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.
on January 30, 2003
I'm not normally a huge Tom Hanks fan, but this movie was really good. I like realism in movies, and I thought his island predicament was much more realistic than most directors would've portrayed it as. There were no Rambo-style wild boar hunts. There was no race through the jungle from hostile headhunting natives, all the time with thundering bongo drum background music. The movie instead showed a struggle for survival that was much more akin to frustration, determination, and human behavior, not fantasy adventure. For example, Hanks doesn't just create fire instantly, it takes him several draining attempts and an injury before he creates sparks. He learns from his mistakes. He doesn't crack the coconut open on the first try. He doesn't get past the tide in his lifeboat until he's figured out the tide patterns.
Other reviews call this boring, but they're missing the whole point of the movie. Life on a deserted island for four years wasn't meant to be exciting. The movie focuses around his adaptation for survival, both physically and mentally. Watch a movie like "The Beach" if you're expecting cliff jumping, bullet dodging, and knife fights with sharks.
Disappointingly, an underlying theme in the movie is a FedEx commercial, showing the tireless efforts of not only Hanks, but also his Russian workers, to ensure our mail is delivered on time and not a minute later. Yes, we are to believe that lower class Russian serfs de-prioritize the nuisances of eating and living under a roof in order to pursue the much more meaningful goal of delivering mail on time for complete strangers with enough wealth to be able to afford first class priority mail service.
Fast forward the first 15 minutes of this FedEx pitch until the plane crash, and enjoy the movie from thereon.
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 July 13, 2002
I don't know. Definitely see the film, but this is really another character study. Tom Hanks just happens to be stranded on a tropical island. It's not about being stranded on a tropical island but about Tom Hanks trying to prove what a great character actor he is. The similar stories, movies, and T.V. shows that I saw as a child (Robinson Crusoe, Gilligan's Island, pirate stuff, Billy Budd, Typee, war movies where guys get stranded, etc.) were as fun and exciting or more so. I think that's because those shows were about the situation more than a person's feelings or emotional adaptation the situation. The whole idea of the genre is to escape mentally to a tropical island, not escape from one. We want the imagined fantasy of freedom, running around in our underwear with tropical beauties and eating coconuts, not reality.
The ending of Cast Away was cinematic poetry. People should think (but not too deeply) for a few seconds about what was going on in the last shot. I wished the moviemakers had stretched for a little more richness and depth in the part of the movie that occurs after Tom Hank's was rescued, including the very end. They didn't show any change in personality, attitudes, increase in depth of personality, religious awakening, etc. People who have been in different but far less intense situations, like the Peace Corp, for example, have come back with much more significantly changed attitudes and values about life. The change could even have been that he came back as a basket case. It shows a shallowness in the moviemaker's understanding of people both in the Tom Hank's character and in audiences. I did think Meg Ryan's reactions to Tom Hank's release were well done and authentic. But this is a movie you watch to be entertained not to analyze!
Tom Hank's is trying too hard to be taken seriously as a great character actor. I think he's trying to compete with Dinero and Nicholson-- "star" character actor.
When we watch Cast Away, we're watching Tom Hanks, and America loves Tom Hanks. But when we watch Deniro in movies like Mean Streets and Taxi, we're watching the character. Everything Deniro does with the character fits in perfectly. Robert Deniro never draws attention to himself in a movie. He draws attention to the character he is playing. The same can be said of the younger Robert Duvall.
And sorry, I don't think I can judge female actors. I sense that many of the great ones were before my time. But I would put Vivian Leigh on any list of the best. I am not moved by Merryl Streep. I think she is more intellectual in preparation than say a Julia Roberts who can emote anything. Meryl Streep is one who learns accents well, learns to do Irish step dancing, etc to prepare for roles, but can you imagine her trying to play some of the characters Julia Roberts has played? The movies would bomb.
on July 10, 2002
Castaway was a journey into one person's ability to survive. You can take all the special effects of the plane crash and either like them or hate them, but the main theme of this movie is survival. I think that Hanks was brilliant in his role as a Fed Ex worker that must learn to live on a deserted island. The one drawback is that we do not get to see the full progression of this. We see him first struggling to live on the island and eat food, and then jump years later to see he has mastered island life. Some people might find the silence and lack of dialogue on the island as boring, but I think it is to give the audience the sense of isolation that Hanks' character is feeling. The great thing about this movie is that it makes one examine themselves if they were in a similar predicament. I think if you overexamine the special effects and the "unbelievability" of Hanks being able to survive a plane crash, then you may be disappointed. I think examining the movie as a whole and understanding its message or theme will make it more enjoyable. I thought it was well produced.
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 June 15, 2002
Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump), Castaway is the story of Chuck Noland, a man who lives his life by the clock, doing his job as a courier, whose life is changed when a plane trip to see his family turns into a struggle for survival. Tom Hanks reunites with director Zemeckis after Forrest Gump and gives another amazing performance, alongside his co-star, Wilson, a vollyball that gets washed up in the wreckage from the plane crash. And this is where Hanks' brilliant performance shows, with the slowly building friendship that Chuck has with his vollyball buddy.
Zemeckis' direction is strong and well-handled when events are on the island; witness Chuck's discovery of the dead pilot, his attempts to start a fire, and a truly wincing moment where he does some DIY dentistry. The fact that Hanks can hold his own as the only guy on the island for two hours (albeit with Wilson) is a true testimony of his unique talent.
The problem is, once the film gets to the end, events get tiresome, where we are greeted with far too much exposition , and after a while, you start to get somewhat weary of the over-wrought sentiment. But it's at sea where the magic is, and despite it's flaws, it is an impressive adventure.
on June 15, 2002
Cast Away is a movie that makes you take stock. What if all the stuff we're used to in our lives vanished tomorrow? What would we do if we were cut off from everything we know--all our comforts, all of our routines, and even the slightest human contact?
This movie deals with all of these questions while at the same time doing away with the "stranded in a tropical paradise" cliche.
Cast Away is also a very fine movie. Tom Hanks is the finest of actors. His work with Robert Zemeckis will no doubt set standards for an actor/director duo that will be hard to even approach. Hanks must carry this picture all by himself for well over half of the screen time. That he does so with seeming ease is not only a credit to him as an actor, but is also the mark of a truly great director.
This DVD version of the movie is very attractive. A double disc package, it does not skimp on extras as some movies (Harry Potter comes to mind here) have. The best parts are the feature on survival techniques, a Charlie Rose interview, and the story of Wilson.
Zemeckis' commentary is also a big, big plus. There is so much more to this movie than what meets the eye. The commentary helped me catch a lot of things I would have otherwise missed.
I give Cast Away my wholehearted recommendation.