Titles inform. While 127 Hours refers to the amount of time Aron Ralston spent trapped by a boulder, a more informative title would've been the book's Between a Rock and a Hard Place or, better yet, Call Me Lefty: The Story of How I Cut My Own F*cking Arm Off. Top That, Bitches!
James Franco stars as Ralston and as he's really come on as an actor in recent years, it's hard to believe this is the same guy who was so stiff and terrible as Harry Osbourne in the Spiderman movies. He anchors this story of a man anchored by a rock and how he eventually choose to survive at all costs.
Director Danny Boyle is also improving - I've pretty much thought he was overrated and incapable of not letting his films go off the rails in the third act (e.g. 28 Days Later, Sunshine) - but his follow-up to the Oscar-winning (and pretty much forgotten) Slumdog Millionaire is solid, though occasionally hallucinogenic. He's now two for two in not botching the endings of his movies.
The big problem is that we know where this is going - Ralston cuts his own arm off with a dull knife - so the trick is in making the time spent before the punchline interesting. However, even at a brief 93 minutes, it feels padded and a little self-indulgent as Boyle indulges in crazy dream sequences involving Scooby Doo and a flood. Whether Ralston imagined these things and wrote about them is unknown (didn't read the book), but it feels like padding for a story which is little more than, "Man goes hiking. Gets stuck. Cuts arm off."
Score: 6/10. Rent the DVD.
One thing I learned from news stories I looked up after watching was that a few months earlier, Rolston survived being nearly buried in an avalanche while skiing; why couldn't this have been mentioned as a sign perhaps he needed to start staying home and playing videogames? Also, 10 years earlier, a fisherman cut his leg off below the knee when trapped. I wonder if he wishes he'd written a book?