Like Buried, 127 Hours puts a male protagonist stuck in one location where he needs to keep our attention for the full length of the feature. And James Franco does it as well as, if not better than Ryan Reynolds. The story here is pretty thin, albeit dramatic, but the real beauty of 127 Hours is how Danny Boyle put it all together.
The desert shots are beautiful and Boyle's energetic shooting style works like a video game, with every level bringing more excruciating agony -- the sequences are full of adrenaline and foreboding. Franco is even able to take some comedic turns in the face of tragedy thanks to some liberties taken with the state of mind of the real guy who went through it, Aron Ralston (seen here with Boyle and Franco.)
With an exciting visual style borrowing heavily from music videos and commercials vocabulary -- quick cuts, split screens, extreme close-ups -- Boyle redeems himself a little from the Slumdog sellout and remains in the company of directors who share with him a certain filmic aesthetic such as Aronofsky, Burton, Spike Jonze and Christopher Nolan, to a certain extent.