The Source for Youth Ministry

Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

127 Hours (3/1/2011)

Rated R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images.

Starring James Franco

Directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later)

Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

Definitely one of the more uncomfortable films of the year.

127 Hours is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's (James Franco) remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolate canyon in Utah. Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he is finally rescued. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers, family, and the last two people he ever had the chance to meet. A visceral thrilling story that will take an audience on a never before experienced journey and prove what we can do when we choose life.

If I didn’t remember hearing about Aron Ralston and his unbelievable journey, I would have questioned the authenticity of this story the whole way through. And even though we know what's going to happen, the drama leading up to the accident and his near-death experience is simply thrilling. Ralston has what appears to be a minor accident. He dislodges a rock, which pins his arm against the canyon wall.

The crazy thing is that the amputation could have been avoided if someone had known his whereabouts or he had been able to call for help. As you watch Aron struggle to free himself, you also see him deteriorate physically, emotionally and mentally. And James Franco does an amazing job from start to finish. His performance is one of the best of the year.
There's no question that Danny Boyle is a talented director. He has helmed some fantastic movies like 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire. And in 127 Hours he takes you inside Aron’s head, into the struggle, confusion and finally, into the horrifying realization of what he must do to survive.

Watching the film is not an easy experience. In fact (and I’m not proud to say this) I almost walked out, just to get some fresh air. That being said, it is one of the best movies of the year. It's just not a film that is supposed to make you comfortable.

Probably not the best idea for younger viewers. Although it is a great story, the language and the scene where Aron breaks and then cuts off his arm caused me to squirm.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

Q: What’s the message/theme of this movie?

A: Aron Ralston went hiking one day and as the result of an accident, was forced to cut off his own arm. It's not only a story of the human spirit, but it's also a character study. And it serves as a kind of warning: One false move could prove deadly, so plan ahead.

More often than not, it seems that life isn’t fair. Maybe you’ve had a day like that where everything that could possibly go wrong does. The day that you’re most in rush, it always seems that the other check-out line next to you moves faster than yours and you’re line is held up for 10 minutes. Or the day you need your car the most, it breaks down. Sometimes in life when it seems that things can’t get any worse, they suddenly do. Aron had that kind of day.

Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
A: Because this is often the case, we as humans often respond negatively when we face unexpected problems. And generally that’s because we tend to view problems horizontally. That means that we tend to look at our problems from a human point of view rather than from a vertical, or God-oriented perspective. We tend to leave God out of the picture until we are desperate, and then we bring him into the picture.

Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?
A: When we face unexpected problems we need to do two things:

  1. Turn to God quickly. Seriously, how often do we fail to look up until we have “tried everything else” first. God wants us to turn to Him when life gets hard. In an uncertain world he is the only certain thing.

    Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

  2. REMEMBER what God has done for us. When we are in the middle of a problem that we can’t seem to see a solution for, or when we are facing uncertainty and there is no easy answer, we need to remember what God has done in the past. When we remember the good things He has done for us, it helps us to hold on even though it feels hopeless, confusing, and uncertain.

Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.

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