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127 Hours (2010)

November 8, 2010

9/10 Home Surgeries

That will to survive sure is something else.

127 Hours is the story of one Aron Ralston: an engineer with a life-long passion for the great outdoors who heads out on a solo run in the canyons of Utah in 2003 without telling anyone where he was going or when he’d be back. Fate being the cruel bitch that it is, he climbs down a crevasse and accidentally shakes loose a boulder the size of a small planet which falls down with him and completely crushes his right forearm against a rock wall. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, 18 miles away from his car and with no chance of a rescue party coming to find him, Aron goes five days surviving on the bare minimum until he eventually bites the bullet, cuts off his own arm with a dull knife that you could barely cut butter with and hoofs it back to civilization.

And since he’s just that extreme, he’s still climbing and breaking records to this day with a fancy new icepick prosthesis where his arm used to be. Talk about earning your Man Card.

So a number of things came to mind when I first heard about this movie:

1. It’s the new joint by Danny Boyle, so therefore it will probably be awesome. Like, 13 dollars awesome.

2. Not that I even need another reason, but it’s also about Aron Ralston and his flat-out insane story of survival, and that’s a story I am all about.

And, 3. Raltson gets trapped, he’s in there by himself for five days, he cuts off his arm, then he goes home…how is this movie 94 minutes long and how will it avoid being a snoozefest?

And now we backtrack to Danny Boyle, because without him, there’s a distinct chance this baby could have bombed. From the frenetic, seemingly unrelated opening credits to the semi-Indian soundtrack that plays throughout the whole movie, it’s easy to see that Boyle is still lingering in his Slumdog period. And that’s fine, that’s great, that’s why he won the Oscar and that’s the very reason he manages to make this story of a guy and his boulder as wild and intense as anything else he’s put out there. It’s a movie about an adrenaline junkie and it looks like it was filmed by one too. Whether it’s Ralston hauling ass down the side of a mountain on a bike or just him daydreaming about his past, future and present, it’s always moving, it’s always fluid, and even at its craziest, Boyle is always in control and he truly knows a thing or two about how to make a pretty movie.

Now, I haven’t read Ralston’s account of what happened or what was going through his head, but the thing you don’t account for before seeing the movie is what would actually go through your head if you were in a situation like that for 127-FREAKING-HOURS!? You’ve got one-man talk shows, reminiscing on relationships treasured and loves lost, fantasies of escape and borderline wet dreams about the Gatorade sitting your trunk among other things. As a passive observer, you learn a lot about Ralston from what goes on in his head, how he exhausts every last conceivable option to escape and how he bides his time, and what might be the most amazing thing is that it all goes by in a flash. Didn’t check my watch once, doubt anyone else did either. Farthest thing from a snoozefest you’ll see all year.

But as great as Boyle is and always has been for all the said reasons, the bottom line is that this is about Ralston.

Walking out of the theater, I was having a lot of trouble figuring out the right words to describe this man. My gut was leaning towards “awesome” and “badass,” but then my good buddy Fred chimed in and asked me to explain my reasoning for why it was starting to sound like I wanted to marry the guy. I tried to come up with some sort of logic behind all my gushing, but long story short, as “awesome” and “badass” as Ralston might be in a conversation about “real men”, those two words aren’t exactly fitting for the circumstances he was placed in. “Epic” and “unreal” might be more on the right track, because truth be told, if I were in his shoes and my two options were either chiseling through my arm or dying, there is no option. Sitting in front of your computer and wondering if you could cut your own arm off to stay alive is one thing, but I think that if the situation presented itself, you’d get awfully comfortable with the idea of writing lefty.

Then again, I’ll probably never be in his shoes and that’s why his story is so incredible to hear. Getting trapped like that was a one-in-a-gazillion chance, and while I like to think I would do the same thing he did, I can only guess whereas he’s living proof.

And James Franco does a damn good job playing him. Big fan of Franco’s to begin with and he just plays Ralston very naturally. Very full of life, very easy to like and you buy what he’s feeling no matter what kind of emotional state he’s in. Always helps to have a lot of funny, genuine dialogue to work with, but wouldn’t be surprised if he got an Oscar nod for this. Definitely one of the more sought-after roles of 2010.

In the words of Ralston after taking in the gravity of the wildly effed up situation he found himself in, “This is insane.” I was leaning towards giving this an 8 because I don’t know if I could see myself sitting through it a second time, but not since Touching the Void (see that if you haven’t) has mankind been treated to such an unbelievable testament of hope and perseverance through film. Ralston is the kind of guy who would get a high-ten from The Jigsaw Killer, a guy who makes Bear Grylls look like a door-to-door Girl Scout (nothing against all you proud Brownies out there, but you know what I mean), and the fact that he came out of his living nightmare by his own doing is more than enough to bump this trip up to a 9. God, can’t even begin to imagine what kind of mental state you have to psyche yourself into in order to go through with an operation like that.

And, yeah, the amputation is brutal to the point where I still get a shiver whenever I flex my right arm, but as usual, it’s just a movie, feel free to close your eyes. If it were a documentary, I’d probably be hurling in the aisles too, but you’re tough, you can handle it.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2010 12:43 am

    AWWWW HELLL YEEEEEAAAAHHHH!!!! Can’t wait to see this one.

    • November 8, 2010 12:35 pm

      hahaha. first movie i’ve really wanted to see in a month or so, think it’s also the first movie i’ve actually gone to see in a month or so, too. anywho, hope you dig it, it’s pretty awesome.

      • November 8, 2010 3:35 pm

        I just have to find a way to get to a theatre that’s showing it. Remember… I’m practically in rural environment right now…

      • November 8, 2010 3:37 pm

        Move to the city, fool. You owe it to your readers!

      • November 8, 2010 9:23 pm

        I will… once I finish this thing called college. And there is a theatre near Bard, it’s just a pain to get to. No worries, I’ll make the trek when it starts playing there.

      • November 9, 2010 12:34 pm

        Atta boy. Well worth the haul.

  2. November 8, 2010 7:34 am

    When I saw the trailer for this, I just knew I had to see it. A man trapped with his arm pinned, alone and unable to get help? And then to chop of his own arm to escape? This man is DA shizzle, yo. This film looks like it’s gonna rock.

    • November 8, 2010 12:36 pm

      hahaha. what a hardcore dude, right? very much DA shizzle. totally rocks.

  3. November 8, 2010 7:52 am

    aw man. we have to wait til january for this on this side of the Atlantic.
    stupid americans, you are all so alike. always overdressing for the wrong occasions.
    James Franco was in The Wicker Man remake. people seem to forget that. he deserves more flak for that. even though its kind of cool he turns up in it for no apparent reason. while im waiting for this film to open here im going to write stupid sentences that make no sense. Aiden.. don’t use the word ‘joint’ to describe a movie again.

    • November 8, 2010 12:39 pm

      hahaha. first comment in eight months and now i can’t use “joint” anymore. harsh. and while i didn’t know about his regrettable Wicker Man appearance, he can thank Nic Cage for stealing the show on that one. but Franco was awesome in Pineapple Express, awesome in Freaks and Geeks, and I think it’s fucking hilarious that he starred in an American soap opera for a while just because. dude is on point.

      and good luck with those nonsense sentences. will stop by RvR pronto.

  4. November 8, 2010 7:54 am

    I dont know what DA shizzle means.

  5. November 8, 2010 8:39 am

    I only see your rating without reading your review because I don’t want to be spoiled 🙂 Will read it after I watch it.

    That’s a high rate you’ve given…makes me more curious than ever

    • November 8, 2010 12:40 pm

      haha. it’s damn good, a 9 well-earned. hope you like it!

  6. November 8, 2010 11:52 am

    I really admire Ralston for what he went through, inspiring is putting it mildly. But to sit and watch HOW he dealt with the whole ordeal? No, thank you. There are reports of people fainting and vomiting in the screenings of this flick… that certainly could be me.

    • November 8, 2010 12:41 pm

      hahaha. all you gotta do is close your eyes and you’re set. pretty hairy scene, but not worth missing the whole movie over. pretty wild stuff.

  7. November 8, 2010 2:04 pm

    I remember reading the book and going, “how could you possibly put yourself in a mindset to remove a piece of your own body?”

    I’m hoping this hits Reno soon, but it’s looking like after Thanksgiving.

    • November 8, 2010 2:09 pm

      Probably not the best movie to see on a full stomach of turducken goodness, but check it out once the food coma settles. Heard great things about the book and that was one of the first thoughts that came to mind. What’d you think of it?

  8. November 8, 2010 4:36 pm

    Great write-up man, and a clear sign of you digging both the story of what Ralston went through, and the way Boyle chose to tell that story. Like you I never glanced at my watch once, and what’s stranger even though I found “the scene” wickedly intense…I didn’t dare turn away.

    I think when this hits Toronto next weekend I’ll have to go out and watch it again.

    • November 8, 2010 4:39 pm

      Haha. I watched the whole thing too. Had my mouth covered the whole time in disbelief, but holy hell was that scene nuts. Hope it’s as good the second time around. You’re a brave man, Hatter.

      • November 8, 2010 4:43 pm

        I see your hand-covered-mouth and raise you some teeth-gnashing that caused a piece of gum to be damned near permanently embedded into my upper molar.

        Oh and ps – At the end of “the scene”, the TIFF audience burst into a round of applause.

      • November 8, 2010 4:45 pm

        Awesome! I don’t blame ’em either. I don’t see anything beating Franco nonchalantly gathering up his rope and backpack then stopping to take a picture of his dead arm as the most badass scene of the year. What a crazy story, man.

  9. November 9, 2010 11:11 am

    Really looking forward to see this in a few days. Heard so much great things about it as well as people passing out at “the scene” ahah

    • November 9, 2010 12:57 pm

      haha. it’s some crazy stuff alright, but definitely worth getting excited over.

  10. lemon meringue copter permalink
    November 17, 2010 7:48 am

    Two thumbs up! Wait a minute, sorry Ralston, that was insensitive.

    • November 17, 2010 9:21 am

      Haha. I’m sure he gave it a thumb and a claw. You see this yet?

      • lemon meringue copter permalink
        November 17, 2010 9:40 am

        No, I don’t think it’s playing up here and without a babysitter I probably wouldn’t be able to anyway. Most of the movies I see nowadays are on the TV. You going to be around for Thanksgiving?

      • November 17, 2010 9:42 am

        You bet. Bet you’re chomping at the bit to have someone to see Harry Potter with.

  11. Pablo Chiste permalink
    December 16, 2010 12:00 pm

    A really gruesome flick and really does make you appreciate what a badass Ralston is. For my longer review check out

  12. max permalink
    February 13, 2011 7:27 pm

    its a rubbish film. most films are rubbish and the media says they’r good and people just agree. maybe everything you watch in the cinema feels good maybe its just the experience.
    slumdog millionaire was rubbish, this is rubbish, the kings speech is rubbish, the mechanic is rubbish, everything in the cinema is rubbish.
    but the fighter is pretty good well maybe its just christian bale who was excellent and very funny. when he’s not playing a hero like batman he’s excellent abit like johnny depp


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