Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News

Zemeckis' CASTAWAY was test screened tonight... one report thus far! Massive SPOILERS BEWARE

Hey folks, Harry here... This is the film I'm most looking forward to seeing this year. However.... Like THE THIN RED LINE and MAGNOLIA... this film will not work for everyone... Now I don't know for sure... I know what I've read solely in script form... but on that page... the film started very quickly, glazing over his life... you see quickly that he had no time for the details of life... well... it's complicated. I can't wait to see what others say, like I said... I've got the feeling that by the time Zemeckis is done working on this film, you'll see a great many changes that make this film work and resonate deeply... At least that is my hope. We'll see.... As of the first test screening, this is what one audience member thought. Here ya go...

Well, I’ve just gotten back from the test screening of Cast Away. It was held at the Century theater in Sacramento at 7pm. It was a full theater, though surprisingly they were not showing the film on the largest screen at the theater. I have no doubt that they could’ve filled a much larger room based on the excited attitude of many of the people in the audience before the screening. However, by the time the film was over I’m not sure how many of those audience members would’ve recommended the film to their friends.

First, the good. Zemeckis’s direction was solid. There’s a cool shot when Hanks is on the top of the island and the camera is above him and it looks down and pans around. You can see the beach all around and it’s disappearing in the water and then there’s just water as far as the eye can see. You got a great sense of how isolated the island is. Another shot that was cool was when hanks has left the island on a raft he built, and the camera is deep under the water looking up at the raft floating with hanks arm dangling in the water. And the camera sweeps across under the raft and then rises and rises and comes out of the water and continues higher and higher until it’s way up high looking down at hanks, all in one shot. I’m not sure how they accomplished it, definitely had cgi trickery to it, but it was great.

The opening credits sequence with the camera following a package going through the FedEx mail system was cute. From the time of the plane crash to Hanks getting rescued was very well done, exciting even. But….

The bookend scenes before and after the island were lame and poorly done. When we first meet hanks character (Chuck) he’s yelling at russian FedEx employees about mailing packages on time and he’s chewing up the scenery so bad I thought he was gonna choke on it. Also, we don’t get much about what his life is like before being trapped on the island. He has a woman he loves (Helen Hunt) but isn’t married to and a job that makes him travel the world and is demanding of his time. That’s it. Not enough time is spent letting us know much about who he is as a character.

And when he gets rescued we cut from seeing him floating on a raft, all shaggy haired and gnarly after being on the island for 4 years, and then we see him on a plane, all cleaned up and back to normal. That quick of a change. This, after all that happened on the island. Watching him adapt to life on it. The foot injuries because he didn’t have shoes, the leg wound from coral, trying to make fire, trying to open coconuts without losing the liquid inside, his time going mad while talking to a volleyball he calls wilson which has a face painted on it from his own blood. Everything. But then whoosh we see him looking normal in a suit, flying in a plane. It would’ve been nice to see him cleaning up for the first time in 4 years. In discovering the person under that mess of hair. To put on comfortable shoes that fit, a big deal since much was made about his lack of fitting footwear on the island. But no, we just jump directly from one thing to the other.

And when he gets back to the world, what happens? Next to nothing. He learns Hunt married Chris Noth and had a daughter, though she says she still loves him. One of his friends from FedEx says that tomorrow they’ll help him get his life back. And a woman he delivers the one box of FedEx mail that he didn’t open (about 8 washed ashore) to gives him directions at an intersection, telling him where all the roads lead. Then fade out. That’s it.

Next to nothing is really made of his life before the accident, and next to nothing is made after. If he changed a lot as a person we don’t know. How he views life, people, everything, we’re left clueless about. The middle part of the film on the island is very well done, it has a nice buildup, but it’s ultimately a buildup to nothing. It goes nowhere. And it’s really a shame because the island part of the film was exciting to watch and played well with the audience. Also the plane crash was harrowing and in its few minutes it made you fear drowning and dying in a way that the 15+ hour running time of perfect storm did not.

The audience seemed to enjoy the film, but as it got towards the end the response died down. There was some applause when it was over but no where near as much as it would’ve gotten had the 1st and 3rd acts been much better and actually had a point to them. I tried to stay for the Q&A afterwards, but they said they had enough people for it and shooshed the rest of us away. Walking out of the room I did get a chance to see Zemeckis and Katzenberg and their entourage walking in.

Hollywood H

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Oct. 4, 2000, 3:35 a.m. CST

    Where's the spoiler warning on this sumbitch?

    by xavier masterson

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 3:35 a.m. CST

    Yeah but who wins the Million Dollars? Richard? Rudy? Sue? Kelly

    by Bari Umenema

    Good review though. You can bet that million bucks that Zemeckis and his editors will be studying this entire board over the coming days trying to figure out how to improve the thing before the next test screening which will be held...confidential information Long Beach the night of the next presidential debate...So all Long Beachers man your stations, Castaway is coming to a theater near you! Final test screening will be in Fresno or Bakersfield Tuesday before Thanksgiving. (Sorry DreamWorkers but Talkbackers have a right to know where and when these things are going to be held so they can slip in and email Harry results.)

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 3:36 a.m. CST

    By the way...

    by xavier masterson

    me first.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 3:47 a.m. CST

    Spoiler Warning?

    by NUXX

    Xavier, its not like youre surprised that Hanks gets rescued in the end, is it? Its a hollywood movie for fucks sake! NUXX OUT....

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 3:57 a.m. CST

    so now you put up spoiler warnings...

    by xavier masterson

    ...a little to late I already know to much. And of course I figured Hanks would get rescued. But I and I'm sure most people who want to see this film didn't want to know anything about the sea monsters.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 4:03 a.m. CST

    Might be interesting if it wasn't for Tom Hanks...

    by Reg

    I still can't for the life of me see the appeal of Tom Hanks. As a comedy actor he was fine if forgetable, so who's bright idea was it to let him get all "serious" - the man cannot act. He ropes in a string of pouts and frowns, lets his lip quiver - in all honesty his acting makes Roger Moore look like Laurence Olivier. His two Oscars were simply the final nails in the coffin of an establishment that no-one takes seriously any more. As for Castaway, this could have been quite interesting, but personally I'll be avoiding it simply because the Hanks is in it.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 5:10 a.m. CST


    by GEEKBASHER 3.0

    I can care less if Tom Hanks wilts away to nothing but bone and rats gnaw at his skull....The trailer was yawn inducing and although Survivor was a big hit, sorry but I would rather be stranded in another movie auditorium watching something else.... but I am sure this movie will be a smash hit regardless!

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 5:11 a.m. CST


    by Brian DePalma

    It is what we value- not what we have- that makes us rich.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 5:36 a.m. CST

    Tom Hanks makes it work.

    by Moonwalker

    Referring to the guy who kept ragging on Tom long did it take to hone such a ill-concieved opinion. There are very few actors that can boast the body of work that Tom Hanks has put together. Forrest Gump, Philadelphia, Apollo 13, The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan et al have all been great films that have shown his versatlility. True I did't think much of him as a comic actor but he has now ben taking reat roles that are not easy and cliche. You wouldn't see many other big A list names playing roles such as a homrsexual AIDS victim, or a southern nitwit. I'm not sure whether Cast Away is the kind of film I will like but I know that I can count on a very good Tom Hanks performance.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 5:40 a.m. CST

    Band Of Brothers

    by Moonwalker

    And just to add to the above I was an extra in "Band of Brothers" which will air in the US soon (god knows when the Brits will get it) and he directed the episode and the man knows his directing shit.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 6:07 a.m. CST


    by Piestar

    "oooh you gotta have faith, faith" ... that's right faith in Zemeckis to do what he does best, distort a mediocre concept into something of beauty. It's not all about Hanks kids.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 6:30 a.m. CST


    by Lazarus Long

    Gee, I could have told you this would be weaker than expected. Unfortunately, Zemeckis hasn't learned that directing isn't about finding weird places to put the camera. Is this such a "film to see" because of Hanks & the plot, or Zemeckis? Because the idea of a new Zemeckis film doesn't seem to be pumping anyone's nads anymore. This guy hasn't made a great film since, umm...Back to the Future 2? Hopefully Hanks' hammy acting in the beginning combined with his island man-unravelling stuff (perhaps we'll be treated to cheese resembling his Philadelphia oscar acceptance speech, "Oh the angels....") will fail to result in more undeserved nomination, or god forbid, awards. This film won't be on the top ten list of anyone credible, unless Harry finds it hard admitting the truth. I hate to tell you guys, but a good screenplay is just a screenplay. It's a blueprint, not a finished product. And in the hands of a washed-up self-important hack like Zemeckis, it probably won't be half as good.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 6:44 a.m. CST

    Re: Lost

    by xavier masterson

    Nope. There were no spoiler warnings when I first read this article. They were put up after I asked why there weren't any. So now I can sleep more peacefully knowing that I helped change something for the better. Thanks to my thoughtfulness and concern no one else will read this review without knowing that there are spoilers contained within. And I didn't have to be marooned on a deserted island to have the forethought of others well being kindled in my soul. I can only hope that whoever becomes the next president elect, wether it be Gore or Bush, will show the same amount of understanding for their fellow film lovers and include a spoiler warning when they review a movie for this site

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 8:18 a.m. CST

    Face facts people

    by FieldmanNo.1

    Messrs. Hanks & Zemeckis specialise in bland pseudo-worthy movies that appeal to the lowest common denominator. Forrest Gump was offensive in the way it could have and always looked like it was going to take risks but backed down into maudlin sentimentality at every turn. No spine and no courage in anything either have done in 10 years. All that power and all that money and not a single iota of risk-taking in either of their recent careers. Rest assured this print WILL change purely becuase these guys treat movies like airline commercials and do exactly what the studios tell them. IGNORE Castaway please.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 8:20 a.m. CST

    Brian Speaks

    by Brian DePalma

    Let me tell you kids about Zemeckis. He is not one of us and he never will be. He never even grew a fucking beard. He's just Stevo's little bit of meat. (shit, hope Spielberg dosen't read this.). When we were the beards we ruled the world, now we've been diluted by assholes like Bob Zemeckis. (hope Zemeckis reads this). Everybody knows that me and Marty were the best. (God even Marty has got rid of his beard. Am I the only decent one left.) P.S. FEMME FATALE will be the greatest film EVER!!(even better than THE FURY)

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 8:20 a.m. CST

    Brian Speaks

    by Brian DePalma

    Let me tell you kids about Zemeckis. He is not one of us and he never will be. He never even grew a fucking beard. He's just Stevo's little bit of meat. (shit, hope Spielberg dosen't read this.). When we were the beards we ruled the world, now we've been diluted by assholes like Bob Zemeckis. (hope Zemeckis reads this). Everybody knows that me and Marty were the best. (God even Marty has got rid of his beard. Am I the only decent one left.) P.S. FEMME FATALE will be the greatest film EVER!!(even better than THE FURY)

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 8:32 a.m. CST

    I double posted on purpose.

    by Brian DePalma

    Its not like I don't know what I'm doing. (fuck!!!!!!!!)

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 9:49 a.m. CST

    one of the masses

    by lobolyman

    All of you idiots who don't like hollywood movies can go hang out at sundance and watch all the art films. We of the masses are sick of your rantings and ravings.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 9:58 a.m. CST


    by mrbeaks

    I like Zemeckis, but this movie has yet to interest me. I still can't believe he wasted so much time on WHAT LIES BENEATH. Tricked-up, cgi-enhanced editing, and big name stars are never enough to counteract a lousy script.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 10:06 a.m. CST

    What, go to sundance and watch movies about gay cowboys eating p

    by voight-kampff

    No thanks.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 11:20 a.m. CST

    Cast away

    by Darth Grego

    Thank God this mess is done filming so Hanks can shave that mess of shit off his face and stop scaring the children every time he's on an award show.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 11:23 a.m. CST


    by Brian DePalma

    There is fuck all wrong with a good beard.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 12:27 p.m. CST

    Tom Hanks........

    by Superman un gran actor. Translation for gringos: Tom Hanks is a great actor.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 12:30 p.m. CST

    Freaks animation

    by LSHB

    is glorious, Harry. You've brought a wee tear to my eye.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 12:41 p.m. CST

    Wow. Brilliant.

    by superninja

    Sounds like a snooze-fest to me. Zemeckis just doesn't have the balls for a film like this -- he's a poor man's Speilberg. The concept is interesting, and I think Hanks could really do an excellent job playing a guy that looses his mind and desperately clings to life in total isolation, but when you have a director that has NEVER been known to challenge an actor, well...who cares?

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 1:51 p.m. CST

    Any Hot Island Chicks?

    by BriscoCountyJr

    You know, with coconut-shell bikinis. loose, pagan morals. That kind of thing. If not, why bother? I mean two hours of tom hanks screwing around on an island? There needs to be pirates. Oh, and some burried treasure. And las nut not least...MONKEYS!!! Movies go better with monkeys.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 3:01 p.m. CST

    I would like to categorically state . . .

    by ol' painless

    There were no monkeys harmed during the filming of this film. Unless you count monkeys in coconut bikinis. Brian De Palma might, but I WOULDN'T.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 4:25 p.m. CST


    by MarioS


  • Oct. 4, 2000, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Newsflash: Zemeckis is a talentless hack

    by Commander Cain

    Everything this pale Spielberg imitation has ever spewed out has been a steamy pile of shit. Forest Gump was lame (any fucking idiot who can read the little legend they throw into a box of chocolates knows EXACTLY "what you gonna git"), the Back to the Future trilogy was silly and unconvincing, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit was, from a technical side, spectacular, but, from a creative side, an uninspired, sloppy, toilet bowl full of Hollywood puke. I'd say he should stick to directing fucking cartoons, but that would be an insult to Chuck Jones et al.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 6:03 p.m. CST

    Maybe its just me but....

    by Walter_Sobchak

    I won't know for sure until I get to see the film, but maybe Zemeckis didn't want to show Hanks "discovering the person under that mess of hair." That's been done before. Maybe Zemeckis is saying that this guy is forever changed by his experience regardless of what he looks like. He can't just snap back to the guy he was before. I really can't wait to see this film. I think Zemeckis handled Contact wonderfully and really retained something form the book. I sure hope Hollywood H just didn't pick something up here, because it would be a shame if the move doesn't deliver.

  • You MORONS. The one singular point of this website and those like it is TO GIVE OUT SPOILERS. Are you just naturally STUPID or do you have to TRY to be this stupid? Or maybe you just like to bitch about pointless shit? (Kinda like this post, but I digress.) How the hell do you idiots and your "I can't believe you gave spoilers" bitching ever learned how to turn on the computer in the first place? If you just want to see the trailer, watch E's Coming Attractions, or ET or Access Hollywood. Jesus Christ, sometimes the stupidity of you people gives me ulcers. Fortunately, they're just virtual ulcers.

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 10:15 p.m. CST

    DND'll kick this movies ass!

    by bludog18

    Cmon. Tom Hanks talking to a fuc ing volleyball. Im waiting for Dungeons and Dragons. It is KICK ASS!!!!!!

  • Oct. 4, 2000, 11:30 p.m. CST


    by JMPrater

    This review was so interesting, it was not edited for content nor was it tweaked for proffesionalism. I love Harry but he seems to post any and everything. The damage that this poorly written review will do I cannot say but what I can say is that by posting it he taints a potential audience unjustly. And that's the catch 22 of it. It's called ETHICS Harry and by posting a juvenile and rather crudely written fan review of this film you partake in what many filmmakers blame you for and that is unjustly letting bad word of mouth go for a film that may or may not be finished. I loved Ain't it Cool News a couple of years ago when the Episode I news was at it's peak but I find myself coming back less and less and when I do and find biased and unprofessional reviews like this I wonder what Harry's mission for the site has become and if he has any ethics at all. Whats "THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY"

  • Oct. 5, 2000, 12:25 a.m. CST

    um, JMPrater.....

    by BacheBalls

    this is not a professional site. it's fan based, with fan reviews, with harry being the biggest fan here. all the reviews here are sloppily written. from harry's masturbatory reviews about what ever so un-exciting things happened in his day before watching a movie, to moriarty's endless ramblings and never getting to the point, to this haphazard castaway review, to even the talkback comments like mine with run-on sentences. but so what? what you see at this site isn't professional, it's all sloppy and rambling and unfocused and masturbatory and everything, but the intent is right. it's movie fans talking about something they love, movies. the opinions presented here, however poorly written, are still valid. and if harry was to stop posting all these unprofessional fan reviews then the purpose of the site would be destroyed. he might as well then have dreamworks buy him out and them planting fake reviews. this way people like you could be happy because you won't see the english language get murdered. and you won't see unprofessional reviews such as this one. and you won't have to suffer their so called bias. though how you view this review as biased i'd like to know.

  • Oct. 5, 2000, 1:25 a.m. CST

    Zemeckis is totally talented but is going through a mid-life awa

    by Bari Umenema

    Nevertheless this Talkback is a damn good one, looks like people are at least more enthused about this than they were about What Sucks Beneath...

  • Oct. 5, 2000, 4:06 a.m. CST


    by Quetzalcoatl

    Hollywood blockbusters rule. They're not like those stupid independent movies. I hate them. Hollywood movies are better because they don't have gay people in them. Also, I can understand them better because they tell me what I'm supposed to think, and everything is wrapped up all nice and neat. I don't like those movies where the score doesn't tell you when you're supposed to feel sad, or scared. Those confuse me because I have to figure it out, and I don't like to pay attention that much. I think Castaway will be great because its by the second best director ever. (You know who is the best. Spielberg! He makes the kind I like where they tell me what to think like I was talking about! He is the best!) Tom Hanks is great also because he makes movies that are important. The Green Mile was great and so was Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump was great because even though he was stupid he made lots of money. In those independent "art" movies people get hurt sometimes, and then the movie doesn't explain why. In good movies everything works out for the good guys. PS...Spielberg rules!

  • Oct. 5, 2000, 11:32 a.m. CST

    How could you put this on your site!

    by Mr. Stevens

    Harry I saw the spoiler warning on the front page, but this review tell us the entire conclusion of the film. I don't think I have ever read an article on your site that has told us the ending of the film. I mean how could you post this article. The great thing about Hanks and Zemickis films are that you never know how there going to end. I guess I should send my $9.00 to your site instead of the theaters.

  • Oct. 5, 2000, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Whenever Reviews With Spoilers Are Posted.....

    by mrbeaks

    ..... freexter's rant should lead off the talkback. I've thought it many times, but never said it. Well done.

  • Oct. 5, 2000, 2:11 p.m. CST

    Kevin Reynolds

    by FitzGeraldo

    Would probably have been a better choice to direct this film. Although it was almost laughably written, his spare visual style would help communicate the isolation of Hanks' character.

  • Oct. 5, 2000, 4:21 p.m. CST

    spoilers and professionalism

    by hatchling

    I think we should all take the comments about this being a movie fan run site to heart. With all the corporate takovers and influences, it's hard to find authentic original thought on any movie site, in any magazine or on any TV show. It's almost all corporate hype or promotions. OK, some reviews posted here aren't of a high intellectual quality, but damn it, many are thoughtful and honest. Where else do you find this? Since we're not here to just see trailers trying to draw us into the latest piece of industry crap, I for one am willing to see a few spoilers, misspells and rants. I'm also glad AICN covers hollywood and independents. We're not all cut from the same mold now are we?

  • Oct. 6, 2000, 1:46 a.m. CST


    by cds

    Does anyone actually think that Tom Hanks gets eaten by a shark and doesn't come home? Does anyone care?

  • Oct. 10, 2000, 10:38 a.m. CST


    by Piestar

    People post here unfortunatley too many of them are sarcastic, arrogant and condesending to others. Why must there be all this vindication of others who are cut from a different block?