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Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks)
Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt)
Stan (Nick Searcy)
Jerry (Chris Noth)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis Written by William Broyles, Jr.

Rated PG-13 for intense action sequences and some disturbing images Running Time: 140 minutes Distributed by 20th Century Fox
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Cast Away is a great film about love and survival that resides on the shoulders of Tom Hanks. Chuck Noland (Hanks) is a FedEx system engineer, who travels to countries all around the world to help teach other FedEx couriers of their importance. Chuck’s life is mostly run and controlled by a beeper. His girlfriend, Kelly (Hunt), is the one person who tries to tone his schedule down so life won’t pass him by. On Christmas Eve, Chuck gets a page and must immediately depart to Asia. Kelly, unwanting of Chuck to leave during the holidays, comes to understand how important Chuck’s job is to him. On the flight over to Asia, Chuck’s plane hits a terrible thunderstorm. The plane abruptly crashes and leaves Chuck as the only survivor. He floats in a life raft on to a deserted island somewhere in the Pacific. He then turns into a survivalist by finding food and other things to live on. As the weeks go by, Chuck hopes each day that he will live to see Kelly once again.

Cast Away is one of the better blockbuster films to come out this year. Most all the aspects in the film work, but are highly overshadowed by the amazing acting in the film.

Though some people might disagree with me, but I found this film to be a total love story. Screenwriter William Broyles, Jr.’s script works, but I believe that it could have been thirty-forty minutes longer. His story is a total character sketch of Chuck Nolan, and he does a fine job of introducing, developing and changing his character. Some of the scenes are drawn out and a little long, which led me to wanting more out of the middle of the film. The prime example is that Chuck goes from being a couple weeks on the island to years on it. It was a huge gap that I though should have been filled in more. Nevertheless, Broyles’ script is thought out and well written. The writer also adds a purity of realism to the story. He doesn’t make Chuck a superman of survival; he shows how much an ordinary person would do in the given circumstances. The writer also doesn’t fall in the trouble of his complications for Chuck to be cliché. An example is that Chuck gets a deep cut in his leg from some coral. The focus then quickly goes to Chuck’s leg bleeding in the water, and then the character is seen bandaging the cut. A cliché trap that the writer could have fallen into was to maybe bring a shark in after smelling Chuck’s blood in the water, but he didn’t.

Director Robert Zemeckis for the most part does a fine job of directing Cast Away. With Hanks, he delivers a good one-two movie punch. Zemeckis direction in Cast Away isn’t overdone (like in Contact) or copy-cated (like in What Lies Beneath) as he has suffered from doing in the past. His direction is formidable and for the most part conservative with Hanks, the isolation and the survival tension. However, Zemeckis does still get excited for using special effects. In which, he uses many special effects to show the waves, storm, scenery and a couple of whales. I found one of the whale shots to be the cheesiest thing in this well-made film. The part I am referring to is when a whale pops out of the water and just stares at Chuck for about three seconds. However, this part is very brief and most people won’t even notice it, and it doesn’t hurt the film. I believe that Robert Zemeckis did a sufficient job of directing Cast Away, but he still suffers from a big problem that I noticed with this film and What Lies Beneath. Zemeckis gives away absolutely too much in both films’ trailers and previews. I knew all the secrets of What Lies Beneath by its revealing trailers and with Cast Away; I almost knew everything that would happen in this film as well. For you that have watch the previews of this film, you probably know what I am talking about. I would blame the marketing and advertising departments of the studios for this, but Zemeckis makes the final call of what goes into the trailers and previews. The film is still excellent by all means, but it is unfortunate that the whole film is shown in a two-minute trailer.

Tom Hanks has a good shot at winning another Oscar for his performance as Chuck Noland. Hanks is so naturally great with his eyes and gestures that he holds the attention of the audience through most of the film alone. The actor also lost fifty pounds through the production of Cast Away, Zemeckis stopped production for a year so the actor could lose the weight and grow a beard. Hanks is just phenomenal in this film and his performance just contributes to his already incredible resume. There are not many other actors in this film, but Helen Hunt is impressive as Chuck’s girlfriend Kelly. Hunt has been in three other films this fall, and even though Kelly is her smallest role of all the films, it is her best.

Cast Away is a film I highly recommend. I see audiences loving Hanks’ character, actions and most of all talent. Though trailers and ads give the film away, in some cases, see it any way, you will not regret it.

Report Card Grade: A-

Beastman’s Movie Reviews
Copyright, 2000 Joseph C. Tucker

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