127 Hours [Blu-Ray] Danny Boyle

127 Hours [Blu-Ray] Danny Boyle
On the reverse sleeve of the 127 Hours Blu-Ray, a quote from The Wall Street Journal reads, "Treats profound issues with unforced wisdom and an uncommon grace." While this may be a sincere opinion coming from a Republican publication more versed in distraction and crudity like money, the one thing that doesn't work about Danny Boyle's adaptation of Aron Ralston's memoir, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, is its purported "profundity." Undeniably, Boyle invigorates this story, which exists almost entirely in a single location – Ralston (James Franco) trapped in a canyon with his arm crushed between rocks – with a variety of visually exciting cinematic techniques and styles, employing split screens, creative camerawork and a variety of film grains. This isn't surprising, coming from the man that brought us the visual trickery and nightmarish chaos of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, demonstrating a visual understanding of the medium that could propel the most humdrum of stories (Slumdog Millionaire, A Life Less Ordinary). But where he struggles is in deeper human understanding and incisive existential crisis, which would be fine if he weren't so preoccupied with them. Take The Beach, his adaptation of the Alex Garland novel of the same name, wherein a collection of idealists from various cultures discover their own paradise away from the rigid structures of social order. It looked beautiful, having exceptional cinematography and enough stylization to keep the story moving ahead, but its Lord of the Flies mythology – tackling the darker nature of human instinct – was superficial at best, viewed through particularly myopic eyes, simplifying any actions not taken by its protagonist. 127 Hours suffers a similarly shallow disposition, which comes in part from the fact that Ralston is a bit of an empty vessel. He's a dime-a-dozen American boy of privilege that idealizes his "connection" with nature in an effort to be special amidst the other millions of interchangeable, hollow boys with a bright, suburban future. His realizations of taking his parents for granted and not expressing his feelings to a girl aren't particularly compelling or complex, which is exacerbated by Boyle's tendency, again, to focus on storytelling variation and daily structure, such as rationing water and going pee, instead of connecting human themes. He could have injected a variety of narrative techniques to heighten ideas of identity in relation to a collective or mortal insignificance, but instead he literally mirrors isolated overhead shots with images of groups of people, touching the surface without even scratching it. On the commentary track, Boyle and co-writer Simon Beaufoy discuss the variety of styles and shots used to tell the story, never looking beyond trickery and technique. The supplements on Ralston and the specifics of the film shoot do little to add to this, merely giving a bit of insight into the production and our overly bland protagonist. (Fox)