Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Set Adrift: "Cast Away" (2000)

Yes, yes, yes, Tom Hanks lost forty pounds to play a man marooned on an island for four years. It is too bad the director did not put that much effort into making a better movie.

This is one of those films that you like when the end credits roll, then wake up in the middle of the night and wonder why you suddenly dislike it. I'm skipping the plot and going right into the complaining, and tons of spoilers:

Why does Zemeckis insist on using special effects for the most mundane scenes? I thought the Oscar winning effects for "Forrest Gump" were lousy. The scene I am talking about is an obvious CGI fish swimming in the water before getting speared by Hanks, who is dramatically thin after four years. Why the effect? A fake fish on string would have been more realistic.

What I disliked most about this film was the missed opportunities. Where was the scene where Hanks gets on the boat and explains his appearance? His reaction to loud noises after being on a tropical island alone? His reaction to getting back on a plane after going down in a plane at the beginning of the film? His inability to drive a car after four years of not being able to? I also would have liked to see Hanks gradually get used to island life. Instead, he stumbles around like Gilligan, then we jump forward four years later where he looks like a caveman, and is an old pro at island life. Couldn't we see how he adjusts? We know he is going to be rescued, so we are left with muddled scenes regarding his reunification with love of his life Helen Hunt, who is better in this than "What Women Want."

Where is the emotional reuniting of the pair, instead of the strained meeting when he goes to their house? She still has all of his stuff from the unsuccessful search, and his car, and yet he must go to her.

I really did not like the ambiguous ending. Normally, ambiguous endings are the result of the film makers deciding to do something different than the Hollywood norm. Here, it just seems that no one knew how to end this. Having Hanks look back up the road where Lori White had driven is nice, but what was in the package he left at her door? Sure, he is at a crossroads emotionally as well as physically, but the film makers try to be mysterious by leaving him there. Do not take me through two and a half hours with this guy, then leave the both of us hanging on a dirt road in Texas. Closure, darn it!

I cannot recommend "Cast Away," despite the marketing and reputations of the cast and crew. (* *) out of five stars.