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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

RE: Amazing

L: Invader_Ace L: megank13 Buried Spoilers. You massive "inconsiderate person". Edited: for abuse.  ompletely agree with whatever sentiments were originally put. Haven't gotten around to seeing Buried yet but I walked headlong into some spoilers without knowing. Fantastic. Anyway I just got back from this and I have to say it was brilliant. Refreshingly short, conveying all the emotion and tension without labouring the point. Franco is brilliant and the film was don... More

Posted by themightyhutch at 19:54, 25 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Extraordinary..

Hhmmmm. I'm gonna throw a spanner in the Danny Boyle appreciation forum. I'm not a fan of this movie. It starts off as a hyper MTV video and slowly descends into utter boredom. I have no sympathy for the character and I detest the idea that you have to show the living human being just to validate that this freak of nature event actually happened. the only redeeming feature of the film is Franco. He's a little hit and miss for me in his performance (great in Milk, awful in Eat Pray Love). It's a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nefruaten at 22:04, 22 January 2011 | Report This Post


Extraordinary..

A visceral, emotionally draining experience..Boyle is a genius. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SonnyDaze at 11:04, 18 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: 127 Hours

Another winner from Danny Boyle ,i really enjoyed it . One only hopes it doesnt get overlooked in the awards stakes ,but one feels it will do which is a shame  as Boyle and Franco deserve some sort of award for this gripping true story   9/10  ... More

Posted by filmburner30 at 09:53, 18 January 2011 | Report This Post


Surprisingly Involving Survival Account

It's good to see James Franco finally in a true leading role, lord knows he deserves it after all his efforts. The production values on this film aren't quite as hoped, with the jittery editing and haphazard cinematography robbing a few scenes of any real credibility, particularly in the final reel. Nevertheless, this is a deeply involving and unusually warm story that paves a way for itself amidst all the generic shit that floods cinemas these days in blood, sweat and tears. And makeshift pulle... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 03:06, 17 January 2011 | Report This Post


QUALITY FROM ALL INVOLVED

EXCELLENT MOVIE, PERECT RUNNING TIME, GREAT DIRECTION BY BOYLE, TOP PERFORMANCE BY FRANCO. TOTALLY INVOLVING! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chrisdagnall at 17:28, 16 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Lovely Daaaaaaaaaaaaay

As most have said, I too agree with the 4 star rating as it felt a little long and for a movie at 94 minutes in length, that's quite an achievement. When talking about it I usually liken it to Buried in the fact that both were about one man for roughly the entire running time, the difference being Buried kept up the pace and 127 Hours didn't. It varied between random hallucinations and survival tactics too much. The saving grace for me was the amputation scene, generally making me almost look a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by crazyben66 at 19:37, 14 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Lovely Daaaaaaaaaaaaay

Just what I was expecting and more. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment, I laughed, I cringed, I was sad, I was happy, I was loving it.   4/5 ... More

Posted by /Clarence\ at 18:54, 14 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Lovely Daaaaaaaaaaaaay

ecially Milk, and in a small but perfectly played role in The Dead Girl. SPOILERS! (Maybe! Can't be too careful!) Loved 127 Hours. Especially how the narrative built up to the main 'event', so that we saw that Aron felt ready and we were prepared too. By that point I was willing him to do what he had to, and the moment was actually turned from something potentially grotesque to something that made me want to punch the air.... Brilliantly done. Should have known, in Boyle's ha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jackmansgirl at 16:58, 14 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The best 127 Hours review...?

Ah okay, sorry. Not totally sure how to do a signature. Here's an attempt. ______________ www.bobversus.com ... More

Posted by bobbyfletch85 at 13:59, 14 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The best 127 Hours review...?

Please keep links to other websites in your signature. Other than that, welcome to the site. ... More

Posted by homersimpson_esq at 02:41, 14 January 2011 | Report This Post


The best 127 Hours review...?

I am a writer and stand-up - and movie lover. Do you like my 127 Hours review/blog? Would love to get paid to do this. Even if it was just in biscuits. A RT on twitter would be sweet. Best Bob Fletcher @bobbyman (twitter)     ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyfletch85 at 02:15, 14 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Lovely Daaaaaaaaaaaaay

Just seen it, and find myself agreeing with Empire's rating. Great soundtrack, excellent performance by James Franco, and a truely emotional finale. Even the wife liked it(despite the 'arm' sequence). Can't wait for Mr Boyle's next! **** ... More

Posted by film man aidy at 23:15, 12 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Lovely Daaaaaaaaaaaaay

L: Your Geeky Friends geekyfriends.blogspot.com/2011/01/127-hours-review.html ] d be easy to write 127 hours off as nothing more than an amazing survival story. Man gets trapped; man does something extraordinary to live. Whilst the real life story of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco) is at heart an unbelievable survival story, director Danny Boyle – who has brought us hits such as Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later and Trainspotting – tells a tale of a man battling himself and his i... More

Posted by Bighousewill at 16:50, 11 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing

L: megank13 Buried Spoilers. You massive "inconsiderate person".   Edited: for abuse.  ... More

Posted by Invader_Ace at 10:57, 11 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Lovely Daaaaaaaaaaaaay

geekyfriends.blogspot.com/2011/01/127-hours-review.html ] d be easy to write 127 hours off as nothing more than an amazing survival story. Man gets trapped; man does something extraordinary to live. Whilst the real life story of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco) is at heart an unbelievable survival story, director Danny Boyle – who has brought us hits such as Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later and Trainspotting – tells a tale of a man battling himself and his inner demons. ign]A... More

Posted by Your Geeky Friends at 00:32, 11 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Lovely Daaaaaaaaaaaaay

Danny Boyle obviously loves challenges, and with 127 Days he set out to make perhaps his most difficult film yet, consisting, for the most part, of a man stuck in a cave, in many ways the total opposite of Slumdog Millionaire For the most part he succeeds-no, this isn't really a crowd pleaser like Slumdog actually quite an uncomfortable film to watch, but totally gripping despite it's restrictive setting.  Of course Boyle being Boyle, he steadfastly refuses to make the story dull, keeps h... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:56, 10 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Great film!

L: Shifty Bench L: BigKovacs Whist he didn't exactly deserve what happened to him he did have it coming. on't those mean the same thing? ood point, I was in a rush. I mean that no one deserves to have to cut thier own arm off but if someones going to do a dangerous activity and take almost no safety precautions something bad's bound to happen. Basically I don't feel sorry for him as he was staggeringly stupid for being a 'pro' and the whole thing was avoidable. ... More

Posted by BigKovacs at 10:37, 09 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Great film!

L: BigKovacs Whist he didn't exactly deserve what happened to him he did have it coming. on't those mean the same thing? ... More

Posted by Shifty Bench at 21:22, 08 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing

Fair enough but was he or she not just saying that in Buried we don't know whether he'll survive or not, as it's a work of fiction, whereas in 127 Hours he/she already knew the outcome? ... More

Posted by horribleives at 18:20, 08 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing

L: horribleives L: dark_exodus L: megank13 Saw this last night, I'd agree with the four star review, it is unlike any other survival stories. I really enjoyed it, it was nice to know that in the end he survives, unlike in Buried, where you think he might but he might not, its all on the edge of your seat, but with this you know that he does cut his arm off and you know that there is a triumphant ending! James Franco did an incredible job, perfectly performed! & once again ... More

Posted by dark_exodus at 01:04, 08 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing

L: dark_exodus L: megank13 Saw this last night, I'd agree with the four star review, it is unlike any other survival stories. I really enjoyed it, it was nice to know that in the end he survives, unlike in Buried, where you think he might but he might not, its all on the edge of your seat, but with this you know that he does cut his arm off and you know that there is a triumphant ending! James Franco did an incredible job, perfectly performed! & once again Danny Boyle has done ... More

Posted by horribleives at 20:33, 07 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Great film!

L: oldstuff I have to say that I think the desk-jocks at Empire are being rather unfair on the poor guy! So he prefers being out in the outstanding natural beauty rather than playing Halo 3 against some geek in China. He did what few of us would dare do and he lived to tell the tale. All the adrenaline-junkies from Sir Ranulph Fiennes to Leo Houlding are a little bit mad but that's why they are setting the standard for greatness whilst the Empire editor gets another frag. See the film,... More

Posted by BigKovacs at 17:23, 07 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing

L: megank13 Saw this last night, I'd agree with the four star review, it is unlike any other survival stories. I really enjoyed it, it was nice to know that in the end he survives, unlike in Buried, where you think he might but he might not, its all on the edge of your seat, but with this you know that he does cut his arm off and you know that there is a triumphant ending! James Franco did an incredible job, perfectly performed! & once again Danny Boyle has done it! :D ou really shou... More

Posted by dark_exodus at 17:07, 07 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Spot on review!

L: nhassell Saw this last night. Agree with the 4 star rating. The hallucinations got a bit much near the end, and I didn't like the way they teased the arm severing twice before it actually happened. Took away from it when it did actually happen (and it was quite the moment, was it not?). ron Ralston attempts to cut his arm off several times during his entrapment so this is accurate. His book "Between A Rock And A Hard Place" is a brilliant read and I'd encourage everyone to read it... More

Posted by theieuan at 12:22, 07 January 2011 | Report This Post


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