20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Geoffrey Blake
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Special Effects Vignettes, Photo Galleries, Trailers and TV Spots, and much more
Chuck Nolan (Tom Hanks) is a FedEx executive who is jetting around the world to streamline operations in even the most remote places of the world to ensure timely delivery of all FedEx packages. A person that is living by the clock and drives on schedules, Chuck has little time for his private life in-between, but he loves his girlfriend Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt) all the more.
On trip to the other end of the world on day, Chuck’s plane crashes in the middle of the ocean and as the sole survivor, he strands on a remote island with nothing but a torn inflatable boat and a number of flotsam FedEx packages.
The most amazing thing about "Cast Away" is how well-paced the movie is. Running 140 minutes, you will never have the feeling the film is slow or dragging. Time is simply flying by as we watch in fascination how a person that is so utterly depending on a regulated schedule is thrown into a world where none of his values matter. It is fascinating to see how he copes with it, and how faint boyhood memories help him survive in a wilderness he was never prepared for. Hanks does an amazing job going through this transformation and on top, delivers a top performance bringing out the emotional strength that his character retrieves from the love he has for his girlfriend.
The DVD features a great 5,1 channel <$DD,Dolby Digital> EX, as well as a <$DTS,DTS> ES audio track, both of which are extremely well produced. Differences between the tracks are marginal, although noticeable, especially in the more aggressive use of the additional rear center channel of the mixes. The track is extremely dynamic and scenes like the plane crash, or the industrial bustling atmosphere in the film’s beginning are showing, how well integrated many of the sound effects are. At the same time the use of ambient sound effects in the surrounds during the island part of the film is remarkably realistic and rich, creating an atmosphere in which you can almost feel the breeze surrounding you and the rain splattering in your face. Despite its obvious restraints, for its natural reproduction of the ambience, this part of the sound production is actually much more impressive than the flashier parts with the big booms. Dialogue is also very well integrated and always clear and understandable.
"Cast Away" is a rare gem in this day and age in that it uses a minimalist score. There are only a few select scenes in which an orchestral score has been employed. The majority of the film – and some of the most dramatic and emotional moments – are achieved completely without music, replacing the orchestra with a well-balanced cacophony of sound effects instead. This is clearly one of the most restrained and effective soundtracks in modern cinema.
On the second disc you will find a large number of video-based supplements, in the form of a series of featurettes and documentaries. The center-piece is the 24-minute HBO First Look featurette found on this disc. Featuring interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, this making-of featurette gives a good and easily-digestable overview over the production and the challenges it posed to the filmmakers without going into too much detail. "Surviving as a Castaway," "The Island" and "Wilson: The Life and Death of a Hollywood Extra" are three additional featurettes averaging out at 15-minutes each, which offer some more glimpses behind the scenes of the film’s production and cast members. They are entertaining, sometimes humorous and definitely worth checking out. Another entertaining and informative segment on the disc is "Charlie Rose interviews Tom Hanks," the unedited and unabridged version of the interview from the Charlie Rose show.
The disc is rounded out with a number of photo galleries covering everything from regular stills and production photographs to concept art, general illustrations and storyboards. All in all, a very rich mix of still images that manage to convey a lot of the production values of the movie.
Of course a variety of theatrical trailers and TV Spots can be found on the disc as well, making this DVD a very complete package.
The verdict on this DVD is easy. For $29.95 you just can’t beat it! "Cast Away" is a mesmerizing movie, Tom Hanks is a revelation as an actor and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is consistently creating top notch DVDs, so what are you waiting for? Get this DVD already!