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.
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.