Cast Away (2000)Rated PG-13 for intense action sequences and some disturbing images.
Starring Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Valerie Wildman, Geoffrey Blake, Jennifer Lewis.
Photo ©20th Century Fox. All rights reserved.
Awesome, As It Turns Out
Cast Away is an awesome movie.
I liked nearly everything about it. It flowed smoothly, it made me think and sympathize, and it wasn't boring in the least. It put me in awe, not only with the depiction of its story but also with Tom Hanks memorably skillful one-man show. All in all, it was a wonderful experience to watch the film.
The story is simple enough. A FedEx executive named Chuck Noland (Hanks), often obsessed with being on time and never separated from his beeper, needs to accompany one last delivery run before Christmas. He leaves behind the woman he loves and plans to marry (Helen Hunt), and promises to be right back. Of course, he can't keep the promise because the plane he is traveling in runs into a storm and plunges into the sea. Chuck is the only survivor of the crash, and he washes up on a deserted island. Thus begins his struggle to survive, physically and mentally, on the island.
It sounds like a depressing set-up to a possibly dreary and painful movie about trying to get through a seemingly hopeless situation without going insane, but credit the writers and director (Robert Zemeckis) for depicting the situation such that the audience never ceases to be curious about the surroundings and the environment and never ceases to feel at once thrilled and humbled by the grandness of nature. Chuck's time on the island is spent fulfilling the basic needs, such as looking for food, finding a place to sleep safely, and answering the call of nature. However, he also spends time learning to better cope with the situation, perfecting survival skills, and always thinking of a possible way off the island. All the activities he participates in are engaging. The audience feels uncomfortable for him and his pains, but at the same time they can feel his hope, share his excitement upon new discoveries, and can practically almost hear his thoughts. A device in the movie later literally allows the audience to hear his thoughts, and even that device is extremely clever and sympathetic.
This movie's publicity has been slightly marred by its rather unforgiveable trailer. In it, nearly every aspect of Chuck's discoveries and adaptation to the island is revealed and thusly ruined. Although the movie can still be incredibly enjoyable even after having seen the trailer (I saw the trailer before I saw the movie), it really is too bad that those who have seen the trailer can't get the full effect of many of the film's ingenuities. The feeling of wonder and awe is crucial to the mood that the movie tries to set; one can not help but feel a bit robbed of not being able to fully experience those feelings. A better trailer may have been merely an extended version of the teaser trailer, which ended with Chuck calling, "Hello? Anybody?" upon his arrival on the island. Even more unforgiveable is the fact that the trailer basically gives away much of the ending.
That said, I would suggest those who were fortunate enough to avoid the trailer to read this review no further than this paragraph. Overall, the movie is inspirational and hopeful. It contains scenes meant to make you well up with emotion, make you laugh uncomfortably in slight amusement, make you wonder if you could be able to do some of the things Chuck did without collapsing, make you look around you in awe of the world around you. It is great, and I wholeheartedly recommend seeing it.
My final thought will be about the end section of the movie. If I had any quibble about the movie, and it's a minor one, it's that the end section may have lasted longer than it should have, thus slightly wrecking the pacing of the movie for me. Chuck's time on the island is the memorable, meaty portion of the movie, yet its duration seems partially shortened by the fact that the movie takes its time wrapping up. Thinking back on it, I'm not sure if there was any way to better present the ending, given what events were supposed to occur in it and what ideas were meant to be presented in it. I guess, for me, I would have preferred leaving the movie with as many thoughts about the events on the island as possible, instead of having the events of the ending subtlely replace them. In its defense, though, the ending does pose certain philosophical thoughts and dilemmas that are worth thinking about. At its heart are still the essences of being a castaway, this time more in the mind and heart than in body. It's as solemn as the island section is grandiose, but it may have lasted a bit too long. Anyhow, as I said, it's a minor quibble. This movie is one that can and should be enjoyed by moviegoers anywhere, and that's the last thing I want to say.
©Jeffrey Chen, Jan. 17, 2001