127 Hours is the latest Academy Award nominated film from Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) and stars James Franco in the leading role as Aron Ralston, an intrepid young hiker determined to conquer the wilderness on his own until he is trapped in a ravine miles away from any help or assistance. Based on the remarkable true story of a hiker in 2003 that had to amputate his own arm to free himself from his rocky prison, 127 Hours is a gripping emotional drama about the depths of human survival.
Aron Ralston (Franco) is a cocky young hiker that is determined to conquer Utah's Canyonland National Park solo. He prepares for his trip by packing all the necessary gear and survival equipment, but he neglects one important thing. Through all of his preparation, he never once told anyone, not even his own mother, where he was going on his excursion.
Ralston doesn't seem too affected by this revelation and continues on his trail, shaving hours off his best time covering these same Utah mountains. A few hours into his hike, Ralston comes across some wayward female hikers who are slightly turned around looking for a natural cave. Ralston, being the expert hiker, offers to show them a shortcut to get to their destination, a beautiful natural pool inside of the cave.
The three eventually part ways, Ralston continuing on his record attempt, and the girls offering him an invite to a party the next day. With a renewed vigor, Ralston continues to hike and document his trek through his digital camera. That is when the unthinkable happened. A large boulder slipped loose and pinned Ralston's right arm. Alone and trapped in a narrow ravine, Ralston has to endure the next five days in total isolation as he comes to grips with what he has to do to ensure his survival.
Danny Boyle has created a wonderfully open film within the tight confines of working in a small canyon. The camera never feels stagnant, freely navigating through the crevices and cracks while Franco gives a fierce performance documenting himself stuck under the boulder. During a particular state of delirium, Franco offers a brilliant scene where Ralston (Franco) is hosting his own talk show and he is his own guest. The fevered pace and creative mind-scape give a film that is largely about one man in a single location, much more variety than once thought. 127 Hours is intensely watchable and nervously entertaining even through the bloody, inevitable escape.
On the Blu-ray edition of 127 Hours, the beautiful scenery and gorgeous cinematography of the eastern Utah mountain range explode with crystal clarity in full high definition. The soundtrack and score are wonderfully mixed in HD audio and accentuate the tragic moments of the film perfectly.
The feature list for 127 Hours is packed with Director and Producer audio commentary, numerous deleted scenes including a much lengthier and ultimately less satisfying alternate ending, and a few behind-the-scenes features. The features chronicle Aron Ralston himself as he recounts his horrifying ordeal and how he has continued to pursue his passion for climbing afterward and an extensive look at how the film was made. All of the features are fascinating to watch and the mini-documentary about Ralston is awe-inspiring.
127 Hours earns its place at the top of Danny Boyle's best films and the fantastic performance by Franco puts the young lead actor in a whole other class. His Best Actor nomination is well deserved and 127 Hours simply mesmerizes from start to finish. I, myself, was never a big Boyle fan, but after viewing 127 Hours three times now, I can say with great certainty that 127 Hours is one of my personal favorite films from 2010. Truly remarkable.