James Franco stars in Sam Raimi's ambitious and spectacular "Oz: The Great and Powerful" (4.5 / 5 stars), and in the picture, Raimi successfully juggles several tones and themes while also paying homage to the original "The Wizard of Oz".
For certain, the film seems like a high wire act, and Franco shines while dancing on a tightrope of his own.
He plays the title role as a Kansas con-man who suddenly is asked to perform great and heroic deeds for people of Oz.
Looking back, the movie does seem predictable, but during its 2 hour 10 minute runtime, I bought every hook, line and sinker, and the moment the film ended, I immediately began hoping for a sequel.
"127 Hours" (2010) 5 / 5 stars – I first heard the Aron Ralston story (like most people) in the news back in 2003.
The 20-something year-old spent almost a week pinned by a boulder in a remote canyon - during a lonely desert hike near Moab, Utah - and finally freed himself by cutting off his own arm.
Cutting off his own arm? Wow. Just unfathomable.
1. Keep the audience’s interest for 90 minutes when the camera focuses on only one person for almost the entire movie.
2. Keep the movie from becoming a one-note picture when Ralston’s gory deed actually occurs.
Boyle performs masterfully on both counts, as he creates an engaging and emotional experience – accompanied by a beautiful musical score - which not only holds our attention, but pulls us into that remote canyon with Ralston (James Franco) and his unthinkable 127-hour ordeal.
Franco deserves huge accolades as well as he volleys Ralston between humor (to keep himself sane) and the ultimate despair with gifted-actor ease.
It’s a mesmerizing performance which brings us to the thoughts of man facing certain death, which include immediate family and lost love.
It’s cliché to say a movie’s message is: live every moment to the fullest.
It’s something completely different when a movie can actually make you feel it.
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