Director Danny Boyle’s latest film, “127 Hours” (not to be confused with his “28 Days Later…” his Darwinian, digital video zombie flick from 2002), chronicles the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston (played by James Franco) and the five excruciating — not to mention claustrophobic — days he spent pinned underneath a boulder in a remote Utah canyon.
The climax of “127 Hours,” as you’ve probably heard, involves Ralston breaking and then amputating his own forearm to free himself from his orographic captor. You’ve also probably heard that said climax left many early audiences vomiting and fainting in the aisles. Let’s just say it’s a watch-through-your-fingers-on-an-empty-stomach kind of scene. (Reportedly, the sound effects are also rather vivid as well, so you may want to bring earmuffs to the theatre.)
“127 Hours” got us thinking about other harrowing (but non-vomit-inducing) films that feature characters scaling Mother Nature’s most dazzling — and dangerous — creation: Mountains. Here are five of our favorites from Hollywood:
1. "The Eiger Sanction" (1975): Think “Dirty Harry” goes to the Swiss Alps and you’ve pretty much grasped the premise of this Clint Eastwood-directed action film. Eastwood plays Jonathan Hemlock, a semi-retired government assassin/art collector/mountaineer who is sent off on a mountain climbing expedition/hit job by his “employer,” an albino ex-Nazi named Dragon. We couldn’t make this stuff up.
2. "Mission Impossible II" (2000): Wow, Tom Cruise sure does spend a whole lot of time dangling, leaping, falling, plunging, hanging and swaying from really high places as Ethan Hunt in the “Mission Impossible” movies (he recently dangled from the world’s tallest building, Burj Kahlifa in Dubai, for a stunt in the fourth installment of the series). As evidenced in the opening sequence of “Mission Impossible II,” Hunt enjoys a good, death-defying free climb even while on vacation. If we were him, we’d just settle for a beach chair and a pina colada in Maui.
3. "Cliffhanger" (1993): Sylvester Stallone saves the day when he foils a massive heist being carried out by a nefarious group of thieves — lead by John Lithgow, but of course — trying to get their hands on $100 million in uncirculated cash. Sound like a generic heist thriller? It kind of is. However, the film’s stunning, stunt-worthy, and Stallone-appropriate setting, the Rocky Mountains, made “Cliffhanger” a box office smash.
4. "Vertical Limit" (2000): Martin Campbell, the director of a couple of James Bond and Zorro movies, cast two popular-in-the-mid '90s actors, Robin Tunney (“The Craft”) and Chris O’ Donnell (“Batman Forever”), as the Garretts, mountain-climbing siblings who have a rough go of things, to say the least, during a rescue expedition on the world’s second highest peak, K2.
5. "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" (1989): What’s the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise to do when on leave from the gig he knows and loves? Hit up Yosemite for some free climbing with his BFF, Dr. Spock, of course.
- "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" (1992)
- "Alive" (1993)
- "K2" (1991)
- "The Mountain" (1956)
- "Seven Years in Tibet" (1997)