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James Franco performs well despite zealous directng in ‘127 Hours’

James Franco as Aron Ralston in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

By: Brett Frangella, Contributing Reporter

Eight years ago, amateur rock climber Aron Ralston captivated the American imagination with his survival story. Ralston was climbing and hiking in Utah’s Blue John Canyon when a fatal error caused a boulder to fall on his arm, stranding him in the canyon for over five days. Ralston ultimately severed his own arm with a pocket knife in order to survive, becoming a media sensation in the process.

Ralston’s story has now been adapted in to a feature film, directed by Slumdog Millionaire‘s Danny Boyle, 127 Hours does a good job of adapting Ralston’s story to the big screen. The success of the adaptation falls mostly on a stunning lead performance delivered by James Franco as Aron Ralston. Franco carries the film, somehow making one guy trapped under a rock into riveting entertainment.

The only place the film really falters is in Boyle’s over-enthusiastic direction. I understand the necessity to try and keep such minimalist subject matter interesting, but Boyle’s odd camera flourishes are occasionally great (stark landscape shots of the canyon) but more often gimmicky and distracting (heartfelt scenes of Ralston recording himself interrupted by shots of the inner-workings of his video camera).

That said, 127 Hours is still a fine film. If you’re the kind of moviegoer that enjoys tension then you’ll have a good time. 127 Hours greatest accomplishment is successfully presenting a story with a well known ending as entertaining drama.

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