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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Review: 127 Hours (15) ★★★
A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.


Can one actor hold your attention for approx ninety minutes when they are, for the most part, the only character in the film? Its been asked before, think Tom Hanks in Castaway. There you had the considerable talent of a proven Oscar winner in Tom Hanks to keep you hooked, 127 Hours has James Franco. So how'd he do?

Very well is the answer. It's in no small part down to Franco's presence and likeability that keeps you interested in events. Without this I don't think the film could have worked, but as things turn out Franco makes for a surprising lead and eats up the, by this day in age, small run time.

Based on a true story, Franco plays Aron Ralston who, while canyoneering in a remote region of Utah, gets trapped by a boulder for *ahem* 127 hours. The first fifteen minutes or so is so frantic you start to physically feel out of breath just watching things unfold, Franco playing Aron with such energy that it's hard to keep up with him. Then when he gets trapped by the boulder things stop dead. The energy and life drains right out of proceedings and from then on its the beginning of the end.

I think its this sudden shift that lost me, from breathtaking energy to standstill. Franco was the only reason why it didn't lose my attention completely, but it got me thinking "what was I expecting?". I knew it was about someone trapped for most of the film so why did I lose focus when the main plot started to unfold? I can only think that I got so wrapped up in proceedings because of the fantastic setup, the visuals and filming style, once we reverted to standard, one person, one camera shot, I got slightly bored.

The story didn't help me that much either, it was your typical, life lessons learned, family's are precious but you don't know that until something horrible happens and the triumph of human spirit. There was nothing that original after the first fifteen minutes for me, and yes I know its based on a true story, but if The Social Network has taught us anything, the primary purpose of a film over a documentary is to entertain its audience not educate so as such take an artistic licence.

127 Hours is in no way a bad film, and James Franco does deserve his Oscar nod, but for me it didn't sweep me up in the ways it has for other people. I know my thoughts on this film will be in the minority, you only have to take a look at its IMDB score to see this, but I always said I'd review films based on my honest opinion and in this case its exactly what I think.


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