Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems engineer whose personal and professional life are ruled by the clock. His fast-
paced career takes him, often at a moment's notice, to far-flung locales - and away from his girlfriend Kelly.
Chuck's manic existence abruptly ends when, after a plane crash, he becomes isolated on a remote island - cast
away into the most desolate environment imaginable. Stripped of the conveniences of everyday life, he first
must meet the basic needs of survival, including water, food and shelter. Chuck, the consummate problem
solver, eventually figures out how to sustain himself physically. But then what? Chuck begins his personal
journey. After four years, fate gives Chuck a chance to fight his way back to civilization, only to find an
unexpected emotional challenge greater than all the earlier physical ones. His ability to persevere and to hope
are a product of his life-changing experience. Though the conclusion of Chuck's story may not be a conventional
Hollywood ending, it is, like life, full of truth, pain and promise.
For more about Cast Away and the Cast Away Blu-ray release, see Cast Away Blu-ray Review published by PeteR on December 8, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
At a lonely crossroads in the middle of nowhere, a lone FedEx truck stops at a small ranch to pick up a package. In an instant, to the package being offloaded and delivered to a man in Moscow, Russia. We then follow the delivery truck into a warehouse where FedEx engineer Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is admonishing the crew there about their lack of punctuality. He pulls out a clock from the box: it took over 87 hours to reach its destination, and that is unacceptable. After instructing them how to work faster, he gets on a flight back to the United States.
Back home in Memphis, Chuck is reunited with his girlfriend Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt), who is grateful to have him home in time for Christmas. During dinner with their extended family, he ducks the question of marriage from her relatives. The festivities are interrupted by Chuck's pager, calling him back to duty. Chuck has to immediately fly to Malaysia on a cargo jet, but Kelly is understanding and only insists he be back home for New Year's Eve. They exchange gifts in the car at the loading terminal, where Kelly gives him an antique watch with her picture inside. Chuck's gift, a small box, causes Kelly to become terrified. They promise to open it together on New Year's Eve.
Asleep during the long flight, Chuck is jostled awake by some minor turbulence. He checks on the cockpit: they have deviated off course to try to avoid a severe storm at sea. Before Chuck can safely buckle himself back into his seat, all hell breaks loose. Chuck is tossed around the cabin like a rag doll until the plane slams into the ocean at high speed, filling the cabin with water and splitting the plane in half. Chuck is able to inflate an emergency raft and rise to the surface, where a stormy sea and burning debris await him. Collapsing, his raft makes landing on a small island, where there is no human or animal life of any kind. There are no other survivors or useable items from the cargo jet, save for some packages that wash ashore. Alone and with few resources, Chuck has to use his intellect to find a way to survive, and escape his isolation.
When it absolutely, positively, has to be there...whenever.
Based upon an idea by Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemekis, Cast Away is a brilliant, unique film. The story of someone stranded on a deserted island is an old one, but Zemekis and writer William Broyles Jr. give it an original spin by approaching it as realistically as possible. There are no clichés, no improbable events to take you out of the reality created here. Hanks is excellent as Noland, and carries the burden of the entire film on his shoulders. With the sole exception of the first five minutes, we spend every second of the film with him. Hanks makes you care about him from the beginning. Sure, he's driven and imperfect, but we all have those flaws. We root for him to succeed and empathize with any setbacks. We feel every injury he sustains on the island, we understand the loneliness and isolation that he goes through. Hanks helps the audience experience what it is like for one of them to be in his place. There isn't anything about the performance that rings hollow. That Hanks was nominated for another Best Actor Academy Award is obvious.
Director Robert Zemekis proved, with films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump, that he could dazzle audiences without losing his characters as the primary focus; and he does so again here. If you are familiar with any of the background details that went into the making of this film, you would know how much of the reality had to be manipulated and processed by the production team. Yet Zemekis makes it so invisible to the viewer, that it's subtle and seamless. We are so involved with Hank's Chuck Nolan that we do not see the magic going on around him. Another accomplishment is that he keeps this film going at a good pace, you don't feel its nearly two and a half hour running time. In the hands of any other filmmaker, the story could have been a disaster that would have bored an audience to tears. How do you make a story about a man, alone on a tiny island, with few resources, with little dialogue, save for one way conversations with a volleyball, exciting? I don't know how, but Zemekis did it. Coupled with Forrest Gump, this film helps to prove that he and Tom Hanks are one of the best actor/director teams of this era.
When I initially saw this film theatrically in late 2000, I didn't know what to expect. What I found was a movie that was touching and thought provoking. Zemekis and Hanks amazed me. The filmmakers have crafted a terrific film that I can recommend to anyone.
The film is presented in its OAR of 1.85 (not 2.35 as labeled on the box) and is presented in 1080p encoded in MPEG4 AVC. The video is satisfying for the most part, but not as good as I expected. Some scenes are extremely grainy...a certain amount is expected (and welcome), but it makes the film seem a lot older than it is. Especially when you consider films like Forrest Gump or Contact that were filmed before this one seem to have a less grain. The early night scenes can be a touch soft, but this doesn't extend to the after hours scenes on the island. They were actually shot day for night and color corrected digitally. Fleshtones are natural, colors on the island are realistic without being exaggerated. The scene where Nolan tries to escape in the inflatable raft is a good example: the vivid blue of the sky contrasted with the dark blue of the water, the bright yellow raft, and the deep crimson of blood when Nolan spears his leg on the reef. You wince and feel his agony.
The image has no noticable artifacts (even during the scenes with storms or heavy surf) and there is no edge enhancement. A decent transfer.
An absolutely stupendous track. The audio is encoded in 5.1 lossless DTS-HD Master Audio and remains reference even considering it was issued in 2000. Sound Designer Randy Thom at George Lucas' Skywalker Sound has crafted a soundtrack that immerses the viewer from beginning to end. From the scream of a crashing jet plane, to the soft lap of water on the beach, every element is expertly recorded and placed precisely in the soundfield. Dialog is clear and natural, whatever ADR was necessary has been mixed so well you'd never know it wasn't recorded on location. Thom had his work cut out for him: he couldn't use insects, birds, or other tropical sounds typical of other films in this setting. The isolation of Hanks had to be extended to him aurally as well as visually. The soundfield remains active without these sounds, as an audience you feel just as isolated with no jarring effects to take the viewer out of the reality Zemekis creates. Of course, the plane crash sequence is dynamic and LOUD, with pounding LFE. You may want to watch that you don't blow your speakers, even on high end systems! Of course it makes a great demo…but another type of demo would be nearly any setting on the island where Nolan is sitting or walking on the beach. The quiet lapping water, the rustling of trees in the wind, the distant thunder of the surf crashing on the reef: it all serves to make the viewer part of the scene. The movie was rightfully nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound.
The film is also presented Dolby Digital (DD) 2.0 Surround in Spanish and French @224 kbps.
A disappointing disc as far as extras go, it's yet another Fox catalog title that was issued originally as a two disc special edition DVD, with this Blu-ray edition replicating the first disc and containing none of the extras from the second. I'm hoping the content was decided on earlier this year just before Fox stopped releasing BDs and went into the hibernation that didn't end until this past September. Some recent Fox catalog titles, such as The Fly, fully replicate the contents of their DVD SEs. For the price they are charging for this, it makes it tough to recommend based on value.
The disc contains the commentary from the DVD version, HD trailers, adds a trivia track and includes the Fox Blu-ray standard Search Content and Personal Scene Selections.
Commentary (feature length): Director Robert Zemekis, Director of Photography Don Burgess, Visual Effects Supervisor Ken Ralston, Co-Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, and Sound Designer Randy Thom were all recorded separately and edited together for this track, Zemekis is the primary speaker but the technical crew speak up whenever one of their showcases is on screen. Zemekis gives a lot of terrific information and has lots of praise for Tom Hanks. Burgess gets into the nuts and bolts of the photography, but by far some of the most fascinating tidbits are given by Ralston and Thom. Ralston has worked with Zemekis since Back to the Future and reveals a lot of the trickery that they used to convincingly not only to crash a plane, but how the island was digitally altered to seem even more isolated, and how a few shots in the beginning turned a backlot into a Moscow street. Thom talks about his task to keep everything sounding absolutely real, with no exaggerations that could take you out of the film. One last bit of info: Zemekis *hates* test audiences! Apparently this movie tested terribly, yet went on to be a big success in general release. Overall, it's a fascinating track and a must listen.
Trivia Track (Feature Length): Pop up trivia boxes that supplement the commentary with information on the production. It is accessible through the menu or subtitle #5. Exclusive to the Blu-ray version.
Fox on Blu-ray (various): Trailers for Cast Away, The Devil Wears Prada, Kingdom of Heaven, Men of Honor, and Night at the Museum. All are presented in 1080p encoded MPEG4 AVC with DD 5.1 @448kbps.
Cast Away remains an effective, unique, and moving film seven years after its release. The amazing performance by Tom Hanks plus the wizardry of director Zemekis and his crew have lost nothing over this past decade. It's one of those films that will be a classic, as timeless as being stranded alone on a deserted island. The video is very good, and the audio is exceptional. My only complaint is Fox's continuing habit of issuing their catalog titles without the extras of the previous special edition DVDs. This hurts the overall grade a bit.
Because of the importance of the film, and the upgrade in sound and picture, I am recommending this Blu-ray disc, with the added caveat to those who have the 2 disc SE to hang on to the second disc of extras.
Fox and MGM have revealed 29 upcoming Blu-ray releases. Included are 19 catalog titles from Fox and MGM, and 10 new release titles to be sold day-and-date with their DVD releases. These titles include 'Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer' and 'Live Free or ...