Best Movies of All Time + Tom Hanks


CAST AWAY2000-13

Cast Away is a 2000 dramatic film directed by Robert Zemeckis that centers around a man stranded on a deserted island. Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is a hardcore FedEx executive who's known for his all-business attitude in running his shipments. He's a bit of a stickler for remaining on schedule and can easily be said to be married to his job. This causes a little bit of a strain with his girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) as they constantly have to re-work their schedules in order to see one another. Such an event happens during a Christmas dinner, and Chuck takes a late flight towards Asia. However, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, the plane experiences turbulence and a massive explosive sends it spiraling into the sea below. Through a miraculous escape, Chuck finds his way to the surface in a life raft and slowly floats to a remote and deserted island. Chuck accepts his fate and does everything he can in order to survive.

I'd go into more detail in terms of Chuck's time on the island, but part of the experience of watching Cast Away is seeing just how he goes through that time. I don't want to throw too many spoilers out there, and the more I say, the more likely I am to give away the film's final resolution; ergo, I'm going to leave you with that. Now let's get into my actual review.

I'd like to start with the film's acting before I get into the screenplay because that bit could take a little while to talk about. Obviously, the acting centerpiece is the performance delivered by two-time Oscar-winner Hanks, who also garnered an Academy Award nomination for this particular role. Although I wasn't entirely impressed by the performance as a whole (his scenes away from the island are pedestrian at best), the stranded Chuck Noland is pitch-perfect and, considering that's the man we see for the majority of the film, Hanks can be deemed a success. He brings a subtlety to the role (that's definitely shown in the script - more on that momentarily) that you wouldn't necessarily expect with a man who's slowly going mad as a result of being away from civilization. Had this film been made closer to 2011, I wouldn't be surprised to see an over-the-top performance in the lead role rather than the one Hanks brings to the table. He's damn-near flawless when he's on the island, so kudos, good sir.

Because Hanks is the main person we see for at least ninety percent of the film, it's almost not worth mentioning the supporting work at all. However, we do have a decent performance from Oscar-winner Hunt, so I suppose she's worth noting here and now.

And now for the film's screenplay. Like Hanks' performance, I think the script works best while we're on the island. In fact, the film's execution on the island is so good that it probably would've worked perfectly on its own. Sadly, we're book-ended with some off-the-island moments that prove to be ridiculously cliché and much too cheesy and sappy. The off-the-island scenes were so bad that they almost ruined the film for me. Fortunately, the island was simply brilliant. Going into the film, I thought we'd be getting an in-depth look at Chuck's life on the island, chronicling his every movement and every emotion as he tried to figure out how he was going to survive. That's not what Cast Away gives us. Instead, we get a series of snippets of his life that doesn't really give the audience an opportunity to get too emotionally involved with Hanks' character. Normally, that wouldn't be a good thing, but here, it works perfectly. If they had shown every minute struggle he had to face, it would've been an overwhelmingly emotional flick. By showing the little moments without any real sense of segue from one scene to the next, the audience creates a bit of an emotional distance. That's not to say that the film isn't emotional - in fact, it has some extremely heart-wrenching scenes. However, because we're not getting the constant stream of emotion, the scenes of true emotion are all the more powerful because we're not really expecting them to happen. Because they're few and rather far in-between, the power of each of the scenes is truly punched home.

The island is where the film succeeds - everything else is excess fluff that keeps Cast Away from reaching the ranks of brilliance in my books. If they would've cut out the final thirty minutes of the film, this movie would easily have skyrocketed onto my list of greatest films of all time. Unfortunately, it falls just short of scratching that particular surface. Still, it's definitely worth a watch if you've got a little over two hours to kill.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: B+
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