Cast Away (2000) Review

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Cast Away (2000): 9 out of 10: Tom Hanks is a FedEx manager who, after his cargo flight to Malaysia crashes in the Pacific Ocean, finds himself stranded on a deserted island.

The Good

The Good: You would think the silent moments on the island without dialogue and with only one actor would drag, but they don’t. Director Robert Zemeckis has a lot of neat little touches in this movie, and the way both he and Hanks make the island scenes so watchable is amazing.

I love love love the ending. It seems so realistic and the emotions are so raw. Honestly, I know we are trying to paint Tom’s character as a nice guy who is doing the right thing and there is a kid involved, but I am not sure. With the wisdom of twenty years since I saw the film, I now don’t believe he and Helen Hunt made the right choice at the end. I have seen what the tide can bring in. Hanks of all people should know it is often a broken porta potty.

What I find fascinating is that my opinion of his choice has changed over the last twenty years. What is it about me and my understanding of love that has caused me to grip so tightly? Is it the rarity of a good woman, even one who has been broken by fate as Hunt’s character has? The ending is a bittersweet and in reality tragic… wistful Tom Hanks looking into the crossroads to uplifting music, notwithstanding.

While everyone rightfully praises Tom Hanks acting I think Robert Zemeckis’ direction is an even bigger factor in the movie’s success. The way he buries themes and Chekhov’s guns all throughout the film in a seamless manner is a masterclass. He is not afraid of letting something just be on the screen and let the audience figure it out later.

The Bad

The Bad: What is it with the music in this film. The soundtrack behaves itself during the entire island sequence, then during an emotional scene in the ocean it swells up like a lunatic, drowning out Tom Hank’s incredible performance. It also irritates during some closing scenes. We do not need you. Go away film score. (I would note that the score itself by Alan Silvestri is perfectly fine, it is simply not needed.) The movie should have stuck to the licensed songs that it uses quite well.

The Ugly

The Ugly: What the hell happened to FedEx… the movie in a lot of ways is an infomercial for FedEx (plane crash notwithstanding) here we are twenty years later (That can’t be right… does simple math… Oh god we are all so old) and the company is a bit of a train wreck. The FedEx of 1995 (When the beginning of the movie is set) or of 2000 does not seem to exist anymore. Is it because Tom Hanks character is now doing motivational speeches and is no longer systems analyst for the company?

You know the movie’s characters say if we don’t do this we will end up like the United States Post Office. Honestly FedEx, at this point you should be so lucky. FedEx’s market share has dropped since 2000, and it seemingly is behind even the post office in technology. (Just try using FedEx’s website compared to its competitors).

Of course if FedEx didn’t pay its average employees 80% of what UPS and the USPS pay its workers maybe they could attract better workers who can actually ring a doorbell or just don’t mark the order as no one is home when clearly someone was home all day… Not that I am bitter or anything.

Also, while Tom Hanks speech to his Russian workers at the beginning of the film is good movie management speech making. It is in reality horrible actual management. If you are constantly in a crunch time situation, you are not managing your company very well, Tom. I know it is the holiday rush and all but yelling and talking down to your workforce in the middle of the shturmovshchina isn’t going to have the effect you want it to. This is a movie version of the business world. Do not try this at home.

The Even Uglier

The Even Uglier: The infamous Cast Away trailer that gives away every single plot point of the movie. Read any contemporaneous review of the film and be prepared for an earful. As someone who despises movie trailers that give away the entire plot, the Cast Away trailer is patient zero… hold on that’s not right. The Cast Away trailer is the most terminal case… nope, still not right. Fine, the Cast Away trailer is the worst one ever. (Stupid brain can’t think of fun phrasing). You can blame the movie’s marketing department all you want, but apparently director Zemeckis is the idiot behind this, as is well documented by Roger Ebert in his review.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: If you haven’t seen Cast Away since 2000 definitely give it another watch. Time has been very kind to this movie (The plane crash scene is still one of best I have ever seen.) The movie’s little touches stand out more upon a second viewing. Tom Hanks performance is still incredible. A really well made and entertaining film.

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[…] After the rescue helicopter crashes, he has new supplies (The crashed helicopter breaks all Hollywood convention by not blowing up in a big orange fireball) and a new friend. Well, a lady (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) who doesn’t speak English and goes in and out of a coma and honestly whose role could have been played by a store mannequin or a painted volleyball. […]

[…] 9 Souls. But if this is the first review of mine, you are reading try another one. I just wrote a Cast Away review that is […]

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“Also, while Tom Hanks speech to his Russian workers at the beginning of the film is good movie management speech making. It is in reality horrible actual management. If you are constantly in a crunch time situation, you are not managing your company very well, Tom. I know it is the holiday rush and all but yelling and talking down to your workforce in the middle of the shturmovshchina isn’t going to have the effect you want it to. This is a movie version of the business world.” Exactly this. I have run large commercial kitchens and it’s a bitch.… Read more »