(In theaters, December 2000) The middle section of this film is nearly an actor’s dream: to be featured alone, without co-stars, for nearly an hour. It’s a testament to the talents of Tom Hanks that Cast Away is able to do so without boring the audience. It is the film’s biggest asset, but unfortunately almost its only one. The beginning of the film is snappy enough (pausing only to establish the required scenes of romantic interest), followed by a pretty good airplane crash: as always, Robert Zemeckis is a competent technician and knows how to film complex setups like these. The island sequence is far more interesting than expected, even though it’s regrettable that the evolution of the character is simply glossed over by a title card. The third act of the film is by far the most unsatisfying, with a rushed conclusion that can’t avoid its built-in limitations and doesn’t go much further than the obvious. Audiences with room-temperature IQ will have recognized the film’s final shot from the tell-all trailer anyway. Cast Away remains a good enough film and a splendid actor showcase, but it never really exploits its theme to the fullest.