In case you haven’t heard: “127 Hours” is the movie where James Franco cuts off his own arm.
With a selling point like that, it’s remarkable that anyone is seeing this movie.
However, great reviews and an acclaimed director (Danny Boyle) have lured some people to the theater. Myself included.
When it comes to graphic arm severing, “127 Hours” certainly delivers. When it comes to substance and intellectual stimulation, the movie comes up short.
The film’s title refers to the amount of time that Aron Ralston spent trapped underneath an unmovable boulder in 2003.
In the opening scenes, we learn that Aron (played by Franco) is an extreme outdoorsman. He spends his weekends exploring Utah’s rugged, isolated Bluejohn Canyon.
About 15 minutes into the picture, Aron learns why responsible people don’t go off into the wilderness alone without a cell phone. A rock slide leaves him stuck in a canyon, his arm crushed and permanently pinned to the mountainside.
Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) faced a big challenge in bringing “127 Hours” to the screen. How do you take an extremely boring and unpleasant situation and turn it into a movie that is entertaining and enjoyable?
Boyle basically succeeds. “127 Hours” isn’t boring and it isn’t excruciating to watch. You can’t help but put yourself in poor Aron’s shoes as he suffers through unspeakable physical and emotional pain for days on end. It helps to know that our hero ultimately found a way out of his predicament and lived to tell (and sell) the tale.
The problem that I have with “127 Hours” is that it is utterly pointless. Being forced to endure such torture would teach a man some deep life lessons, you’d think.
Apparently not. The primary things on Aron’s mind are exactly what you’d expect from a young man who is dying alone. He thinks about his parents and regrets that he didn’t fully appreciate them or talk to them more often. He fantasizes about the girl he loved and regrets that he let her get away.
I was expecting something more. I was hoping to learn something about the human condition. I was expecting Aron to discover something profound about himself.
But, sadly, I walked out of the theater having learned nothing about humanity.
And evidently Aron didn’t learn a lesson, either. Before the closing credits we learn that Aron has recovered fully and still goes off on extreme adventures by himself!
I don’t even know what to make of that.
I respect that a man has to follow his passion and do what he loves. But there are limits! I love writing this column more than I can express. However, if writing a review led me to a situation where I had to cut off my own arm to survive, I assure you that would be the end of Max’s View.
“127 Hours” is not pleasant to watch and it isn’t particularly substantive. I don’t understand why it’s getting such great reviews.