Simply gorgeous. The MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer is flawless. Shot digitally on multiple platforms, the detail is remarkable, which is so compelling in the scenes where James Franco's Aron Ralston is trapped in the canyon. The lines on his face, stubble and fabrics of his hat and shirt are impeccably nuanced. The color palette is rich from the deep red of Ralston's blood or the reddish-orange rock walls or the turquoise skies of Utah. Contrast is spot on and the blacks are inky.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track matches the quality of the picture. This is a film where the sound is nuanced, but it's handled extremely well. The rear speakers are used to create subtle atmosphere and wrap the viewer in the wonderful score and music. The LFE track rumbles when Ralston first crashes to the bottom of the canyon. The sound effects combined with the scoring are profoundly handled during the scene where Ralston cuts his arm off. Breaking bones and snapping nerves are what make the audience cringe more than the bloody visuals.
I've said it before that I really don't like group commentaries. Director Danny Boyle, producer Christian Colson and co-writer Simon Beaufoy are featured, but it doesn't get too distracting because Boyle is the primary talker. The filmmakers cover their thinking about the film's style and approach, which is quite enlightening in how they approached a film that had such limited locations.
The film features seven deleted scenes. The most impressive is the extended 20-minute ending, which shows Franco's Ralston back with his family and interacting with the people he dreamed about while he was stuck in the cave. It's an amazing example of how great editing can say the same thing that 20-minutes of scenes can do without putting a dead weight on the film's end.
"Search & Rescue" is a great mini-doc on the parallel story of the search for Aron conducted by his family and friends. It seems that his efforts to survive might have not succeeded if there weren't people out looking for him.
"127 Hours: An Extraordinary View" is a wonderful making-of doc that shows a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage of how the filmmakers created the canyon set where Franco was stuck for most of the film. It really is a wonderful look at how the actor and director collaborated together to make a powerful film together.
The most unusual feature (and most surprising treat) is Luke Matheny's NYU student film, GOD OF LOVE, which just won the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film. It's a great little romance. I'd love to hear the story of why it's on this Blu-ray disc.
The BD-Live feature is an almost four-minute talk between Franco and Theatre/Opera Director Peter Sellars at the Telluride Film Festival.