Movie Reviews: 127 Hours and Hereafter

As some of you may know I have been reviewing movies for my favourite radio show “Botica’s Bunch” on Mix FM in Perth for over three years now.  Their show has been number one for a record number of years beating the long held Brisbane record last year and it is privilege to get the opportunity to hang with them every Thursday morning. So now and again I’m going to post some of my reviews for anyone who is keen to check out what is at the movies of late.  I will point out two things:  these are usually in note form because I am talking about the movies on radio so they won’t quite read like my normal writing.  Second is that I don’t consider myself a reviewer as such, I’m just a guy who digs movies and likes to talk about them on radio.  Hopefully they’re more entertaining than anything else but through them you should get an idea of my tastes in movies and be able to make your own opinions from there.

I thought first up I would give you a taste of two movies out at the moment:  127 Hours starring James Franco and Hereafter starring Matt Damon.

127 Hours Review

Made by the director who gave us Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire and starring dreamy James Franco, 127 Hours is an absolute cracking movie…emotionally and literally.

Franco stars as Aron Ralston, a young thrill seeker who loves nothing more than traveling alone in Utah’s Blue John Canyon.  His life of adventuring and excitement is going well until his right arm is pinned by a crashing boulder to the canyon wall…and five days later he must make a fateful decision to save his life.

I had plenty of opportunities to see this film in Los Angeles but I kept putting it off for a few reasons.  First up you see the title of 127 Hours and you think, I can barely sit through a 2-hour film, how will I cope with this?

Second: everyone knows what happens as it was one of the biggest stories of 2003.  When Aron realised there was only one way to survive he removed his lower right arm with a pocketknife.  Now I know some people after a big night on the town have woken up next to someone they don’t find attractive and have gnawed their arm off to escape but this is the real deal.  I knew going in that there is a scene toward the end where he has to break the bone in his arm to finally hack it off.  I will not lie, that cracking noise is full on.  I haven’t been that scared of a crack since I saw Basic Instinct.

I have to say though, I am so glad I saw it because the movie is amazing. James Franco feels like the next generation’s Brad Pitt.  People forget that Pitt was a good looking actor who appeared in movies like Cool World and Johnny Suede when he could have been making rom coms and taking leading man roles.  Franco is the same, a good looking man who takes on a diverse set of roles ranging from Sean Penn’s gay lover in Milk to doing a stint on General Hospital as a part of an acting project.

Directed by Slumdog Millionaire’s Danny Boyle, he takes a story that could have been visually tedious (how do you film a guy trapped under a boulder for the majority of the film, right?) and makes it an exciting and stimulating feast.

I felt like I could relate to Aron because he’s a guy that likes to leave everything behind and get out and about alone.  Of course the major difference is that when I do it I leave my phone at home while I go shopping.  Unless there is a sale at Myer and I’m trapped under a pile of chinos then I should be fine.

Everything about the movie is fantastic from the performances to the direction.  And here’s the surprising bit:  it has one of the most positive and uplifting endings to a movie I’ve seen in a long time.

I’m giving 127 Hours 4 give the man a hands out of five.

Hereafter Review

Now we have the mighty team of Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon who last brought us Invictus reuniting to bring us a tale of heartbreak, disaster and the supernatural in the movie entitled Hereafter.

Three stories run parallel to one another: A French TV presenter nearly dies in a terrible tsunami; a twin boy loses his brother to a fatal accident and an American man can talk to the dead.  How will they cope with the challenges life throws at them and will they find meaning in a world that doesn’t understand their pain?

Now Matt Damon plays the character that can communicate with the dead and to be honest I could watch Matt Damon eating a bowl of ice cream and find it entertaining.  Unfortunately Damon receives no treats in this movie, a movie that was so dull I was convinced I could see dead people.

The opening scene of the tsunami hitting the coast and causing havoc is masterfully directed, as Eastwood doesn’t go for any Michael Bay histrionics. Instead Eastwood shows us in a very matter of fact way how nature can cause such devastating havoc.  But when the rest of the film is played at the same pace you’re suddenly hoping for a robot in disguise to pop up just so something interesting happens.

It is like Eastwood was interested in making a supernatural movie that concentrated on the natural and left out all traces of super.  It aims high with its exploration of what it means to be alive but bored me so much that for a moment I swore my heart stopped beating.

And I wanted to like this.  I really did.  Two thirds of the way through the movie I was still holding out hope for something, anything to happen and then when all hope was lost, I ended up daydreaming about the new Damon movie coming, The Adjustment Bureau with Emily Blunt…mmmm, Emily Blunt, I love her…I would totally marry her in the face…and that’s how boring the Hereafter is because I can’t even stay focused for this review.

This movie ties the natural disaster of a tsunami into the bombs going off in the 2007 terrorist attacks on London and it feels like if a primary school kid wrote this you’d think, oh, that was misguided but good on for you for trying something adult.  But this movie was written by an adult.  Possibly with a purple crayon, y’know, the ones that taste like bruises.

Not only are Eastwood and Damon involved but Steven Spielberg is also the executive producer of this movie and you just have to wonder how three of the most talented people in Hollywood got it so wrong.

At the end of this movie all I could think was, wow, that had the best of intentions but it looks like even Eastwood can take a swing and miss.  And if the hereafter is really this dull then I am going to do my best to stay alive for as long as possible.

I’m giving the Hereafter 2 The Dull Zone’s out of five.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

17th of February, 2011