on August 30, 2002
Cast Away is the story of Chuck (Tom Hanks), a FedEx delivery worker who finds himself stranded on a desert island after his plane goes down. On each end of the movie is the story of his life back in the "real world"; however, that story is somewhat undeveloped and underemphasized. Before the crash he had just proposed to his fiance, and upon his return he finds that she is married with children (and on a side note, either time moved faster on the mainland or else his loving fiance was married and pregnant in less than a year after his disappearance). I felt that subplot should have either been left alone or else dealt with in a more elaborate way; the ending left the movie feeling incomplete.
However, the heart of the movie involves Chuck's time on the island, and it is simply Hanks at his best. Chuck is alone, trying to survive; every little task could mean the difference between life and death. For Hanks, this means he must display the gamut of emotions about seemingly trivial matters with no other actors to help with the illusion. I know of no other actor that could have me to the point of tears when a volleyball starts to float away from him. No offense to Russel Crowe, but how he won Best Actor for playing a stoic, monosyllabic gladiator over this performance is one of life's great mysteries. For fans of great acting performances, this one is highly recommended.
on June 30, 2002
The job that one has makes it likely that one will develop a personality that is a function of that job. In Robert Zemeckis' CAST AWAY, Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) plays a FedEx executive whose life revolves around the clock. If a package is late for delivery, someone under his command will catch hell. For him, time is a precious commodity, and can be measured by the units of the clock, not by the ticks of the heart. This is his life, and he and his fiancee, played briefly by Helen Hunt, do not seem unhappy with that. His life changes and not just because he is cut off from the world for five years as he is marooned on a tropical island after a plane crash. Most critics who comment on the movie point out that CAST AWAY is really an allegory of man's struggle for survival in an inhospitable environment against long odds. Now certainly there is that subtext, but if that is the major point of the film, then why bother to have the first part where he is time driven or the last part where he seeks to re-establish emotional roots that were uprooted years before? I see a different message: people are a function of their environment, which shapes their behavior, their food, their entertainment, their relations, or even their self-image. This shaping imprints itself strongly with time, and a change of environment does not result in an immediate change within. The body and the soul need time to 'catch up.' For Chuck Noland, his years on the island served to whittle away his outer shell of a clock-based life. Slowly, he learns to eat, to swim, to care for his teeth in a rhythm dictated by the stars overhead, not by the watch that he misses more than all else. When he miraculously reappears in his former life, he has to reset his internal clock once again. The scene in which he plays with a match in his hotel room, lighting it effortlessly, producing a flame that he could not on his island, point out that though he is now in a hotel room, his mind has not yet made the temporal leap from the island. It may take years for him to readjust himself, as the concluding scene with the pretty girl with the truck indicates. But he might, and this lesson in the slow acceptance of how changes in life cause changes in behavior resonate more powerfully than merely pondering the survival techniques of the latest Robinson Crusoe.
on June 23, 2002
The first thought I had after seeing this film was whether or not I fully understood all of what I had seen. Posing this question will undoubtedly offer no easy answers, which for a film like Cast Away is probably a good thing. Cast Away begins with Fed Ex Executive Chuck Nolan (Tom Hanks in another stellar performance) explaining to his employee's that quote "We live by the clock". It's Christmas Eve and Chuck is enjoying a good meal with family and friends when his beeper rings and he finds himself forced to go out on a quick job. He tells his beautiful girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) that he will be home in time for new years celebrations. He promises. However a tragic plane crash into the ocean (which is very thrilling and realistic) changes all that. Now Chuck will no longer be living by the clock because he's now got all the time in the world. A trailer that gives away the entire movie ruined cast Away for many people. A spokes man for 20th Century Fox Entertainment said that Cast Away is movie about a man lost at sea and how he deals with coming home to world of change. Frankly I do not see it that way. I am a firm believer that people want to be surprised when they go to the movies. The only other quibble I have about the movie is the ending from which I think we the viewers are left with too many questions. Besides those problems I walked out of the theatre feeling really satisfied with what I had seen. The acting is top flight. The cinematography is excellent and the score is also a plus. One thing to mention to people is that there isn't allot of dialogue in the movie which may turn some people off. However, those people not too fussy may find this film truly riveting. For me it was a breathtaking experience. Review: **** out of five
on February 10, 2002
The theme of the cast away goes back long before Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) or The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss (1781-1830); indeed it probably goes back to a time when people first set out on the open sea in boats. It is a wonderfully romantic genre, employing the classic "man versus nature" theme while allowing us to indulge in the fantasy of escape from the confines and restrictions of civilization.
Here we have Tom Hanks as Chuck Nolan, a Fed Ex executive whose plane ditches into the South Pacific ocean. He washes up on a tiny, desert island as the sole survivor of the plane crash. (Incidentally, both "des-ert island" and "de-serted island" are correct, the words "des-ert' and "de-serted" in this context meaning the same thing.) His four-year stay on the island forms the bulk of the movie, but perhaps the most engaging part for most movie-goers is what happens afterwards.
Tom Hanks was excellent throughout, as usual, and the direction by Robert Zemeckis from a script by William Broyles Jr. was compelling. Especially good was the irony about what happens to Chuck's beloved (Helen Hunt) while he is gone. This has been done before (but I forget where), and is the kind of heart-wrenching development that could have been pure saccharin but instead came across as thought-provoking, veracious and very affecting.
Zemeckis also directed the excellent film, Contact (1997), made from the novel by Carl Sagan. We can see here (and there) that Zemeckis's work owes a lot to the influence of Steven Spielberg in both a positive and a negative sense. Zemeckis, like Spielberg, can be cloying at times in his effort to secure the audience's identification. We can see this in the beginning with Chuck cutely trying to sell efficiency to the Russians with the help of a little boy. But splendid was the plane crash sequence, the kind of thing Spielberg would want to be intensely vivid, and it was. And later the startling sight of the huge cargo ship, like a sea-going skyscraper, recalled to mind the first shot of the spaceship from Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). The Fed Ex packages flying out all over the world engendering a kind of corporate "we're all one world" feeling like something from a Coca-Cola commercial was pure Spielberg.
But what I like to do when I look at a movie like this is to lean forward and scrutinize it for authenticity. Did the cast away lose weight? Yes, as a matter of fact, Tom Hanks must have dropped about ten pounds, or perhaps he fattened up for the first part of the film (or was that body cosmetology?) and then fasted for the scenes showing him four years later. But did he lose enough weight? For those who have been watching TV's "Survivor," we know he didn't. And was he tan enough? His hair was little lighter after his ordeal, but he really needed to be baked a dark brown, which he wasn't.
I also look at how he ate. What was his source of vitamin C? Do coconuts contain Vitamin C? I don't know. But showing him eating seaweed, which does contain vitamin C, would have worked. Using the coconuts to hold water was a nice touch. Learning to spear fish with a wooden spear is plausible, but spearing a fish with a wooden spear in the open ocean is unlikely. Notice there were no birds or bird eggs or bird guano on the island. An uninhabited island in the middle of the ocean is always a nesting place for birds.
This last observation reveals that the setting was not in fact a tiny island but part of a larger body of land. Notice there was no clear, encircling shot of the island (as from the air). In fact we never see the other side of the island.
It was interesting to see how he got the fire going (again "Survivor" fans--and boy scouts--know how hard that is to do), but I was thinking that maybe he could have used the glass on the watch face or from the flashlight as a way to concentrate sunlight to make a fire.
I also watched to see whether he did what I would have done. Of course what I would have done doesn't mean that much, but I would not have left the island for the open ocean (which seemed almost suicidal), unless there was out there on that ocean a ship's corridor, so to speak, which is possible. Of course, who can say what a man might do after being four years entirely alone on a tiny island? I also would not have tried to cure my toothache, regardless of how bad it hurt, by breaking the tooth off with the ice skates. After all, that might make things worse. Trying to pull the tooth would have been my strategy--but how?
I liked the irony of finding the ice skates in a washed up Fed Ex package, and then Chuck's use of the blades as mirror and knife. I know why he didn't take the dead man's clothes, but I think he should have plugged his nose and peeled them off anyway. The washed up metal "sail" was a nice inspiration, and there were many others: the "discovery" of tool-making by striking the vocanic rock at the right angle; burning the base of the trees to make wood for the raft; the petroglyphs he made in the cave; sleeping on the floor in the hotel room, etc.
Best no comment scene: Chuck looking at the Alaskan king crab legs at the buffet.
on September 29, 2001
Cast Away is something rare and special in Hollywood. It's an epic Hollywood blockbuster type with a name actor and director that is actually brilliant, classy, and worth all of it. Usually, those types of films are hollow and eye candy. That's okay too, you know. This film shows that they can also be the exact opposite. Tom Hanks stars as Chuck Noland, a fed-ex worker who goes on a flight for a delivery and the plane crashes into the sea. Chuck drifts(on an inflatible boat)to a remote island. Chuck ends up spending four years on that island. His only companion is a volleyball named Wilson. Chuck wonders about his girlfriend back home, who's played by Helen Hunt. Hanks' performance is a one man showstopper. He proves again why he is such a loved and respected performer. He deserves all of the attention and respect. He deserved the Oscar instead of Russell Crowe. Crowe wasn't anything stand-outish. If Hanks hadn't of won twice already, he would've won this too. Helen Hunt is usually good, but she is given way less to do here to really review. Her end scenes with Hanks are pretty good tho. This movie defied all odds. It was one man on a deserted island for the majority of the film. Tons of film were without dialogue and music. Very risky and brave. Director Robert Zemeckis pulled it off brilliantly. He always does. This is a great, up-lifting, spiritual film that would make anybody feel better about themselves for seeing this. This is a Hollywood classic. Do yourself a favor and forget about "Survivor". This film is the way it should be. A must see.
on September 29, 2001
Cast Away is good, that's true. I knew exactly what it would be all about even before seeing it. But I still had fun. And the plane crash is awesome...freaky to death. The moments spent on the island were purely great, but the rest suffered of the Spielberg-like pathetic ending. Tom Hanks played his usual role, but who cares? He plays it well. Maybe a change wouldn't be so bad...Anyways, his character was pretty intelligent and he reacted just like I would have reacted...except for the swear words...he didn't even say one F-word. And Zemeckis really convinced me that Tom Hanks' Volley ball was his friend...I even felt stupid after the movie because of that. The backgrounds made me feel like I was in paradise. And this film is an exception to his genre, and it's a very good thing; He was always alone on his island, there were no stupid cannibal tribes or anything. It's like Robinson Crusoe, but with its own advantages, and its own weak points. This is surely a good movie, and I'm sure it will get some Academy Award Nominations, because it's exactly the kind of films that will touch the heart of the judges and please to their "Right to Censorship" mind. Most of it was a good moment, but the other parts suffered of the pathetic syndrome. And, by the way, this is not a very touching movie, it won't make you cry or anything, but it's very agreeable to watch. And you can also interpret it as a critic to materialism. Good film.
on June 1, 2002
I have seen this movie on HBO, and I had multiple feelings to it. Watching this movie, I had several different reactions. One was the horror I felt during the crash scene--very horrifying. Another was amazement-- amazement at what a person will do to survive under the most desperate circumstances. Yet another reaction I had was sadness--I really felt sorry for Chuck as he was sobbing after losing Wilson, his only "friend" on the island. I also felt sorry for him when he comes back home, eager to see his girlfriend after four long years, only to find that she is now married to someone else and has a child. I also felt that what happened to Chuck was a matter of fate--I think this incident needed to happen so that he could be forced to see what was really important in life-- the need to slow down and cherish relationships more. "Cast Away" is a movie that will evoke your emotions as it did with me.
on January 6, 2002
The director wants us to believe that a person who experiences an airline crash and near-drowning, then four years of isolation and hardship, can do so without once uttering the name of God. I suspect that even an atheist, when confronted with these traumas, would eventually find solace in some kind of supernatural being. Proof: What three words were most often heard when New Yorkers witnessed the collapse of the Trade Towers? "Oh, my God!"
I'm not a religious person. But I do know that no culture in the history of man has failed to find, invent or create some kind of deity. But Hanks' character spent four years with no companionship of any kind, and the only way he used his mind was to learn basic survival skills? No philosohical ruminating, no deep thoughts, no epiphanies? Sorry, this is just too hard to believe.
on October 29, 2003
"Cast Away" reunites once again the awarded team Zemeckis / Hanks, and once again they managed to create a good film. There are several remarkable aspects in "Cast Away": overall the cinematography is excellent, the photography is quite realistic and Tom Hank's characterization is also great.
Robert Zemeckis and William Broyles (screenwriter) showed a lot of creativity by including the lovable character "Wilson", definitely a character to remember. "Cast Away" sometimes feels and looks so realistic that you really feel trapped in a lonely island with Tom Hanks. You will suffer along Chuck Noland (Hanks) the loneliness and desperation sensations.
Technically "Cast Away" is almost flawless, like all the movies directed by Robert Zemeckis, and overall the story is very good and realistic. However the movie also has weak spots: Helen Hunt is misused in a very lackluster role to Helen's standards. The first half hour of the movie elapses with few highlights, and the last half hour is kinda disappointing.
At the end of the day, "Cast Away" is a worthy movie. Specially for the Tom Hanks' fans or Robert Zemeckis' fans.
on May 22, 2003
This movie hammers home the idea, to me at least, that Tom Hanks deserves the Oscar. His acting ability amazes me.
This film harkens back to one of Tom's older films Joe Versus the Volcano, as the main character ends up on a deserted island. In this film, it's because of a plane crash in the pacific. The similarities between Cast Away and JVTV were numerous, with lots of bits of symbolism all through the film.
Chuck Noland (Hanks) is a Fed-Ex employee who is obsessed with time. Everything has to be done on time (the Fed-Ex motto). When things go wrong in the biz, they call him in. When he gets called away right before Christmas, he figures it's just a short trip. A few hours later, he's in the drink.
Trying to survive on the island only one concern. The other is keeping his sanity, which is apparently in short supply. Hanks delivers one of the best performances of his career in this film, which hardly got a second glance by critics.
While there are a few special effects in the film (the plane crash), the film is mostly centered on Hanks character and follows him while he tries to make some resemblence of a life on the island. Where's Gilligan, the Skipper and the professor when you need them?
Any Hanks fan should own this one. This is the one he got robbed of the Oscar on. You can repeat this mantra everytime you watch it. It's a slow constant flow-of-a-film, and is very dramatic and wonderful. I would have liked more special features, so I didn't give it 5 stars.