It’s been a while since the Oscars, I know, but I hate to leave a job unfinished. It would be poor form not to review Danny Boyle’s 127 hours, especially since this is a film made by one of my favorite directors, the man who brought us such awesomeness as 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Slumdog Millionaire.
To be honest, 127 Hours is not quite on the same level as Slumdog Millionaire. Admittedly, it’s got a hard premise to work with–a guy named Aron Ralston gets his arm stuck under a rock for 127 hours (hence the title). Not exactly a storyline conducive to stellar dialogue, or even much motion, yet Danny Boyle and co. do their best to spice things up and keep us on the edge of our seats throughout the entire movie. In fact, I might go so far as to say they try a little too hard. Perhaps 127 Hours could best be described as a Danny Boyle movie on steroids. It’s got all the technical brilliance of his other movies, but this time they’re more creative, more unusual, and much more in-your-face.
Few films play with cinematic techniques as with such gleeful excess as 127 Hours. The first five minutes or so is a montage of split-screen images guaranteed to leave you dizzy. Honestly, I”m not even sure I can make the claim that I watched 127 Hours. To do that, I’d have to watch it three times, one for each of the separate moving frames displayed on the screen at the same time. The music (by Slumdog Millionaire composer AR Rahman) is great, no denying, but like the visuals, somewhat overwhelming and a tad out of synch with what’s on the screen. It doesn’t so much as blend seamlessly with the action as scream for your attention.
James Franco gives this film his all, which makes the lack of character examination a bit disappointing. 127 Hours isn’t interested in a focused examination of Aron Ralston’s psychology, or his past–it’s a movie more about style than substance.
Yet there are moments that are so raw and vivid that this isn’t as much a problem as it might be. Some of the film’s visuals really are stunning, and by the end it does absorb you–it just doesn’t pack the emotional punch such a harrowing story might have.