The main conceit of Lasse Hallström's film is that chocolate is not just the mood-altering sweet that we all know and crave, but also a liberator of the essential life force as well as a powerful aphrodisiac. Though well-filmed and desperate to please, it's flat and predictable — with Juliette Binoche, Alfred Molina and Johnny Depp.
If some of the Beatles’ 1964 feature debut (low-budget, seemingly off-the-cuff and filmed in cheeky black-and-white) now seems quaint, the music still has the ability to charm. Even though as a film it's only good, as a cultural artifact it remains essential viewing.
The key to Cast Away, which is nearly a one-man show, is Tom Hanks alone on a tropical island, improvising survival tactics to keep himself alive even when hope for rescue runs out. It’s hard to imagine another American actor who could pull this off as gracefully.