Over the years, I've deluded myself into thinking that I am a, as Mattie Ross would say, man of grit. I'd like to think that I would go to great lengths to preserve my well being, and even further lengths to preserve the well being of those I hold dear. But who am I kidding. I'm a pussy, and would no doubt fold at signs of trouble. Which makes the envy the living hell out of Aron Ralston, quite possibly the most EXTREMEly badass person to ever live. His story generated a lot of attention, and has now been immortalized, quite spectacularly, by Danny Boyle in 127 Hours. Boyle's follow up to his Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire is even better than that film, wildly inventive, full of heart and spirit, with a tour de force performance from James Franco. Getting pinned by unmovable rocks sucks... at least I think it does... but the movie about that is pretty friggin' EXTREME!
On a sunny day in 2003, Aron Ralston sets out into canyonland, USA, for an EXTREME weekend day of getting lost in nature. Outside of a chance encounter with a pair of female hikers, Aron is completely alone, and that's just the way he likes it. So much so, that he didn't even tell anyone where he was going. It's alright though, since Aron is a champ at all this hiking, climbing, and canyoneering. But, even the greatest pro runs into a snag every now and then. Unfortunately, Aron's snag is just a tad worse than a leg cramp or nasty sunburn. Well into his journey, and with no one anywhere near him, a falling rock pins Aron's arm to the rock wall. Try as he might, he can't get it loose. As the hours tick by, Aron reflects on his past life, and readies himself for the end. But, giving up is not in the books for the good Ralston, who goes to incredible lengths to survive.
Y'all know the story, so I guess any sense of surprise is thrown out the window from the second you sit down. That being said, it's a surprisingly amazing work of story telling. For the most part, the entire movie is set in one little crack in the earth, with only one guy populating said crack. But, despite that stagnant description, the story of 127 Hours is gripping and moving. Boyle and screenwriting buddy Simon Beaufoy do a bang up job adapting Ralston's memoir to the screen. It's an EXTREMEly good job! That Oscar nom was well deserved.
There's only one person worth talking about, since there's only one person in the movie. James Franco was gradually breaking out of his self righteous, man douche, military loving roles with decent comedic roles (Pineapple Express) and strong dramatic stuff (Milk). He's on a-whole-nother level with 127 Hours. As Aron, he's charismatic, compelling, and downright EXTREME!!! One man shows are always tricky, especially in the filmic medium, but Franco knocks it out of the park!
Other people who show up for a grand total of 20 minutes include Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn as two friends whom Aron shows the sights, and Clemence Posey as his former girlfriend. They aren't there for long enough to make an impression, but they still do a good job with the stuff they have.
It's a one man show, and the one man is spectacular. His supporting players, if you can call them that, perform well enough, but it's Franco's show. Colin Firth all but has the Oscar, but if anyone is going to challenge him, it's Franco. He's that EXTREME!!!
|EXTREME TO EXTREMELY EXTREME LEVELS OF EXTREME!!!|
I've said it before; I'll say it again! Danny Boyle is the most versatile director ever. Where most directors fall into a routine, directing the same kind of things in the same genre over and over again. Not Boyle. He's too EXTREME for that. He's done drug fueled freakfests, the zombie apocalypse, mind bending sci-fi, and Bollywood. Here's he's handled the "nature as an antagonist" genre, and does a fantastic job with it. Rather than just shoot the film traditionally, with standard shots, Boyle utilizes his unique aesthetic touch to make this one of the most engrossing movies of 2010. 127 Hours is a wildly inventive and excessively frenetic film movie, with some seriously EXTREME sequences. Splitting shots so that multiple show up in the same frame is utilized to a great effect, turning the movie from a boring tale of staying still, to a trippy tale of survival. His use of color is EXTREME, using all the brilliant hues of orange, yellow, brown, and blue that make up canyonland, USA.
And then, there's the scene. Y'all know what I'm talking about. That point in the end of the movie where the shit gets real and Aron shows off just how EXTREME he can be! It's about as realistic as it could be. All those people who reportedly fainted when they saw it? I was almost one of them. Like, seriously! It's stomach churning! Like, Boyle could have just made it of Aron hacking away, with plenty of fake blood, but oh no. He's too EXTREME for that! So, instead, he shows Aron breaking his bones, tearing into his flesh, pulling out arteries, and ripping out his nerve. The scene makes your skin crawl, thanks to some nifty sound work and Franco's ridiculously realistic portrayal of pain. You will curl up in a ball and hold your arm, reassuring yourself that you will never have to go through something like that.
127 Hours is a great movie. If you ask me, Slumdog Millionaire wasn't that big of an act to follow, despite the fact that it's still a good movie. Boyle tops it and then some. His kinetic and stylish directing style is in full force, his aesthetic touch has never been better. With a spectacular performance from James Franco, Boyle further solidifies his place as one of the modern greats. All kidding aside though, 127 Hours is a wonderfully moving tale about realizing the important things in life, and the human drive to survive at all costs. Aron Ralston is an EXTREME man! Only a director as EXTREME as Boyle could have told his story. They were made for each other.
EXTREME Count: 22
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