Tuesday, January 24, 2012

127 Hours Review

Imagine being trapped in the middle of nowhere without a single solitary soul to call for aid. No one knows were you are and all you have for nourishment are a few protein bars and a modest size canteen of water. It is dark, lonely, and desolate. You try to stay calm, to tell yourself everything will be alright. That this is not how it is supposed to end. But the seeds of fear have taken root in your heart and you cannot escape the hideous notion that any hope is a lie and these are in fact your final moments on earth before the darkness falls.
Such is the dire predicament faced by the main character in 127 Hours. Directed by Danny Boyle, 127 Hours is based on the real life story of Aaron Ralston, a climber and canyoneer who nearly lost his life after what began as a fun weekened excursion exploring a nebulous sytem of canyons in Utah turned in to a deadly struggle for survival when a climbing miscalculation leads to an errant boulder pinning his arm to a rock wall, leaving the young outdoorsman literally caught between a rock and a hard place.
I really liked this movie a lot. James Franco does an excellent job portraying Ralston's exuberance and what I can probably only describe as a charmingly maniacal zeal for conquering the rigors of the wild. His casual fearlessness is put into harsh persective later in the film when the seriousness of his predicament forces him to come to grips with the extent that being driven by his passions has caused him to neglect the important people in his life.
The filmaker's uncanny use of hallucinatory imagery to illustrate Aaron's struggle to overcome the madness that threatens to claim him as time drags on and he grows more and more desperate is striking and gives the movie a dreamlike, surrealist vibe. The tone is accentuated by Ralston's philisophical ruminations that the boulder had been waiting for him his whole life, ever since it was a burning meteorite flying in orbit millions of years ago. It is really great stuff.
It is a testament to the sheer ability of the talent involved in how they suceeded in crafting a suspensful and engrossing experience out of a story that basically just consists of a man trying to free himself from a boulder. What's more, the vibrant and kinetic way in which the movie is constructed, from the camera angles, to the editing, to the music is truly innovative and unique.
I really don't want to spoil the end, but if you heared it on the news when it happened in 2003, or watched the Dateline episode devoted Ralston's story, I am sure you are familiar with the extreme sacrifice he ultimately made to free himself. Rest assured it is definately not for the faint of heart or those who swoon at the sight of a little blood.
This is a wonderfully compelling story and has all the components of a great movie. Drama, action, suspense, capped off by ultimate triumph in the face of adversity.


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