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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 5/21/01

Cast Away
Special Edition 2-disc set - 2001 (2001) - 20th Century Fox

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Cast Away Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A+/A+/A+

Specs and Features

Disc One: The Film
143 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, THX certified, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:10:54, in chapter 17), audio commentary track (with director Robert Zemeckis, director of photography Don Burgess, visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston, co-visual effects supervisor Carey Villegas and sound designer Randy Thom), THX Optimode test signals, animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects, scene access (32 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 EX, 3.0 & DTS 6.1 ES) and French (DD 3.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

Disc Two: Supplements
NR, full frame (1.33:1) and letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), Amaray keep case packaging, single-side, dual-layered (no layer switch), HBO First Look: The Making of Cast Away featurette, S.T.O.P.: Surviving as a Cast Away, The Island and Wilson: The Life and Death of a Hollywood Extras "behind-the-scenes" featurettes, 5 special effects vignettes (with commentary by visual effects supervisors Ken Ralston and Carey Villegas), production photo gallery, 3 storyboard galleries, 6 conceptual artwork galleries, 4 illustration and storyboard galleries, Tom Hanks interview from The Charlie Rose Show, 2 theatrical trailers, 10 TV spots, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles, none

Tom Hanks is Chuck Nowland, a work-a-day executive with Federal Express whose "every minute is money" mentality is challenged when he finds himself marooned on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He spends four years surviving instead of living, and, when given the chance to get off the island, must come face to face with what he's left behind... and the person he's become in the years since.

It's no secret that Hanks gets off the island, but the trick is in the how, so I'm going to leave the story summary to what I've said above. I liked Cast Away. It's hard not to like a film where Hanks plays Hanks, and gets to be by himself for a good portion of the film with nothing but waves crashing on the soundtrack. To give us another character to root for, we also get the mysterious "Wilson", who eventually joins Hanks and helps him deal with the crushing loneliness. Robert Zemeckis, who works as well with actors as he does with his visual effects supervisors, directs Hanks for the second time since Forrest Gump and they're a great team. If you haven't checked Cast Away out yet, give it a try.

This is a 2-disc set and pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about the film is here for you to ponder. The film and sound quality on Disc One, where the movie is located, is exquisite. The colors are rich, the grain is tight and the detail is spot on. It's a great transfer. The sound is available in Dolby Digital EX 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 surround and a full-blown DTS ES 6.1 track. They all sound great, with the edge in quality going to the DTS track, which is very natural and blew the walls of my home during the plane crash sequence. Need a reference scene? There it is. Also on Disc One is a commentary track with Zemeckis and his video and audio magicians. After listening to this commentary, you'll come to realize very quickly that they could have shot this thing in my living room and it would have looked exactly the same - I'm not kidding. Why they needed to go to an actual island is a mystery. Maybe it was to capture images of the beach and the sun, because pretty much everything else was added digitally. You will be shocked and amazed.

The extras on Disc Two start with an HBO First Look entitled, ironically enough, The Making of Cast Away. It's your standard fare, with nice talking-head interviews and production footage. Using leftover interview material, we also get 3 production featurettes: S.T.O.P.: Surviving as a Cast Away, The Island and Wilson: The Life and Death of a Hollywood Extras. They're pretty self-explanatory. S.T.O.P. focuses on the research writer William Broyles Jr. went through to get the story right. The Island is about the island location itself and the production crew. And the final featurette is about the above-mentioned "Wilson" character. There are also 5 special effects vignettes, with audio commentary by visual effects supervisors Ken Ralston and Carey Villegas. They show you how some of the scenes were built, starting with the various production plates on through the digital animation process. It's a neat look inside the magic hat. There's also a "behind-the-scenes" photo gallery with production photos, 3 storyboard galleries, 6 conceptual artwork galleries and 4 illustration and storyboard galleries. Also here for your enjoyment are The Charlie Rose Show interview with Tom Hanks, 2 theatrical trailers and a selection of 10 TV spots. You'll spend about a day going through everything, believe me.

Cast Away is a pretty cool flick, made even cooler on DVD by a stockpile of seemingly endless extras. You'd probably have to be stranded on a deserted island to have the time to look at everything packed on this thing. But, if you love the magic of movies, I think you'll find it worth the time.

Todd Doogan

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