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127 Hours DVD Review

127 Hours (2010) movie poster 127 Hours

Theatrical Release: November 5, 2010 / Running Time: 94 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Danny Boyle / Writers: Aron Ralston (book Between a Rock and a Hard Place); Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy (screenplay) / Songs List

Cast: James Franco (Aron Ralston), Amber Tamblyn (Megan), Kate Mara (Kristi), Clémence Poésy (Rana), Kate Burton (Aron's Mom), Lizzy Caplan (Sonja), Treat Williams (Aron's Dad), P.J. Hull (Boy on Sofa), Fenton G. Quinn (Blue John), John Lawrence (Brion), Koleman Stinger (Aron - Age 5), Bailee Michelle Johnson (Sonja - Age 10), Parker Hadley (Aron - Age 15), Pieter Jan Brugge (Eric Meijer), Rebecca Olson (Monique Meijer), Norman Lehnert (Dan)
127 Hours is one of DVDizzy.com's Top 100 Movies of the Half-Decade (2010-2014).127 Hours ranks 14th in our list of the Top 100 Movies of the Half-Decade (2010-2014).

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It took director Danny Boyle eight theatrically released features to get a film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, but now he's gotten two of those in just two tries. If this year's Best Director category was any indication, 127 Hours had no chance to win the Oscars' top prize, but it still competed in the field of ten,
no small achievement in an industry that sends hundreds of movies to theaters annually.

127 Hours is Boyle's follow-up to Slumdog Millionaire and like that deserving 2008 Best Picture winner, this drama takes Boyle away from his native England, albeit to a place less exotic and far less populous than Mumbai: Utah. 127 Hours tells the remarkable true story of Aron Ralston (played by Best Actor nominee James Franco), a 27-year-old thrill-seeker whose Saturday adventures in Canyonlands National Park left him trapped alone in a cave with his arm stuck under an immovable boulder.

The title, as you would guess, is how long Ralston spent fighting for his life and although that time is condensed for us to a reasonable 94 minutes with credits, viewers still come away understanding that harrowing struggle and empathizing with the man who endured it in April of 2003.

A chance encounter with two lost young women (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) will be the last human contact Aron Ralston (James Franco) experiences for many hours. Sixteen minutes into the film, solo canyoneer Aron Ralston (James Franco) finds himself stuck between a rock and hard place.

The film opens with Ralston loading his backpack and driving out to his "second home", where he spends Friday night sleeping in his car. He encounters a couple of young women (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) and offers his expertise to help them find what they're looking for and then experience it in the most exciting way. Their fun plunges of faith into an underground pool end up being Aron's last brush with humanity for the foreseeable future when, after parting ways, he and a large falling rock become intertwined and inseparable.

Deep down in Blue John Canyon, Aron's screams for help go unheard. Though no stranger to climbing mountains by himself, he is especially unprepared for the predicament he faces, his location unbeknownst to the rest of the world, his sustenance limited to a chicken burrito and bottle with 500 ml of water, and his supplies consisting of some scaling rope, a camcorder, and a dull multi-tool. He tries using the multi-tool's knife to chip away at the edge of the rock, but realizes that this isn't going to be enough to save him. Rationing his water, he waits and hopes, occasionally yelling up to the emptiness above and documenting his experience on the camera.

That sounds like a gut-wrenching ordeal, especially if you know the huge sacrifice involved (and there has been no way of avoiding that information in Oscar season jokes and discussions), and it is indeed challenging to live it even vicariously from the comfort of your couch. But it is also a tremendous journey, one that reminds us of the value of life and all the aspects of it we take for granted everyday.

Clinging to his sanity and some form of communication, Aron (James Franco) documents his experiences on his camcorder from time to time. Not about to abandon his visual flair, director Danny Boyle takes us out of the narrow canyon in two of the three strips of this colorful triptych splitscreen.

While the storyline may seem constricting, Boyle is too talented a filmmaker for that to be so. We wander with Aron's mind and wade into his subconscious, as he thinks of his family members, a girlfriend (Harry Potter's Clémence Poésy), and even the party thrown by those new female acquaintances he planned to attend. A mood increasingly somber and hopeless would seem fair based on the situation, but Boyle's film runs an emotional gamut, in turns remorseful, pensive, optimistic, and even humorous.
The Films of Danny Boyle:
Ralston's story could easily become a movie of the week (as if such a thing exists these days), but Boyle avoids sap and overdramatization, instead relying on details too specific to invent.

To those who only know James Franco from his much-maligned lifeless hosting of last week's Oscar ceremony or his Pineapple Express stoner recalled by it, in this movie you'll discover James Franco the serious actor, not dabbling in daytime TV and calling it performance art, but giving his all to embodying a reckless real person pushed to the limit and determined to escape. It is the performance of a lifetime, carrying the film, uh, single-handedly like very few actors have ever done. Of course, as perfect as Franco is for the part, he owes much to Boyle, not only for casting him but for crafting the film in such a soulful and understated yet lively and uplifting way.

Despite overwhelmingly favorable reviews and an impressive six Academy Award nominations, this got a much cooler reception from audiences than Boyle's preceding surprise hit crowdpleaser. In fact, out of all of this year's major Oscar contenders, 127 Hours was among the least-attended, second only to the indie drama Winter's Bone. That is somewhat understandable because 127 Hours remained in fewer than 1,000 theaters and because if you only knew one thing about the movie it was that you might not have the stomach for what transcends in it.

If it was the prospect of seeing Aron Ralston's dilemma projected larger than life on a theater screen that turned you away, you've got no reason to miss out on the movie now, because Fox brought it to DVD and Blu-ray last week, just two days after it came away from the Oscars empty-handed.

127 Hours DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.98 (Reduced from $29.98)
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc + Digital Copy ($39.99 SRP)
and on Instant Video


As they always do for Danny Boyle, the visuals add much to this film. Whether it is in the eerie intimacy of Aron's analog consumer video or the larger than life exuberance of the boundless photography of the mountainous Utah desert, the 1.85:1 widescreen transfer packs a punch. The DVD's presentation is not lacking in any way, allowing both picture and sound to dazzle the senses. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is always in tune with the visuals, pleasing with cavernous echoes, A.R. Rahman's dynamic score, and the unexpectedly well-placed song.

A nicely-dressed Aron Ralston (James Franco) catches up with the girl on his mind in this scene from the long alternate/extended ending. Aron's early adventures and Canyonlands National Park scenery share the screen in the DVD's main menu montage.


The DVD has just one type of video extra: a group of deleted scenes (34:10). There is another scene with the girls and some of Aron's video diaries are extended, but the item accounting for 22 minutes of this section is an "alternate ending." Obviously, there is no different outcome or anything; the entire conclusion is, however, considerably extended. And weakened. It's nice to get hear from supporting players who barely open their mouths in the film itself (namely Treat Williams, Kate Burton, and Lizzy Caplan playing Aron's three family members)
and see otherwise absent bits, but this longer edit doesn't have anywhere near the impact of the movie's taut finale. I think with this end in place, 127 Hours doesn't get a Best Picture nomination. That makes this an unusually interesting inclusion and testifies to Danny Boyle's sound judgment.

The other bonus feature is a solid audio commentary by Danny Boyle, co-screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, and producer Christian Colson. Led by Boyle, the group has good information to share about the real Aron Ralston's experience and about all the filmmaking techniques employed. It's a more worthwhile listen than most tracks.

Kept exclusive to the Blu-ray version are Luke Matheny's short film God of Love, the featurettes "127 Hours: An Extraordinary View" and "Search & Rescue", and a digital copy of the film. It almost goes without saying that some, if not all of the video extras could have fit on the DVD with no additional movie compression.

The DVD opens with an ad for Fox digital copies and trailers for Unstoppable, Conviction, Casino Jack, and Love and Other Drugs. The Sneak Peek menu holds a Never Let Me Go trailer and a promo for FX.

The scored main menu divides the screen into various pieces of thrill-seeking. All the other menus are static and silent.

Aron Ralston (James Franco) looks and shouts up for help, to no avail, in Danny Boyle's Academy Award-nominated true-life survival drama "127 Hours."


127 Hours will make you wince in places and bring you to the verge of tears in others. It is an exhausting experience by which it is impossible not to be moved. You might have to press pause or look away, but nonetheless I highly recommend seeing this. Danny Boyle and James Franco have made a great film, celebrating the human spirit in the bleakest of situations with as much flair and intensity as cinema allows.

Delivering a terrific feature presentation, a revealing collection of deleted scenes (including a miscalculated extended ending), and an engaging commentary, the DVD is quite satisfactory. Do check it out.

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127 Hours Songs List: Free Blood - "Never Hear Surf Music Again", James Franco - "Sleeping Monkey", "Scooby Doo, Where Are You", Bill Withers - "Lovely Day", "Nocturne No. 2 in E-Flat", Plastic Bertrand - "Ça Plane Pour Moi", Dido & A.R. Rahman - "If I Rise", Esther Phillips - "If You Love Me (Really Love Me)", "Heart and Soul", Sigur Rós - "Festival"

127 Hours: Music from the Motion Picture: Download MP3s from Amazon.comBuy CD from Amazon.com

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Reviewed March 8, 2011.

Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Fox Searchlight Pictures, Pathé!, Everest Expedition, and 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
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