Chuck Noland is a man who lives by the clock. Working for Federal Express he accounts for every second of his life and lives for efficiency. His Xmas 1995 dinner is interrupted when work calls him away to supervise a flight to Malaysia. He promises his girlfriend Kelly that he'll be right back. He doesn't realize he's making a promise he can't keep.
While passing over the Pacific his plane enters a storm and ditches into the ocean, very violently. Chuck is the only survivor of the flight and manages to escape into the water with a life raft, but loses the radio transmitter in the process. When morning breaks he discovers that he has washed-up on an uninhabited island. Rescue does not come, and Chuck must figure out how to survive while torturing himself with memories of Kelly.
In an annoying cop-out, the film then jumps to Four Years Later where Chuck has reverted to a cave-man appearance. He's not a happy man, but his outlook changes when a steel section of a port-a-john washes up on the beach. Using a analemma he has etched onto a cave wall, Chuck is STILL keeping track of time and plans an escape from the island using the sheet of steel as a sail for his rickety raft to freedom.
Cast Away (not Castaway) has lovely sound design and photography (why Zemeckis chose to shoot it in 1.85:1 is rather odd though, as many shots seem uncomfortably tight), and really immerses you in the threatening silence of the island. It actually reminds me a lot of the video game Myst in that respect. But the film is book-ended by boredom. The only part I ever really watch is the middle section on the island. Skipping over Chuck's 4-year transformation from mailman to caveman was bad enough, but once he eventually makes his escape from the island the movie skips over the 4-weeks of his reintroduction to society, which is yet another cop-out.
Zemeckis attempts far too much ambiguity with Cast Away. It's usually a sign of a writer/director attempting to cover-up failings with mystery, but Cast Away is a better script than that and it comes across as just being pretentious. The middle section of the film is intriguing. The non-island scenes haven't got a leg to stand on.
The Blu Ray comes to the UK market courtesy of Dreamworks. Formally a Universal release on DVD in the UK, Cast Away was released by Fox in the American market on DVD in 2001 and BD way back in 2007. The UK release features a different transfer, framed at 1.78:1, in 1080p with DTS HD-MA sound. All of the extras featured on the US release have been thrown out, giving this $430 million film a cheap home video presentation. The US release is region-locked, so UK fans of the film are stuck with this. Don't pay more than a budget price.