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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Danny Boyle
Cast:
James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Sean Bott, Koleman Stinger, Treat Williams, John Lawrence
Writing Credits:
Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy, Aron Ralston (book, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place")

Tagline:
Every Second Counts.

Synopsis:
From Academy Award®-winning director Danny Boyle comes the powerfully uplifting true story of one man’s struggle to survive against mountainous odds. Aron Ralston (James Franco) has a passion for all things outdoors. But when a falling boulder traps him in a remote Utah canyon, a thrill-seeker’s adventure becomes the challenge of a lifetime. Over the next five days, Ralston embarks on a remarkable personal journey in which he relies on the memories of family and friends - as well as his own courage and ingenuity - to turn adversity into triumph!

Box Office:
Budget
$18 million.
Opening Weekend
$264.851 thousand on 4 screens.
Domestic Gross
$17.915 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Portuguese
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/1/2011

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director/Co-writer Danny Boyle, Producer Christian Colson and Co-writer Simon Beaufoy
• Deleted Scenes
• “Search and Rescue” Featurette
• “127 Hours: An Extraordinary View” Featurette
God of Love Short Film
• Previews and Sneak Peek
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


127 Hours [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 7, 2011)

To follow up his Oscar-winning hit Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle opts for a tale based on a true story. 2010’s 127 Hours introduces us to Aron Ralston (James Franco), a free-spirited adventurer who seems to live life on a minute-by-minute basis.

As is his wont, Aron takes off one Saturday to hike in the middle of nowhere. Aron goes by himself and doesn’t bother to tell anyone where he goes. As he trots along, Aron slips and falls into a canyon. There a rock traps his arm and leaves Aron stuck without apparent means of escape.

While Boyle has received the most award consideration over his career, Hours winds up as Franco’s time to shine. To say the least, he’s a dominant figure in the movie, as barely a second passes without his presence on screen.

Which makes sense since Aron rarely connects with others. During the early part of his hike, he enjoys a little watery romp with some 20-something babes, but most others are observed through Aron’s flashbacks and dreams.

This structure leaves the movie’s success or failure firmly on Franco’s shoulders. Sure, Boyle attempts to spice things up with various visual and editing techniques, but without a quality performance from its lead actor, it’d collapse into tedium.

To Franco’s credit, that never happens. I admit I went into Hours with a negative view of the real-life Aron. His tale reminded me too much of the one told in Into the Wild, as it went for another free spirit who pursues his own selfish goals without regard to others.

At least that’s how I went into Hours, but now that I’ve seen it, I can recognize that the two stories are pretty different. The lead in Wild was a smug condescending “rebel” who put himself in harm’s way due to his own moronic notions. Aron is something simpler. Sure, he’s still pretty self-absorbed, but he doesn’t seem as possessed with his own highfalutin notions of how he’s right and everyone else is wrong. He’s a basic thrill-seeker who’s more than a little self-absorbed, but he’s not as inconsiderate and self-obsessed.

Which makes him a much more sympathetic journey, especially since he definitely grows and changes as the movie progresses. In Franco’s hands, the role develops smoothly and effortlessly. The role forces him to run through a slew of emotions, and these all bounce off of Franco without much trouble.

That seems even more impressive when you realize he can’t interact with many people. Much of the movie passes in the form of monologue, as Aron documents his imprisonment to his video camera. The tale takes Aron on an intellectual and emotional journey, and Franco brings us along for the ride. He creates a thoroughly impressive performance that really should’ve nabbed him an Oscar. Actual winner Colin Firth is fine in The King’s Speech, but he doesn’t encounter a role one-tenth as challenging as this one. Franco takes a difficult part and knocks it out of the park.

To his credit, Boyle is mostly willing to let the story speak for itself. Yes, Hours includes a mix of “busy”/flashy visuals, but these don’t overwhelm. While I think Boyle could’ve toned them down a bit, I don’t have significant complaints. The editing, cinematography and effects serve to illustrate Aron’s increasingly “off” state of mind, and they also prevent too much tedium. After all, the film spends most of its running time stuck with one guy in a cave; without some visual pizzazz, that would’ve gotten old fast.

Much furor accompanied the film’s signature scene, the one in which Aron finds a way to free himself. I think too much has been made of its shock value, honestly. Yes, this sequence can be a bit disturbing, but it’s not as graphic as some would let you believe. I think Boyle depicts it in a tasteful way that delivers the appropriate impact.

The same goes for 127 Hours as a whole. The movie takes a potentially stultifying subject and turns it into gripping viewing. The flick marks a nice return to form for Boyle after the overrated Slumdog.


The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

127 Hours appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Despite a mix of challenging stylistic choices, the image looked pretty great.

The movie used a variety of photographic styles, and some of these – such as those that looked like old consumer-grade video – could be rather unattractive. It also was shot in a way that meant occasional “on the fly” focus and some softness. However, most of the movie presented very nice delineation, and it occasionally offered virtually flawless clarity.

I witnessed no signs of jagged edges, shimmering or edge haloes. Digital noise reduction wasn’t a concern, and source flaws remained absent. This was a clear, smooth presentation.

Colors tended to be limited, as the movie usually favored a yellowish, arid palette that fit the canyon setting. Occasional brighter hues emerged as well, but expect a lot of tans, yellows and oranges. The transfer displayed these in a manner as full as they needed to be, so they looked good within the movie’s design. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows showed nice clarity and definition. Overall, the Blu-ray replicated the source in a very satisfying manner.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it didn’t get many chances to shine, but it remained more than acceptable. The soundfield tended to be fairly subdued, which made sense since so much of the movie focused on one guy stuck in a canyon. We got a lot of dialogue and a fair amount of music; the score displayed good activity from the side speakers as well as a bit of boost from the rears.

For the most part, effects didn’t have a ton to do, but the movie occasionally threw out more dynamic sequences. The flash flood opened up the spectrum in a lively manner, and Aron’s hallucinations added good material from the side and rear channels. While the film didn’t boast tons of five-speaker audio, it made the most of what it had.

Sound quality always satisfied. Speech was crisp and distinctive, without edginess or intelligibility concerns. Music showed nice range and delineation, as the score and songs were vivid and full. Effects also gave us clear, accurate information. This was a solid “B” soundtrack.

When we shift to the set’s supplements, we open with an audio commentary from director/co-writer Danny Boyle, producer Christian Colson and co-writer Simon Beaufoy. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, story/script/adaptation topics, cinematography, editing and visual styles, music and stunts, cast and performances, and reflections on the real tale behind the film.

This was the fourth Boyle commentary I’ve heard to date, and it might be the best. All three men offer good data, but Boyle does the heavy lifting, and he displays a lot of energy and spirit here. He helps turn this into a consistently engaging and informative piece that adds to our understanding of the film.

Seven Deleted Scenes run a total of 34 minutes, 13 seconds. These include “That’s Kind of What Soloing Is” (2:04), “Glad You Made It” (0:58), “Four Options” (3:31), “Just Tell Me What To Do” (2:14), “Message to Loved Ones” (1:15), “Shut Your Eyes Mom” (2:07) and “Alternate Ending” (22:04). Most collections of cut clips tend to focus on minor excisions, so it’s great to get a compilation of so many relatively long pieces.

Obviously, the “Alternate Ending” provides easily the most substantial of these. It’s more of an extended ending than an alternate one, though, and the extra time is a mistake. We know Aron’s going to get out of the canyon, so we just want to push him on his way; more shots of him as he struggles to escape don’t add to the film.

We also find disruptive cutaways to TV appearances by those who helped him, and we see Aron in the hospital. Again, these aren’t helpful, and they harm the movie’s emotional impact. As it stands now, the film wraps up quickly and effectively; we know what we need to know, so more of this info just makes us impatient. With this ending, the movie goes on and on, and not in a good way.

As for the other scenes, many tend to be extensions of existing sequences. “Soloing” is totally new, and definitely a good one to cut; it just hits Aron’s “lone wolf” nature a little too on the head. “Options” provides a discussion of how Aron can survive that I find unnecessary; we already have a good grasp on his possibilities. Others tend to be redundant or simply not especially useful. They’re interesting to see but I don’t think they’d add to the story.

Two featurettes follow. Search and Rescue lasts 14 minutes, 51 seconds and provides notes from Aron Ralston, Aron’s former boss Brion After, Aron’s former roommate Elliott Larson, Emery County Sheriff’s Office Captain Kyle Ekker and Sgt. Mitch Vetere, Ranger Steve Young, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Pilot Terry Mercer, Ranger Bill Foreman, and hikers Kristy Moore and Megan McBride. We get details about attempts to find Aron and how he got rescued.

We learn almost none of this in the film – we have no if anyone’s looking for him at all – so it’s fascinating to find out more about what actually happened. It’s also great to meet so many of the real people behind the movie. This is a tight, informative piece.

127 Hours: An Extraordinary View goes for 35 minutes, 30 seconds and includes remarks from Boyle and actor James Franco. The show covers a mix of filmmaking elements and also includes lots of footage from the set. Some of the info becomes redundant after the commentary, but it still has a lot of food material.

Finally, we locate a short film entitled God of Love. It fills 18 minutes, 47 seconds and tells a tale of Raymond, a dude who prays that he could win the affections of a girl in his band. He receives some magical darts that may allow him to gain her love.

Oscar viewers will remember actor/writer/director Luke Matheny as the guy who stated his need for a haircut when he accepted his award. I’m not sure why his movie is on this Blu-ray, as I can’t find a connection between it and Hours, but it’s a cute enough little short. I’m not sure it’s Oscar-worthy, but it’s amusing and reasonably charming.

The disc opens with ads for Conviction, Unstoppable, Never Let Me Go and Love and Other Drugs. Under Sneak Peek, we find an ad for the FX Network. No trailer for Hours shows up here.

A second disc offers a digital copy of 127 Hours. As you probably know, this will let you transfer the movie to a computer or portable viewing gadget. I’ve never done it and probably never will, but I’ll still comment on it!

After the contrived and erratic Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle comes back with the much more satisfying 127 Hours. Boyle aptly brings life to a potentially static tale, and star James Franco delivers a dynamic performance that should’ve nabbed him an Oscar. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals, solid audio and a nice collection of supplements. Hours delivers a gripping human drama and a fine Blu-ray.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5333 Stars Number of Votes: 75
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main