but still this film is brilliant, it is superb, Danny you are awesome. Franco pulls off the impossible a flawless performance, that got him an oscar nomination, Colin Firth was obviously going too win best actor and don't hate me for saying this, but I thought Franco... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewisb548 at 17:44, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1542344/]127 Hoursn forehand I was sceptic about this and wasn`t sure if I wanted to see it. Luckily that turned out to be unnecessary. Danny Boyle`s newest work exceed`s all my expectations. Together with and thanks to a great James Franco, who finally proves he can carry a film by him self, Boyle delivers a breathtaking and literally oppressive film. Th� strong point of the film is the editing: the way the images and the sound design are made together into one... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 22:37, 24 February 2011 | Report This Post


It rocks

I didn�t know whether to cry for him, try and help him, not believe him or just not watch him at all. In the end, I just got stuck with him and then released by him. I hoped 127 hours would be good, it�s Danny Boyle, expectations are high, but I couldn�t even guess he�d make it in the extraordinary way he did. 127 Hours is a story of extreme-sports enthusiast, Aron Ralston (James Franco) who one day goes out for a bit of an adventure in Blue John Canyon. The film ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by oneangryman at 18:53, 21 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Slick

I really enjoyed the film and considering the plot was pretty well known if like me you're interested in news of this ilke and we knew the outcome. I really hated the character in the first about 50 mins thought what a dumb nub for A. not telling anyone where he was going and B.for his arrogance and his attitude that he was invinsible. As for the last 30 mins I was willing him to live and really felt for him and from what I've read it's made a better man of him. Just goes to say that old ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Magenta at 14:35, 20 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Predictable

Hi again evilbill. Well, what can I say? I had never heard of the guy! I thought that Franco was also previously good in the Spiderman films and that aftershave ad he was in. Enjoyment of this film or movies in general depends on your outlook I suppose. I'm not the kind of person who likes to know too much about what a film is going to be like before seeing it. This movie is clearly about transmitting the rawness of the whole experience to the viewer. My main gripe is that that asid... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Francis46 at 13:14, 20 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Predictable

Well first off if you don't already know what happened,you must have been living in a cave for a very long time,or trapped down a canyon.Now the film's star James Franco will be one of the greats in the near future,and may be the outsider to win Best Actor Oscar??.In this he delivers all the emotion you can handle,and is outstanding in many way's,but  i know human brutality or error leading towards a need to survive story that make it to the big screen are usually the ones that capt... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by evil bill at 19:47, 16 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Predictable

Well, I went to see the film on the basis that it was a Danny Boyle film. Other than that, I knew nothing about it beforehand. I hadn't seen any trailers, didn't know anything about the plot and didn't know that it was based on a true story. If I had known then I probably wouldn't have bothered watching it! Although it wasn't my cup of tea, the film does have some good music in it though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Francis46 at 22:13, 13 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: 127 Hours

Just seen 127 Hours. Wow. At 90mins it is short and sweet. Firstly Franco is excellent as Aron. It is only 15 os so minutes in that he gets stuck and the rest seems like a heartbeat. A few scenes that stuck out for me were the small bit where he thought of his Gatorade in the car and the subsequent visions of old pop ads; and the rescue scene which pretty much made me tear up with emotion. It's hard to recommend to people as it is a tough film, but definitely see it. Loved it. ... More

Posted by slickrick at 10:02, 13 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Predictable

L: Francis46 I think that there is a strong element of "The Emperor's New Clothes" about Empire's review. In my opinion, this movie was desperately predictable and rather dull! Man falls down hole. Man gets stuck down hole because of rock trapping arm. Man works out that to get out of hole he needs to move rock or die of thirst, exposure, ant bites... All a bit dull really. 'm not entirely sure how much variety you were expecting. Bearing in mind supposedly the film is near enough a ... More

Posted by themightyhutch at 23:17, 11 February 2011 | Report This Post


fantastic

best film of the year, franco is marvellous and Boyle keeps a premise that could have been very dull constantly entertaining and thrilling. There's more excitement in this film anbout a man trapped under a boulder for 90 minutes than there is in most action movies. The ending is a joyful tear-jerker. Unless you're turned off by the whole blunt penknife scenario (it's graphic, but no more than it should be), don't miss this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jomo999 at 21:25, 10 February 2011 | Report This Post


Predictable

I think that there is a strong element of "The Emperor's New Clothes" about Empire's review. In my opinion, this movie was desperately predictable and rather dull! Man falls down hole. Man gets stuck down hole because of rock trapping arm. Man works out that to get out of hole he needs to move rock or die of thirst, exposure, ant bites... All a bit dull really. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Francis46 at 22:40, 08 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing

I enjoyed the movie, but it got to a point where I was like 'just cut the god damn arm off'. If it was me, I would have probably cut it off the second day, because I wouldn't want to miss the Apprentice or whatever was on. ... More

Posted by thepluginbaby at 00:23, 08 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: 127 Hours

James Franco has played very well in it.worth watching. ... More

Posted by undisputed3 at 11:10, 02 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing

Very good film with an excellent performance from Franco and an awesome soundtrack. Didn't expect to like it as much as I did, even during the film I had my doubts, but the ending did for me really well done ... More

Posted by musht at 21:41, 30 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing

If Franco or Firth do not win best actor there is something wrong with the world. It was an amazing film and I feel full sympathy for the real aron. One of the best films I have seen and I would give it a 5/5 stars. I watched it for a second time today (1st with friends, 2nd with family) and is it weird that I feel worse after watching the 'scene' for a 2nd time. The 1st time I saw it I got hot and sweaty and grossed out but I felt fine. This time my stomach turned and i felt a bit sick yet I k... More

Posted by TinyButDeadly at 21:35, 29 January 2011 | Report This Post


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