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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 29, 2012
Cast Away (2000)
Drama, 143 minutes
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks was probably the biggest box office draw for around 10 years, starting with Philadelphia in 1993. Like Meryl Streep, his performances haven't always won the awards they deserved. We expect excellence from Hanks and Streep, and it's never easy to add an Oscar after you have already won twice. Cast Away sees Hanks give one of his best performances, and that's saying a lot.

The opening part of the film introduces us to the life of Chuck Noland (Hanks). He works for FedEx and is obsessed with time. Everything has to happen according to schedule or he considers himself a failure. Noland is in love with Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt), but his life is too busy for him to make her his main priority. They have to exchange Christmas gifts in the car on their way to the airport because he doesn't make time for anything more significant. This is a common theme in the lives of too many people. We rush around, earning as much money as we can, barely slowing down long enough to spend time with the people we love. You don't miss it until it's gone.

Noland's plane crashes and he's the sole survivor. He manages to swim ashore and finds himself alone on an island. This isn't a new idea, but the execution is excellent. Noland is used to a comfortable life and has to learn how to survive in his new surroundings. Where will he live? What will he eat? Will he need to protect himself? What if he's ill or in pain? How will he remain sane? How will he escape and make his way back to civilization?

I enjoy Cast Away because it's such a peaceful movie. All we hear are natural sounds while Noland is trapped on the island. There isn't even any musical score during this extended sequence. It helps us realize what it is like to be completely alone. How would we adapt and survive? Would we have the mental strength to seek escape? It's an examination of how human beings think, and that always appeals to me.
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on August 3, 2014
Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis renew (at the time, that is)...

After Forrest Gump, it took 8 long years before the duo teamed up again for something quite different but which would be just as powerful and poignant.

In the hands of lesser directors and actors, the film would have crumbled under such high pressure: an actor alone on a deserted island with next to no dialogue, and a script that could undo it all if not handled perfectly.

To both ends, Cast Away is a brilliant success. Hanks proves most capable to endorse anything thrown at him and Zemeckis handles the material with grace without becoming ever too graphic or too exploitive. A tough act to balance, Cast Away has its mixture of comedy, drama, suspense and many heartbreaking scenes.

The film may already be 12 years old, but slightly dated effects do not drown its ever important message.

The second disc is worth a watch for all its special features do not appear on the blu-ray and it doesn't look like it ever will.
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on January 6, 2004
Having just watched this movie for the first time, I have to admit that it was more entertaining than I had been led to believe. It is, of course, not a unique theme (what is nowadays?) in that it the story of a modern, successful corporate cog who is suddenly and unexpectedly forced to deal with a situation that requires him to learn anew how to survive. During the course of which, he naturally is forced to reassess his own worldview as he no longer exists in an environment over which he has control. I found the symbolism in this movie to be quite significant and relevant. But overall the movie was not as profound and authentic as it could have been. In fact, even with my limited knowledge of the subject, it is quite clear that the island could not have sustained any human life over the course of four years. Interestingly enough, although license was taken in terms of the feasability of Chuch's survival on an isolated ecosystem, the producers had no problem in casting him as the employee of an actual courier company. We could well have gotten the point of this movie had they devised a superficial company, which makes the movie in essence a three hour commercial.
(In regards to the previous review concerning the package. I believe that he returned it to the person who had SENT it, hence the angel-wings on the box--the symbolism of which is obvious enough.)
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on December 26, 2003
Major criticisms...1] the protagonist was not initially likable, nor was his love interest engaging [no pun intended]...why does Hollywood do this? Intelligent, well educated [not necessarily formally], honorable individuals are so much more interesting than nerds...and therefore more gratifying and rewarding to identify with. The challenges on the island would tax even a sagacious survivalist. 2]the Wilson thing was misplaced, even for a nerd...the island undoubtedly had insect life, therefore bird life. An orphaned baby bird out of the nest, for instance, would have offered the magic and mystery of a pure personality to care and provide for, which, if lost at sea, would have been truly tragic...albeit much more difficult to film.
Minor complaints...1]Hitting the water at ~250 miles an hour would have thrown Chuck forward, not back...he should have braced himself against something for impact. 2]The minutia of survival could have been educating and fascinating. 3]Trying to knock out an endodontically ravaged upper molar with the given vector would have broken the tooth off at the gumline...and left the offending roots intact. 4]Most importantly, the last time we see the Helen Hunt character should have been the scene at the airport...the subsequent scenes were manipulative, maudlin, and over played. I wish we had spent more time with the "civilized" Chuck...with even less dialogue...solitude IS civilizing.
Compliments...Silvestri's score is magnificent and well good as it gets...also the cinematography at sea. The final fade out and ambiguity is brilliant, ranking the ending as one of my dozen or so favorites {Vertigo,,Wild Bunch,Lady Jane,The Conversation,Breaker Morant,Silent Running, In The Bedroom,Mr.Roberts instantly come to mind].
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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.
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on July 6, 2003
Chuck Noland is an obnoxious executive for Federal Express. His plane goes down and he ends up on a rock in the middle of the ocean. For no apparent reason, he survives.
I found this film to be annoying in the extreme. I felt no sympathy for the character, whom I thought Hanks overplayed to the point of bathos. Even allowing for a state of shock, he was so incredibly stupid on his arrival on the island that I can't believe he lived two minutes, let alone four years. He wasted energy running around to no purpose. It was days before he looked for food or water, or started a fire. And didn't Mr. Noland ever read any adventure books as a child? Even I know that you can make a fire with flint and steel much more easily than with a fire drill. I also ask myself what he was DOING for those four years, that he didn't manage to make himself a sail with any of the materials to hand. Didn't he experiment?
In addition to the main character's being just clueless, the score was repetetive and irritating, with swelling chords at the expected moments. The visuals were fraught with heavy and obvious symbolism. And every emotional moment was so overdone that I laughed when I was supposed to be so very moved.
There were only two good things about this movie: It kept me out of the hundred degree heat and I didn't have to pay to see it.
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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.
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Cast Away is just an amazing cinematic achievement. You don't just watch this movie; you really have to devote an entire night to it; it's just that powerful and moving. At almost two and a half hours in length, it is uncommonly long in and of itself (but it does not feel long to the enthralled viewer); figure in all of the incredible special features included in the 2-disc special edition, and you are looking at a whole night's worth of rich entertainment. Cast Away has just about everything you could want in a movie: romance, adventure, action, heartbreak, suspense, mystery, nature at its most ugly and most beautiful, you name it; most importantly, it manages, after several cathartic moments, to leave one with a sense of hope and a strange kind of joy. Tom Hanks takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride, and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for making this film work as perfectly as it does. There really isn't a lot of dialogue during the time on the island; long drawn-out moments focus on Hanks' expression, body language, and emotion. When he finds a friend to talk to in Wilson, he makes that character really come alive and become a very real character in the film.
Don't think that this is just another Robinson Crusoe remake. Chuck Noland (Hanks) is an obsessive, deeply committed system engineer for FedEx. Everything for him must be planned and executed according to the limits of time, and so he is truly a duck out of water when his plane goes down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and leaves him stranded all alone on a deserted island. Time is meaningless for him here, but he has a picture of the woman he loves with him to help him go on living when it would be so easy to just give up. He learns to survive on his own in the tropical environment, but not without much pain and battles with hopelessness. When the situation threatens to overwhelm him, the character of Wilson comes along. Wilson is a volleyball, but he has a face framed with Chuck's own blood and becomes the personification of the world of people he longs to return to. After four years on the island, Wilson is a true companion whom Chuck talks to, argues with, but dearly loves as a very real friend. The escape attempt from the island is very powerful, containing within itself more important truths and examples of the human spirit than I can name. It is also where the first tears begin to well up in my eyes. You might expect this type of film to end with a long-overdue rescue and return to a happy life, but in Cast Away, the real human drama is just getting started at this point. Chuck's return home to his friends and the woman he loves is so much more than bittersweet; having seemingly lost everyone and everything he cared for four years earlier, his miraculous return becomes another tale of great loss. This movie is a real tear-jerker; just when you think it's time to rejoice, you are met with more poignant heartbreak. Hope never dies, though, and the writers do a tremendous job of subtly presenting that heart-warming message.
I love Wilson; he is such a great character that, volleyball or not, I think he should have been nominated for a best supporting actor award. Amazingly, he really slipped into the movie by accident, yet much of this movie's power is conveyed through him. The inclusion of a featurette on the life and death of Wilson on the second DVD is a testament to his importance to this story. This second DVD is filled with an incredible selection of bonus features: features on the making of the film, its special effects, and a look at the beautiful and bonafide island paradise location of the filming; there is an interview of Tom Hanks by Charlie Rose, a survivalist documentary, and a movie-length commentary as well. You can't ask more from a movie than Cast Away gives you, and you can't ask for more from a DVD than this two-disc special edition delivers.
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on April 6, 2003
This is a good popcorn movie, but it's far from the epic some people seem to think it is. Problems:
1. The unbelievable excess of product placement re: Fed Ex.
2. Hanks is a likeable actor, but not a great actor. (Come on: how much talent does it take to do his screaming and kicking frustration bit when he cuts his hand? Or to sob for his lost buddy Wilson?)
3. The ending was quite disappointing; instead of finding out what happened to him immediately after his rescue, and his reintroduction to civilization, we get a hackneyed reunion with Helen Hunt (who will apparently spend the rest of her life pining for Chuck and being unhappy in her marriage).
4. Overdone irony. Okay, I can believe a friend of Chuck's might unthinkingly say "We'll have to catch up on our fishing!". But are we really supposed to believe anyone would have ordered sushi and crab legs for his welcome home party?
5. One of my first thoughts upon seeing this movie a few years ago is that no one would have left any of the packages unopened. I joked with a friend, "What if there had been a satellite phone in the box?". Then somebody finally made a commercial with the same point!
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on April 2, 2003
This is one of my top ten favorite movies. Of interesting note is the fact that at first I didn't like it. I hated it for a time. When I walked out of the theater I was like "What was in the package" and "That was weak". The first statement is a silly and unecessary question, the latter is just an outright lie, now. The one thing I took away from that first viewing was the unique plot device that was Wilson. My fascination with this came a while later. On a happenstance the MTV movie awards paired a clip with a snippet of Green Day's "Castaway". Now mentioning Green Day won't get you instant acceptance in my book, but it will get you a second chance. So, I watched it again, and again, and again. A certain premium movie channel was very helpful in that respect. In brief, it is enough to say that I fell in love with it. The relationship with Wilson is simply brilliant. In addition, there is something real about this movie. Tom doesn't end up making a palace of reeds or getting back with Helen Hunt once he returns. No, he survives using his senses and items from the downed plane. This movie is a great lesson in overcoming functional fixedness! But another pivotal thing is the fact that he does not renew his relationship once he returns. Instead of idealizing the situation and having him have a fairy-tale reunion, he must deal with the very real fact that she has moved on. A thoroughly realistic storyline and a unique view into the human psyche under immense stress make this a truely original and moving movie.
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