|Cast Away (2000)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Saturday, 01 March 2008|
Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is a system operator consultant for FedEx. Constantly flying around the world to deal with efficiency problems, Noland rarely has time to have a personal life. Nonetheless, waiting for Noland at home in Memphis, Tennessee is the beautiful Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt). They are the couple of envy for all of their friends. So, naturally disaster must strike. In the case of this film, Noland's latest job assignment will tear him away from civilization for a lot longer than expected – 4 years.
Surviving the deviated-coursed, plane crash (an awesome scene that is suitable for surround sound demo material), Noland washes up on the shore of an uncharted island. He searches the island for any sign of life, but to no avail. Fortunately, some of the FedEx packages aboard the plane have washed up on shore along with Chuck. As a very organized person, he takes special care in collecting and sorting the packages. However, it doesn't take long to realize that the packages would serve him better by being opened. While not the sort of survival kit that you might hope for from FedEx packages, Chuck is able to make good use from each of the items.
Chuck spends much time trying to figure out how to get off the island, as we all probably would. He learns what it takes to make fire, how to cook crab, the health benefits (and drawbacks) of coconuts, and even befriends the most popular star of the film, Wilson. But, alas, after many failed attempts to escape and some medical issues, the film skips forward several years to Chuck's "settled in" period on the island.
Obviously, Noland eventually escapes back to civilization. In the spirit of life's little ironies, matters only get worse when he returns to his homeland, making him long to be back on the island, alone.
Robert Zemeckis is most definitely on the "movie director's of all-time list" in my opinion. With creations such as "Back to the Future", "Forrest Gump" "Romancing the Stone", "Contact", and "The Polar Express", he truly stands out. His use of the element of surprise is clever and always perfectly executed. The amount of respect and depth that he receives and demands from actors comes across extremely well onscreen.
Tom Hanks continues his streak as one of the top grossing actors of all-time with this film. While not an action film, it succeeded admirably as a summer blockbuster when it was released in theaters. Hanks dedicates himself to each and every one of his films. It takes a skilled actor to act with himself for nearly the entire film. There is no one conversing with you to play off of. It is just he, the island, and an inanimate Wilson volleyball.
For the most part, the video quality of this Blu-ray transfer is excellent. The original 2-disc DVD edition was regarded as one of the best film transfers at the time of its release. And, I can't believe I am saying this, but the original DVD (with a proper video upscaler) can actually look better at times than the Blu-ray. The Blu-ray transfer shines during the deserted island sequences. However, it lacks depth and cleanliness during the stateside sequences. The opening and closing scenes of the film are loaded with film grain, scratches, and other dust and dirt. Some vertical banding can even be seen in the blue sky. Needless to say, it made me very nervous when I first starting watching the film. But, when Chuck gets stranded on the island, the image is crispy clean and very lush and detailed. The depth to the colors is outstanding. My only criticism of the island sequences would have to be that the crystal blue water and waves at times appear a little pixilated. This is a very common occurrence on Blu-ray in water sequences. While, die-hard lovers of the film may choose to stick with the original DVD, the middle section of the film should not be missed on Blu-ray, as it is represented in full 1080p glory.
The sound of this film is a tricky one to examine. Not much happens for much of the film. There are no big blockbuster sound effects and explosions. Although, the plane crash is deserving of recognition. The thundering bass generated by the crash and the jet engine is incredible. Definitely make sure your sound system is calibrated properly for that sequence. You might even find yourself feeling like you are being sucked toward the sinking jet engine. Very intense. The rest of the film is typically dialogue. The voices are smooth and at proper levels for the most part. For the large part, ambience is well executed. The lapping of the waves can be heard in the distance, although, the ambience does drop out from time to time. This is not representative of the Blu-ray transfer. It also appears on the DVD. The sound is fairly solid on the whole.
The largest disappointment with this Blu-ray disc is the special features section. The originally DVD release contained 2 discs, and were loaded with featurettes and interviews. None of that is present on the Blu-ray edition. I would surely expect to see a Special Edition of this film on Blu-ray, rectifying the blundering mistake by Fox in this matter. The first special feature on this disc is an Audio commentary by cast and crew. However, these are just time specific snippets from external interviews spliced together. The next supplement is a Theatrical Trailer. Exclusive to the Blu-ray disc are a Trivia Track, Fox Promo Reel, Personal Scene Selections, and the Search Content feature. All special features can be skipped.
Many criticized the film for having a lack of dialogue (with a reported 100 minutes of the 143 minute feature being without dialogue). However, to those critics, I must say, if that is your criticism of such a terrific film, then you obviously wouldn't know a great film if it knocked up upside the head. This film gets a good solid recommendation.