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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: 127 Hours

March 12th, 2011

127 Hours - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray / Digital Copy Combo Pack

From the very first moment this film was given the green light, 127 Hours was considered an Oscar contender. It is based on a harrowing real life story, which Awards Season voters tend to love. Danny Boyle's previous film won eight Oscars. While the star, James Franco, is one of the hottest young actors around and many think it is just a matter of time before he wins his first Oscar. In the end, it was shut out on Oscar night; however, there's a huge gap between going zero for six at the Oscars and being a disappointment. In fact, my only concern going in was having expectations that were too high.

The Movie

This is a very difficult film to review, as the plot is rather sparse. We meet Aron Ralston in the morning, as he's preparing for a day of outdoor fun. After a bit of fun, and meeting a couple girls, he's back to going solo. However, that turns out to be a mistake and ... Spoilers ahoy ... one freak accident later and his one arm is pinned by a relatively small boulder. Okay, that's not really a spoiler, because you see it in the trailer. But it is also the last part of the plot that I can discuss at all. The rest of the movie is him dealing with his situation and the details absolutely fall within unacceptable spoiler territory, so I'll end it there.

So, is this a good movie? That depends on your definition of good. I recently commented in my review of Raging Bull that the film was difficult to get through because the main characters were all so unrelentingly unpleasant. That film was exceptionally well made, but not something I would want to sit through again, because of how awful the characters were.

A similar thing happens here, but with the events. Some of the things that Aron went through are hard to take. Very hard to take. I don't think I could sit through the movie a second time without skipping a few of those scenes. On the other hand, James Franco delivers such an amazing performance, that I could certainly watch the movie again and again. He's charming enough to draw you in and make you really care about his character. It's still tough to sit through. Also, it's incredible that the filmmakers were able to create such an engaging story that never seems limited, repetitive, and certainly not dull, with such a limited set and cast.

Dull. That's a word I should probably avoid while talking about this movie.

The Extras

There are two extras on the DVD. Firstly, there's an audio commentary track with Danny Boyle, the director / co-writer; Simon Beaufoy, the other co-writer; and Christian Colson, one of the producers. It's a very informative track that keeps the energy level up. There are also 34 minutes of deleted scenes. Or to be more accurate, there are 12 minutes of deleted scenes, and a 22-minute long alternate ending. It's good to have as an extra, but the ending from the theatrical release is better.

I don't have the Blu-ray, which is incredibly frustrating in this case. The video quality varies greatly on DVD, because there are some shots taken with a small consumer level video camera, just like the one used in real life. There's little chance that these shots look good in High Definition. However, there are other shots that look really great and I would have loved to seen how impressive they are in High Definition. There does appear to be a few additional extras on the Blu-ray, plus the Digital Copy, for 33% more. Unless there's something wrong with the Tech Specs, that's the better deal.

The Verdict

127 Hours is a grueling movie to get through, but it is worth it. It is absolutely worth it. It is worth checking out, but without many extras, the DVD is only worth a rental, while the Blu-ray / Digital Copy Combo Pack is worth buying. The Blu-ray might even be pick of the week material, but without a screener, I can't know for sure.

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Filed under: Video Review, 127 Hours