I wonder what I would do if I was on an island for a whole year.
After FedEx systems engineer Chuck Noland’s (Tom Hanks) plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean, he finds himself fighting to survive on a deserted island with nothing but a painted volleyball — a silent partner he names Wilson — for company.
Director Robert Zemeckis is known in today’s world as the guy who can’t get enough of that weird-ass CGI with such movies as Beowulf, A Christmas Carol, and most recently Mars Needs Moms. But it’s always great to see what this guy can do when he’s given real-life people, or for this matter, one real-life person.
Zemeckis does a great job with the overall feel and tone of this story. He uses no music whatsoever and uses the sounds of the ocean breeze, to give us this huge sense of alienation that Chuck is going through as well. There are also longs periods of time where there is barely any language spoken at all, and it really does work because you feel like you are right there with him, stranded on this unknown island. The cinematography is also so beautiful to look at, as there are moments where I could not take my eyes off the screen because I was so amazed of what I saw.
However, I think the main problem with this film is that it’s pace will have some viewers checking out their watches many times throughout. There are long strains of time where there is no dialogue, and sometimes people will find themselves a little bored with everything that’s going on. I know moments in this film had me more fascinated than others, but I know this film will have many viewers most likely snoozing.
I liked the fact that the minimalist screenplay does a good job of portraying the human will to survive and how its tone is actually very unique, but my main problem with this script is how it’s resolved. I don’t want to give away too much but there’s a certain element to this story that opens and closes the film which actually is pretty weak compared to what they could have done with the story. Again, I can’t give too much away but when the film is over, I think you’ll know what I’m talking about.
The real show to watch here is the always amazing, Tom Hanks. A lot of the film is spent just watching him go about his days on the island, and all of it is so great because Hanks just is a presence that cannot be taken away no matter who else is around him. Hanks is so familiar to everybody, yet he loses himself in this character and we really do sympathize with him through this long adventure on the island all alone. But let us all not forget everybody’s favorite volleyball, Wilson. I must say watching Hanks having a conversation with this volleyball made me laugh, and at parts had me actually believe that he could actually be having a conversation with this thing. Helen Hunt also shows up and is just OK, but that’s how she usually is in most films.
Consensus: Many moments will put viewers to sleep with it’s slow pace, and bother others with it’s crappy ending, but Cast Away showcases Tom Hank’s amazing skills as an actor, and provides a smart directing job from Zemeckis.