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Tom Hanks’ toughest movie uses way more special effects than you think

Tom Hanks has starred in some epic movies over the years which are special effects heavy, such as Cloud Atlas, but one of his simplest movies used a lot of CGI.

Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and Saving Private Ryan

Tom Hanks has spoken about how one of his favorite Tom Hanks movies is 2000’s Cast Away, and this was largely down to the unique experience of making it – when he had “nothing but adventures every single day.” While it seems as though it’s one of his simpler films – just a man, an island, and a volleyball called Wilson – it actually was surprisingly CGI-heavy.

Director Robert Zemeckis is no stranger to working with complicated special effects. He directed one of the other best Tom Hanks movies – Forrest Gump – which involved inserting Gump into significant moments in history, and also required erasing the bottom half of Gary Sinise’s legs. He also directed the absolutely mind-bogglingly complex masterpiece Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

While they are not to everyone’s taste – he also directed the motion capture hybrid animated movies The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol. Surprisingly, one of his movies that you would expect to be effects-heavy – Back to the Future – only had 30 effects shots. That’s what Zemeckis told the DGA in 2013, anyway.

Regarding Cast Away, Zemeckis said; “Oh, we used a lot [of CGI shots] on Cast Away. Huge. Way more [than Forrest Gump]. It’s like everything was a digital shot. We had whole fleets of ships that we had to remove. We had other entire islands that were in the shots that we had to remove. That was a huge effects show.”

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It just goes to show that you cannot judge movies by their genre, and that sometimes drama movies will have more effects shots than science fiction movies.

If you’re a fan of Back to the Future, check out our guides to the best time travel movies and the best 80s movies.