Invulnerable Tom Hanks puts hit foot in untested waters and ends up walking across it. Cast Away marks yet another well done Hanks film, as he portrays a FedEx employee who is stranded on a deserted island for four years and forced to survive on his own.
The movie starts out just like any other could, with Hanks showing off how stringent he is on deadlines. He meets up with his girlfriend (Helen Hunt) who is on the verge of becoming engaged to him, and then he says the line he should never say: "I'll be right back."
From this point on we are taken on an extraordinary journey. The plane crash scene is suspenseful and realistic. Then Hanks arrives on the island and we watch as he adapts to his surroundings and learns how to survive, and keep from going crazy. He learns how to open coconuts, make fire, and turn a volleyball into a friend he can talk to.
Hanks really doesn't talk too much during this portion of the movie, but his physical adaptation is important, and we see it. Hanks lost sixty pounds in a year to make the second half of the movie as believable as possible, and it works. He has a lot of challenges, like catching fish, and suffers a lot of brutal injuries, all the while keeping the movie away from the cheesiness of pirates showing up at some point, him finding stolen treasure, or a beautiful bimbo washing up on shore.
The impressive scenery of the island and the way Hanks looks and acts throughout the film is essential to it becoming a success, and like so many movies in the past he pulls it off easily.
But when Hanks returns to the United States four years later, Cast Away begins to show its fatigue, as it fails to make a powerful impression on our minds, or draw much emotion at all. Some might say it is unconventional and unconventional is original, but I think it disconnects the audience and will likely cause it to lose Oscar nods. The ending handles everything poorly, such as showing how Hanks feels when he is actually picked up, when he meets all his old friends, when he is reintroduced to society, and especially how he relates to his old flame Helen Hunt. This scene, which makes up most of the ending, is not well done at all.
Cast Away is an excellent movie, right up until the end. The end just doesn't have the emotional impact people expect and want, and that's the only reason why it might not be considered as one of the best movies of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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