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mdtinney's Movie Reviews (315)

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Cast Away 
Sappy ending keeps this movie out of top 25.
4/4 stars

Cast Away is one of the most thought-provoking films I've ever seen. It follows the events before, during, and after Fed-Ex employee Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks, in an outstanding performance) becomes stranded on a deserted island. Things are pretty dull until his plane inevitably crashes, when things become truly compelling. Hanks portrayal of Noland on the island is brilliant, capturing the terror and hopelessness that must be going through Noland's mind.

The moments on the island are truly great for several reasons. Most of our emotion comes from what we see rather than what we hear; Zemerickis wisely halts the score and lets us feel like we are helplessly deserted on a quiet island, completely isolated from the sounds of every day life, such as people talking, car doors slamming, phones ringing, and clocks ticking. This is a brilliant character study of what Noland does to keep himself alive, physically and psychologically.

When the island tidbits are over and Chuck returns home, things continue to mind boggle. How would people react if we unexpectedly returned four years later after being considered dead? What kind of position does this put Noland's fiance in? Although many of the details of Noland's life after the island are completely off and more crowd-pleasing, it is still compelling. Wouldn't Chuck be psychologically ruined after four years of human isolation?

The film is terrific until the last few scenes, which ruin the overall impact. Zemerickis tries to put together several painfully obviously hints at Chuck's future. The last shot alone, with Chuck looking at the "crossroads" and smiling at the camera is absolutely absymal. It is a terrible way to end what was a powerful and serious film, with a stupid little crowd-pleasing "things are looking up" conclusion tacked on.

The ending can be forgiven, and there is still no doubt that the island scenes are immensely powerful. They alone make this film one of the best of all time, and they make it well worth watching, if only to challenge us and make us think.


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