"127 Hours" Blu-ray Review
March 08, 2011 by Zach Demeter
How does one follow up a multi-Oscar winning film like Slumdog Millionaire? Well, you create another Oscar worthy film, of course! While Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours netted six Oscar nominations, it ended up receiving zero of them. Quite a contrast to Slumdog’s ten nominations and eight wins, but aside from Boyle there is really nothing remotely similar about those two films so I suppose it should come as no surprise. Regardless of its lack of Oscar’s, 127 Hours is every bit as fresh, original, and edge-of-your-seat as Boyle’s other past outings and was just another great staple to add to his already impressive catalog of films.
From the Academy Award®-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, and starring James Franco in a “tour de force performance” (Associated Press), comes one of the most “triumphant and enthralling” (Rolling Stone) movies of the year. Nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor (Franco), 127 HOURS is an edge-of-your seat cinematic experience that recounts one man’s harrowing story of survival. Based on true events, 127 Hours follows Aron Ralston, a dare-devil outdoorsman who gets trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone in the Utah mountains. As hours turn into days, Ralston embarks on a 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!
While Slumdog Millionaire was based off of events that could have been true, 127 Hours is based on a story that is completely true. A lone rock climber/descender (whichever you want to call it) goes out on his own, with his last bit of human interaction being a pair of girls he ran into on the trail. After they part ways he continues on his journey into the caves; it’s here, early on, that he misjudges a boulders sturdiness and after a split second fall he finds himself with a pinned arm. While the film does spend a bit of time setting the whole scenario and his situation up, I was really quite shocked by how quickly we were thrown into it.
The film isn’t long by any means (it barely brushes over an hour and a half), but for a film that is essentially James Franco stuck in one position for the majority of it…well, it’s just enough. I really had a hard time believing that Boyle could trap our title character in a rock so soon in the film, but he kept it interesting. I didn’t read the book so I’ve no idea what liberties were taken, but the mixing of flashbacks, delusions and what Aron did to attempt to free himself was really a very tense way to watch the film. The early sequence in which he fumbles around to find a knife comes flashing back into your mind as he attempts to cut away at both the rock and his own arm to free himself. It definitely wasn’t a film for the weak of heart; not only because of the gruesome arm cutting scene but also because it explored Aron’s past and the mistakes that he realized he had made. Add onto it that it’s also a bit of a psychological/philosophical area with the idea that his arm being pinned by a rock was because of the way he lived his life and you realize this is more than just a film about a man with his arm pinned down by a rock.
When you watch this film you will feel like a sliver of the same fear and elation that Aron himself felt, but nonetheless you can experience his turmoil for yourself as Boyle brings it vividly to life. There is nary a moment in the film that doesn’t draw you deeper and deeper in and the ultimate conclusion is one that is just absolutely astonishing. A Must See film.
Fox pushes 127 Hours out on Blu-ray in a two-disc release. Inside the slipcover (which is quite nicely done)-draped Elite Blu-ray case is a single insert and the two discs – one Blu-ray and one digital copy (why they didn’t include a DVD copy this time around I don’t know). Menus for the Blu-ray are simple and easy to navigate and the overall presentation that is nice enough and that cover art really just looks fantastic.
Moving onto the AVC encoded 1080p 1.85:1 transfer we get the usual flawless presentation out of Fox. The majority of the film oozes detail out of all of the frames, boasting plenty of detail in the myriad of sequences that range from the cavern pool to the dusty and sandy trap that Franco gets locked in. Mix in all of Boyle’s fantastic visuals and time lapse/blown out effects and you just have a really jaw-dropping film to gaze upon. On top of that we have plenty of detail on character faces and…yes, the arm removal is particularly gruesome in HD. The audio matches the visual presentation with incredible precision. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is probably the quietest track I’ve ever heard and for that reason alone I cannot recommend it enough. It seems odd to want less out of an audio track, but because of the films copious amounts of silence you just appreciate the subtle effects that much more; surround channels perk up at the oddest of times and the subwoofer rarely barks out until it is absolutely necessary to emphasize a moment. The film wouldn’t be half as engrossing as it was without this A/V package; I simply cannot imagine watching it on a tiny screen (but those of you who are curious you can find out with the digital copy!).
• Commentary with Danny Boyle, Christian Colson & Simon Beaufoy
• Search & Rescue - The events that aided the search and rescue of Aron Ralston
• 127 Hours: An Extraordinary View - A unique collaboration between the director and actor
• Deleted Scenes
• God of Love: short film by Luke Matheny
The extras here look short in number but, commentary included, we get over three hours of goodies here to look at. While some of it may not be as enticing to others, the commentary track and “An Extraordinary View” featurette are two must-sees if you pick up this disc. The track is as informative as ever with Boyle in the lead, but the featurette is also fantastic because you get to see Franco and Boyle collaborate on set while making the film. There’s a lot of good footage here to check out, all of it worth watching when you pick up this Highly Recommended disc.
127 Hours is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.