Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Cast Away Review

It’s time to look at a survival film. These are fairly hard to do. There are the easy ones where it’s a group of people stuck on an island inhabited by giant monsters or an enemy clan. Those can work because you’ve got a lot of dynamics at play. Then you’ve got a survival film like this one which is tricky because there is only one character on the island. As a result you run the risk of the film just being boring and unfortunately…that’s exactly what happens here. There is some spoilers for the ending of the movie below so you have been warned.

The film starts off pretty strong as we meet Chuck and see that he is a pretty fierce FedEx mail guy. He is pretty obsessed with his company being able to meet deadlines and wants them to achieve more. His advice seems to be working and so Chuck gets ready to make one last delivery/meeting before going back home for New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately the plane he is on crashes and now he is stuck on an island. He’ll have to try and survive for a long while as there is no way to get off this island and people may not find him for a long while. Can Chuck pull this off?

The film has a good beginning and an interesting ending. The problem here is the middle. As soon as the plane went down the movie basically went right along with it. There’s just not much to see or enjoy about Chuck’s isolated vacation on the island. There’s no one for him to talk to and not a whole lot for him to do either. As this is the bulk of the movie you can see how it gets old fast. It’s basically all of the usual survival tropes. He tries to make a fire, tries to make a boat, etc. Each attempt injures him further which makes all of his activities a lot harder than they would be otherwise. His attempts are pretty good for the most part and he’s definitely a creative guy so he is able to make things work out. You can respect that from his character, but again it doesn’t make for interesting viewing.

I’ll give the movie credit for not being nearly as gross as a recent film where a girl is stranded on a rock with a shark nearby, but it still does do some iffy things like having a crab get stabbed and eating raw fish. These scenes did the film no favor. It takes what could have been an easy 7/10 film and drops it a few stars until it’s under the baseline. If you want to do a survival film, you’ve got to have at least 2 characters. Yeah, you run the risk of adding romance to the movie but at least you can have some dialogue and maybe even throw some humor into the mix. With just one person there is no chance of that and it’s pretty much a waste for Tom Hanks since dialogue is his strong suit.

As I mentioned, the beginning of the film is pretty solid. It establishes Chuck as a pretty likable character. It’s a charismatic opening and the film has a lot of fun with the scenes. The writing is solid and a whole film could have been made about Chuck making the delivery times faster. Then once he gets off the island it’s like the film finally restarts. Of course now it isn’t quite as fun since everyone moved on without Chuck. His fiancee is gone and it’s like he has to start life over from scratch. At least he kept his job, losing that would have probably made the ending a little too grim. It speaks well to the company as FedEx just looks really good here. They even throw him a nice party and while part of that is for the PR, the guys in the office just seem like a lot of fun.

The movie does drop the ball with the climax though. As mentioned, the fiancee is with some other guy now and at first the movie is pretty tame here as Chuck accepts this and calmly tells her goodbye and wishes her well. Then she runs out of the house and cheats on her current husband one last (presumably) time. I think that scene didn’t need to be in the movie. She made her choice and now she needs to live with it. She makes it pretty clear that the new guy is just a rebound, but that doesn’t make the situation any better. Also, the fact that the other guy used to know Chuck just makes it worse. The fiancee moved on pretty quick after all since she already has a kid and it’s only been 4 years so that means she probably waited 2 years max. That’s a fairly quick rebound.

At least now Chuck will be able to focus on his job again. He’s definitely a solid employee as he gets right back into the field. The ending shows that he now has a passion for the work again and I expect he’ll be making a lot of deliveries. He also gets to meet the person who indirectly saved his life through the colorful package that he found on the island. I think that person could make for a good friend although I imagine that Chuck won’t be making a rebound anytime soon.

Overall, Cast Away is a film where the actual premise is really what held it back a bit. The characters are fun and all, but it feels like the film hits the pause button early on as we’re stuck on the island for an extremely long amount of time. Cutting part of that time out would have helped the film quite a lot. Being stuck on an island like that just limits the film’s opportunities. If you like films about experiencing nature and such then check this one out. If you’re hoping for a lot of fun dialogue and situations then you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Overall 4/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

And Then There Were None Review

It’s time to look at a really retro film. This title came out almost 10 years before the original Godzilla, which shows that it has certainly seen a long film history. You’ll be reminded of Clue almost instantly as the film begins. Little did I realize that this one would even beat Clue (Granted that it’s been a while since I saw that film) and this could be one of the best mystery thrillers that I’ve ever seen! It certainly surpassed my expectations.

The film opens with quite a few different characters entering a mysterious house. They have all been called here under various pretenses, but then they start to figure out that something is a wrong. A voice emanates from the shadows and accuses them all of various crimes involving murder. They were never brought to justice for their past deeds so the host has decided that it is his job to prosecute the characters. Can the 10 criminals trust each other long enough to come up with a plan or are they simply going to die until the title of the film rings true!?

The premise is a good one although it can be difficult to execute it properly. If this film had come out 50 years later, I’m sure that the director would have made this more of a modern slasher film where everyone dies in the diciest ways possible. Luckily, this was the 40’s. Back when everyone had constraint and the film is actually very tame considering the fact that the body count is quite high. All of the violence is off screen and their fates were all rather simple and direct. The film knew that the best way to go about this was to be direct and to the point. It worked like a charm!

As I always say, one of the best things about mystery films is trying to figure out who the culprit is. Likewise, the best thing in a slasher film is trying to figure out who’s going to live if you think that anyone will survive the experience. Needless to say, I tried to do both here. I was right about the character who lived through this, but I was wrong about who the culprit was. Ah well, 1/2 isn’t all that bad when you think about it. No worries, there are no cop outs here although one scene will have you questioning it quite a bit. I find it a little hard to believe personally. The crossed out section quickly mentions the scene and while I tried to make it spoiler free, you should still skip that paragraph until you watch the film. Since this is a mystery film, such potential spoilers are more important to mention than usual.

The scene in question involves a possible injury. It’s hard to elaborate on that without spoiling the film, but do you think you could tell if someone was shot or not if you had a clear view of the supposed bullet hole? It’s safe to say that you would be able to discern such a thing with ease. It’s actually tougher on the viewer than the character because you could just assume that the special effects were not up to snuff so it is hard to tell if the character is injured or not. It is a valid excuse for a movie watcher, but not for the characters inside of the film. There is no way that they would not be able to tell the difference.

That was just a small critique though. The film probably couldn’t think of a better way to go about this so that was still a mostly acceptable way of handling it. Trust me, it could have been much less believable! The atmosphere is very cloudy and mysterious, which suits the film. It is definitely a title that would be much different if it had been in color. I’m hesitant to say that any film is better in black and white, but it certainly worked for me here. For a mystery, black and white just seems to make sense.

Naturally, the most important factor for this film was going to be the cast of characters. You need a likable bunch or else you’re going to start rooting for the villain. After all, two wrongs don’t make a right, but the heroes have gotten away with murder…haven’t they? the ending does a good job of stopping this actually as the ending addresses everything, which makes the film happier than it might have been otherwise. Let’s just say that the crooks don’t necessarily get away with anything, but things are more complicated than they appear on the surface.

Of course, it’s also the kind of film where you don’t tend to remember any of the names after watching it. You will be able to recall how the characters looked and acted, but the names simply weren’t unique enough to recall. That’s all right though since the characters are the important part. The team is made up of 10 fugitives and then we’ve got the butler and his assistant. I’ll try to quickly give you a rundown of them so you can decide who is shady and who isn’t.

The butler is…the butler. What else can you say about this guy and why you should suspect him? He serves the food and knows the mansion better than the rest of the characters. The assistant doesn’t seem to like any of the other characters and she wants to get away from the mansion as soon as possible. Maybe she has a strong motive eh? We have the main character who seems like a really nice lady who is oblivious to the danger at first. Surely such a nice soul could not be the mastermind…right? An older lady is also present who loves knitting. She loves to voice aloud her agreement with Mr. Owens (The boss behind the shadows) in the fact that the fugitives (Minus herself) need to be punished with death. Maybe she is simply giving them a hint! There’s a crazy guy who loves singing and making the atmosphere morbid. He definitely seems suspect! There’s a judge of sorts who seems to be brilliant. He’s constantly making deductions and he is always able to make an airtight case against whoever is allegedly guilty at the moment. Maybe he’s turning the team against each other? A doctor is also in the house and he likes beer although he doesn’t admit to it. Is he trying to forget his wicked deeds before destroying the rest of the cast? You certainly can’t trust anyone who’s not being honest with the cast. We also can’t forget the guy who is always agreeing with the Judge. He is easily swayed by opinions and he’ll follow whoever seems to have the best idea. Perhaps he is saving his cunning mind for when he will truly need it! Finally, we’ve got the generic American, action hero. This guy’s cool, calm, and collected. He’s also armed with an illegal handgun that he is pretending to not possess. Hmmm….nothing shady about that eh? I believe that I named all of the main characters or at least I hope I did. If I left anyone out, it was just accidental misdirection…..

As I mentioned earlier, the ending is fairly satisfying with a little humor involved as well. For some context, my favorite character was the driver of the ship who was taking the 10 convicts to the private island. He was having fun with his sandwich and he certainly knew the score. Unlike the main characters who were fighting for their lives, the captain was just sleeping at home! He makes it back to the island for the ending and it is safe to say that he handled the situation quite well. The film ends there, but I have no doubt that he will be ready to take the win.

There are two elements to the plot that I did not mention earlier so I should quickly elaborate on them. For starters, the heroes cannot leave the island because the boat only comes on Mondays. Or, the next boat is on Monday. Either way, they have to survive 3 nights if they want to stay alive. Moreover, every character is dying according to a creepy poem that is in the house. The villain wants to stick to the script so that should at least give the heroes a heads up on what’s about to happen to them…if they heed the poem of course!

Overall, The film’s title allows you to quickly get yourself interested in what’s about to happen and the film executes the plot to perfection. There is little room for improvement here as the film really does a good job on all areas. The characters are interesting and the pacing is nice and quick. The ending is solid and the film was a slasher while still staying true to the mystery element. There are few films that I would recommend sooner from the 40’s than this one…if any. I highly recommend checking this film out and if you love a good mystery, it is safe to say that you will greatly enjoy this one!

Overall 8/10