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20th Century Fox
Official Site

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Tom Hanks, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey

Written by: William Broyles, Jr.

Cast: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Christopher Noth

Rating: out of 5

Robert Zemeckis has made almost as many classic films as Steven Spielberg. He's original, innovative and, most of all, he's not pretentious. His films aren't gritty or anything. They're just fun and interesting. Sometimes they're even pretty insightful. This is the guy who brought us the hip BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy and then made the witty and powerful FORREST GUMP.

In his latest, CAST AWAY, Zemeckis brings back two of his biggest stars-Helen Hunt and Tom Hanks. But make no mistake: This movie is Tom Hanks'. The two-hour-long survival flick is about two hours of just Tom and half that is without dialogue. This makes for a very different type of movie. Early this year, Zemeckis attempted to jump-start the suspense genre with WHAT LIES BENEATH (and ultimately created the most formulaic movie I've seen in a while). Here too he tries to cut a new path. The story isn't original and the preview seriously does give away almost everything that happens. Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) becomes stranded on a desert island when his plane crashes. He must survive to return to the woman he loves (Hunt). It's the filmmaking that's original here. You have to recognize just how fresh and interesting this work is. Zemeckis doesn't beat you over the head with gimmicks like TIME CODE or some artsy film. This is the real thing.

The acting is, like I said, all Tom Hanks. And he's really good. Hail to the King, for he has returned. After a few years of sleepwalking through roles in THE GREEN MILE and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, Hanks gives it his all and comes off perfectly. I didn't mind at all that he didn't talk for an hour. The directing and acting spoke millions of words. Helen Hunt is okay, but her Southern accent could have used some work. Everyone else is almost entirely unimportant.

The cinematography is beautiful, vibrant and fascinating. The entire movie is shot from Hanks' perspective (including the airplane wreck), which is quite impressive. Zemeckis isn't a dried-up director who's run out of tricks. There are plenty of trick shots to give even Sam Raimi a run for his money. It's really exciting to see such a solid film. If you pay attention, you can also pick up on quite a few themes and ideas, something rare for the modern blockbuster.

Now, of course, you're probably wondering by now, why didn't it get five stars. Well, the ending's a little lackluster. Bravo for not being shamefully Hollywood, but it was still sort of disappointing. Also the entire package-with-wings-drawn-on-it subplot confused me a little and the CG shots stuck out like a sore thumb. Still, it' s a definite must-see.

-Zack Schenkkan

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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