Every Tom Hanks & Robert Zemeckis Movie Collaboration, Ranked (2024)

Summary

  • Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis have had a long and successful partnership in Hollywood, with several iconic films to their names.
  • Forrest Gump was a box office smash and told the story of an extraordinary person’s life, set against the backdrop of modern American history.
  • The Polar Express featured Hanks playing multiple roles and was a visual marvel that blended motion-capture computer animation with human characters.

For the past 30 years, the filmmaking collaboration of actor Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis has stood as one of modern cinema’s most beloved partnerships. From Forest Gump to their upcoming fifth film together Here, Hanks and Zemeckis have managed to walk the fine line between mainstream popular appeal and enduring artistry that has truly stood the test of time. With plenty of humor and a whole lot of compassion, Hanks and Zemeckis have done some of the best in both of their careers together.

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Hanks and Zemeckis’s collaboration has included incredible highs, such as their extraordinary work on Cast Away, and some lows, like the lackluster responsibility of their version of Pinocchio. However, no matter what the result, this duo has always aimed for quality and, in the process, has delivered some of cinema’s most iconic characters and breathtaking works of fiction. With the upcoming release of the fixed-camera film Here on the horizon, it seems audiences have not seen the end of Hanks and Zemeckis’s acclaimed collaboration, and hopefully, they’ll have plenty more works together in the future.

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4 Pinocchio (2022)

Tom Hanks as Geppetto

Every Tom Hanks & Robert Zemeckis Movie Collaboration, Ranked (1) Pinocchio (2022) Where to Watch

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Pinocchio is a 2022 adaptation directed by Guillermo del Toro, blending stop-motion animation with live-action elements to retell the classic tale by Carlo Collodi. The film features a star-studded voice cast including Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, and Gregory Mann. Set against the backdrop of 1930s Italy, the story explores themes of identity, love, and morality as the wooden puppet Pinocchio embarks on a transformative journey to become a real boy.

Director Robert Zemeckis Release Date September 8, 2022 Cast Tom Hanks , Benjamin Evan Ainsworth , Joseph Gordon-Levitt , Keegan-Michael Key , Lorraine Bracco , Cynthia Erivo , Luke Evans Runtime 105 Minutes

Although any collaboration between Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis would be an exciting prospect, even their sternest defenders must admit they missed the mark with Pinocchio. This live-action adaptation of a classic Italian story lacked the appeal of Disney’s beloved 1940 version and, unfortunately, was released in the same year as Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, a far superior and much more relevant retelling of the same story. While Hanks as Geppetoo may have initially sounded like a good idea, everything about this movie felt unnecessary.

Zemeckis’s version of Pinocchio was unable to justify its existence in the same way that other children’s releases with Hanks, such as The Polar Express, managed to, and although the visuals looked great, the script failed to capture the same magic. Sadly, Pinocchio joined the ranks of the worst of Disney’s recent live-action and photorealistic releases and, along with the updated version of Dumbo and The Lady and the Tramp, was quickly forgotten by audiences. Most of all, it was hard to get excited about Zemeckis’s lackluster Pinocchio, while Del Toro’s version built up far more hype and received much more praise.

While it’s true that Pinocchio was a major disappointment, it must also be admitted that Hanks gave a decent performance as Geppetto, and he, along with the visuals, was one of the film’s strongest aspects. However, there was a lack of chemistry between Geppetto and the puppet who came to life, Pinocchio, as it felt like the film did not take the necessary time to build up their relationship and showcase them spending time together. Instead, Pinocchio relied too heavily on the previous depictions of this story to act as shorthand for their inseparable bond.

While plenty of Disney live-action remakes have received theatrical treatment, Pinocchio was a straight-to-steaming Disney Plus release that hinted, before it even came out, that it would not live up to the original’s legacy. While Pinocchio was not unwatchable by any means, it just did not feel like a movie that needed to be made and represented a low point for Hanks and Zemeckis together. The negative reception for Pinocchio also earned it several Golden Raspberry nominations, including Worst Picture and Worst Actor for Hanks, and it even won the Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off, or Sequel award.

3 The Polar Express (2004)

Tom Hanks in multiple roles

Every Tom Hanks & Robert Zemeckis Movie Collaboration, Ranked (2) The Polar Express GAnimationAdventureFantasyHoliday Where to Watch

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Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express is an animated holiday-fantasy film by director Robert Zemeckis. A young boy is spirited away on Christmas Eve aboard the magical Polar Express, where he meets new friends on a journey to rediscover their belief in Christmas.

Director Robert Zemeckis Release Date November 10, 2004 Studio(s) Castle Rock Entertainment , Shangri-La Entertainment , Playtone , ImageMovers , Golden Mean Distributor(s) Warner Bros. Pictures Writers Robert Zemeckis , William Broyles Jr. Cast Tom Hanks , Daryl Sabara , Nona Gaye , Jimmy Bennett , Eddie Deezen , Peter Scolari , Michael Jeter Runtime 100 Minutes Budget $165 Million Expand

The Polar Express achieved the impossible; it delivered a new Christmas film for the 21st century that can be spoken about with the same kind of love and admiration as It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on the 34th Street. Based on a 1985 children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express was a visual marvel that featured Tom Hanks playing multiple roles as motion-capture computer animation blended with human characters. This technique gave The Polar Express a unique visual style that made it stand out in the cinematic landscape of 2004.

While Zemeckis previously made movies that could appeal to children, like Romancing the Stone and the Back to the Future franchise, The Polar Express felt different and was praised as an instant Christmas classic. By telling the story of a young boy on a mysterious train heading toward Santa Claus and the North Pole, Hanks and Zemeckis captured something profound about the wondrous magic of the holiday season. Even the style of the film itself contributed to its unusual atmosphere because, although the characters appeared slightly creepy at times, this was also part of its unique appeal.

Looking back, the visuals of The Polar Express date it in hindsight, but the love and care with which both Hanks and Zemeckis have presented this story mean that it’s stood the test of time. With a strong festive atmosphere, the film played into Zemeckis’ strengths as a director, and in his voice work, Hanks tapped into the same energetic and iconic mannerisms that made Woody from Toy Story such an enduring animation icon. Hanks utilized his skills in many roles, including the Hero Boy, the train conductor, the Ebenezer Scrooge puppet, and even Santa Claus himself.

At its core, The Polar Express was an enduring Christmas story that has consistently been a holiday favorite and, for many, has become required viewing every December. While much of the criticism the film received related to the uncanny valley feeling of its character’s representation, this merely meant it was a product of its time, and risks like this were needed to push animation forward and test the limits of special effects. The technical achievement of The Polar Express was part of its legacy, and looking back on it today highlighted it as a solid entry in the acclaimed collaborative works of Hanks and Zemeckis.

2 Forrest Gump (1994)

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

Every Tom Hanks & Robert Zemeckis Movie Collaboration, Ranked (3) Forrest Gump PG-13RomanceDrama Where to Watch

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In this iconic piece of American film history, the presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, the events of the Vietnam war, Watergate, and other history unfold through the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75.

Director Robert Zemeckis Release Date July 6, 1994 Studio(s) Paramount Pictures Distributor(s) Paramount Pictures Writers Eric Roth Cast Mykelti Williamson , Gary Sinise , Tom Hanks , Robin Wright , Sally Field Runtime 142 minutes Budget $55 million Expand

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Forrest Gump was a box office smash that appealed to viewers across the board and went on to become the highest-grossing film of 1994. As the first film collaboration between Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis, this unique film retold the history of modern America through the lived experience of an extraordinary person of below-average intelligence. With a vast story that incorporated everything from the birth of rock ‘n’ roll to the consequences of the Vietnam War, part of the appeal of Forrest Gump was how well it blended comedy and drama.

With the famous phrase, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,” Hanks’ portrayal of Forrest was among the most iconic in his entire career. For his work on Forrest Gump, Hanks took home the Academy Award for Best Actor, and the film swept the ceremony with six wins, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. With an earnest performance and plenty of heart, Hanks walked a fine line with his characterization, which, in another actor’s hands, could have come off as over-the-top or even offensive.

Forrest Gump was an ode to 20th-century America that highlighted, in the land of the free, anybody could make a major impact and leave their mark on popular culture. While Forrest Gump could be enjoyed by all viewers, it was also rife with complexity and political symbolism as Forrest interacted with real historical events and came face-to-face with everybody from John F. Kennedy to John Lennon. The film’s unique use of special effects inserted Forrest into archival historical footage, which gave Forrest Gump an effective sense of realism.

As the highest-grossing movie of Zemeckis’s career, Forrest Gump took in an astounding worldwide gross of $678,226,465 (via Collider) and signaled a high point for the acclaimed director in mainstream popular appeal. The legacy of Zemeckis’s work with Hanks on Forrest Gump would feed into every future collaboration, and viewers consistently turned up to see if they could repeat the incredible success of their first outing. In the three decades since its release, Forrest Gump has remained a major film to be enjoyed by every subsequent generation.

1 Cast Away (2000)

Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland

Every Tom Hanks & Robert Zemeckis Movie Collaboration, Ranked (4) Cast Away PG-13AdventureDocumentaryDrama Where to Watch

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Directed by Robert Zemeckis in his second collaboration with Tom Hanks, Cast Away tells the story of FedEx executive Chuck Noland, who strives to survive in a deserted island after a plane crash. The film, which mostly takes place in the uninhabited island, earned Hanks a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Director Robert Zemeckis Release Date December 22, 2000 Studio(s) 20th Century Distributor(s) 20th Century , DreamWorks Distribution Writers William Broyles Jr. Cast Paul Sanchez , Lari White , Leonid Citer , David Allen Brooks , Jelena Papovic , Valentina Ananyina Runtime 143 minutes Budget $90 million Expand

As the story of a lone man stranded on an uninhabited island, it was amazing that Cast Away managed to be thrilling from start to finish. Spearheaded by an incredible performance from Tom Hanks and a truly impressive script by William Broyles Jr., Cast Away represented the very best of Robert Zemeckis’s collaboration with Hanks and perfectly represented what made their partnership work so well by stripping it down to its bare bones. Cast Away felt like a true cinematic experience as audiences were subjected to the grueling challenges, tortuous hardships, and occasional joy of this survival story.

Hanks played Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems analyst who, after surviving a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, was washed ashore and was forced to survive alone on an island. As the years passed, Chuck became beared and disheveled but also grew to know and understand the island’s ways. With nothing but a Wilson volleyball to keep him company, the power of Cast Away was entirely in Hanks’ performance, as he carried the emotional weight of the film on his back and proved that he was one of the greatest actors of the modern era.

Cast Away had several inspirations that fed into its compelling story, as real survival experts were consulted about the realities of those stranded alone and the means through which a man could adapt and survive. The film also took major inspiration from Daniel Defoe’s classic adventure novel Robinson Crusoe, which similarly told the story of a man cast away on a remote tropical desert island. These details played into the realism at the heart of Cast Away’s story, as viewers questioned how they would cope with being put through the same hardships as Chuck.

The success of Cast Away was due to the fantastic way that Hanks and Zemeckis worked together. As this was the first film on which Hanks also acted as producer, he was more involved than ever in the behind-the-scenes side of the production. Following on from Forrest Gump, Hanks and Zemeckis had already established a strong working relationship and were able to take that even further in Cast Away. As a true high point in both of their careers, Cast Away represented the best of Hanks and Zemeckis, so far at least.

Source: Collider

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Category: Entertainment

Every Tom Hanks & Robert Zemeckis Movie Collaboration, Ranked (2024)

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