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Overall Rating
3.64

Awesome: 22.93%
Worth A Look38.22%
Average: 23.57%
Pretty Bad: 10.83%
Total Crap: 4.46%

11 reviews, 91 user ratings


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Terminal, The
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by Collin Souter

"The best airline or airport comedy since 'Airplane'"
4 stars

I consider myself to be pretty tolerant when it comes to immigrants arriving in our country without being able to fully comprehend the language. Okay, I know it can get pretty frustrating when a person with limited English skills works in a movie theater and I have to explain to them that the screen is off balance, but I try not to immediately get all fired up about it and say things like, ‘Learn the language!’ Instead, I remind myself the English language may be the hardest language of all to learn. Even we have trouble learning it. What does it mean when someone says ‘I could care less’? In Perfect English, it means that the person DOES care, but they could care less. Rarely do I hear someone actually say, ‘I COULDN’T care less.’ Some people really do need to learn the language.

The writers of the new Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks movie “The Terminal” understand this pretty well, yet they never directly address it. The movie tells the story of a contractor named Viktor Navorski (Hanks) from East European Krakozhia, who, because of political upheaval in his country, is left trapped in an airport unable to get back home and legally unable to set foot on American soil. He knows very little English and has arrived in America for “pleasure” (as opposed to “business,” but I’d rather not give away the real reason for his being there). Nobody knows him here. Nobody wants to deal with him, but the airport officials and Viktor are, alas, stuck with each other.

Or, I should say we’re stuck with him. “The Terminal” really tells the story of immigrants who come to our country and have trouble assimilating to our customs, especially if they’re not here legally. What happens to Viktor probably happens to many people who visit here. The official in charge of keeping Viktor in the airport, a frustrated bureaucrat named Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) tries to get rid of Viktor by setting traps for him to leave the airport, thereby forcing the authorities to arrest and detain him so he can be “someone else’s problem.” He also tries many bureaucratic methods, but to no avail. Soon, Victor becomes a permanent staple in the airport, both to Frank and to the many supporting characters who work there.

Yet “The Terminal” is not a fish-out-of-water story. Viktor can figure his way through many situations just by watching other people go about their day-to-day routine and he does his best to learn the English language. Of course, nobody wants to sit through a movie that only takes place in an airport where nothing romantic happens, so of course, Viktor meets Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones), an emotionally confused stewardess who takes great pleasure in reading up on world history, particularly the works of Napoleon. World history soon becomes the common language between Viktor and Amelia and soon more languages come into play as their relationship deepens.

The movie’s storyline deepens as well when many of the supporting characters make their way into Viktor’s life. Within these people’s eyes, Viktor becomes a folk hero, a coward, a means to an end, a messenger and a pawn. To us in the audience, Victor does not differ that much from Hanks’ Forrest Gump or Jim Carrey’s Truman (incidentally, the creator of “The Truman Show,” Andrew Niccol, carries story credit with this film). Every character Viktor comes in contact with has their own little story and soon Viktor becomes a chapter in it.

“The Terminal” contains many moments of high comedy and earned sentiment. Spielberg has never been much of a satirist and much of the storyline lends itself to scathing satire on immigration and homeland security. Instead, “The Terminal” is a sweet film, a crowd-pleaser that does not aim to preach, just to please. It tries a little too hard towards the end in a crowd scene where the sentiment goes a little over-the-top, but for the most part we’re right there with Viktor and we can plainly see the absurdity of his situation through his eyes. Credit, of course, goes to Hanks’ performance as yet another cast away (and just what is it about Hanks’ palm that so fascinates these filmmakers?).

Credit also goes to a smart screenplay written by Sacha Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson for carefully sidestepping the pitfalls of many fish-out-of-water type movies. “The Terminal” will likely stand the test of time simply by not having it of a particular time. Viktor does not learn any contemporary slang or catch phrases that would make him sound like an idiot. For a movie that takes place entirely in an airport where pop culture looms everywhere, that’s quite an accomplishment. The writers also skillfully take their time in revealing the nature of Viktor’s primary mission in America. The only screenplay gap I noticed occurs in a sub-plot involving a janitor’s love for one of the clerks, where the outcome of their story does not have enough set-up to be believable (something must have been cut in the editing room).

As for Spielberg’s resume, this marks the second part of a new chapter in his career, following “Catch Me If You Can.” He seems to really want to put the special effects toys and grandeur epics out of the way and concentrate on character films, comedies with pathos and engaging people we’d all like to meet at the story’s center. Still, as always, these movies remind me that almost 30 years after “Jaws,” and the guy can still please a crowd. He has not lost a single ounce of showmanship and yet he continues to grow, take chances and, yes, even at his age, mature.

Though, as I said before, “The Terminal” does not aim for satire, its great accomplishment is that it gets us thinking about the issues anyway. We try to be welcome to foreigners, but sometimes we grow intolerant of the language barrier. Authorities try to keep people from illegally immigrating, yet many of them are doing a job that needs to get done and one the rest of us in America wouldn’t be caught dead doing. Of course, it goes without saying that if they come to our country with good intentions and spend money here, they’re okay by us. Learning the language helps, but as this movie illustrates, the world consists of many languages through which we can all communicate.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10087&reviewer=233
originally posted: 06/18/04 14:30:37
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User Comments

7/19/14 xikismbqaz USA 4 stars
12/24/13 Michelle O the "romance" didn't fly but Hanks made the rest work 4 stars
6/15/10 fartvenugen as fulfilling as two crackers filled with poop. 2 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* Its descent. Its fun to watch once. After that, your bored out of your rocker 3 stars
1/02/09 Josef Brillisnt. Subtly Funny and great directing and acting 5 stars
7/22/08 the dork knight All this sugary sweetness makes you want to puke 2 stars
6/18/08 PAUL SHORTT A FILM AS DELIGHTFUL AND ENTERTAINING AS IT IS INSIGHTFUL 4 stars
8/14/07 yousef contrived, cliched rubbish - rubbish. not a good film by any stretch. piss poor. 1 stars
8/09/07 EZ $$ worth a buy 4 stars
5/31/07 ES I didn't buy into any of the romance but I liked this movie very much 4 stars
3/27/07 David Pollastrini interesting subject 4 stars
3/27/07 kathy underheart Does Childress fellate Spielberg for free, or does he get paid? 1 stars
3/20/07 Kimberly Kaminsky I LOVE IT.... 5 stars
3/13/07 Cornelius Liked it, always like the light-hearted stuff. Contrived in parts though, but OK overall 4 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Spielberg serves up another Hollywood great. 4 stars
1/15/07 R.W.Welch Fairly amusing but too contrived to carry much punch. 3 stars
1/07/07 Dina Very new plot and setting ..loved the movie's uniqueness 5 stars
11/25/06 Khadija a "NICE" to watch movie.. 3 stars
11/16/06 J.Pet Has to be one of my most HATED films! 1 stars
11/14/06 matt Dull. Contrived. Cliche. Avoid like the plague. 1 stars
8/04/06 EZ Very different plot but great filmmakers pulled it off 4 stars
6/25/06 MP Bartley Slushy guff, but Spielberg makes it work - just. The crisp bag scene is hilarious. 3 stars
5/26/06 William Goss Borderline force-fed fluff. Lightweight, and proud of it, which both helps and hinders it. 3 stars
3/03/06 Tanya cute Tom hanks was very good the story was also good 5 stars
10/24/05 xavier the film really potrayed the stuff what tom hanks has in him,in a word it is simply superb 5 stars
9/09/05 Ric Even with a few major missteps, the film has that hard to resist Spielberg magic. 5 stars
9/02/05 Zack i loved it 4 stars
9/02/05 Tom Burns Tom Hanks gives an unforgettable performance. 5 stars
8/19/05 ES Has a gump feel to it, you can't help but be impressed with how he makes money to eat 4 stars
8/06/05 C. Miller Enjoyed the movie--I could relate to it in a lot of ways. 4 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins A noun turned into a verb. 2 stars
6/07/05 Darcy watchable 4 stars
6/05/05 Charlene Javier Disappointing because of the combo. 3 stars
5/27/05 Quigley spielberg dissapoints as well as hanks. this is a thing unheard of, but it happens. I weep. 3 stars
5/11/05 Simon Very charming. Flawed, but makes you forget your ordinary life- a film's primary objective. 4 stars
4/03/05 Cindy A little slow, but I love Tom Hanks and enjoyed the move. 4 stars
3/24/05 Charlie Who ever calls this movie 'Terminally Boring' sucks. 4 stars
2/22/05 Jenna Furr Tediously contorted + whole subplot w/ Catherine Shitta-Jones belongs on cutting room floor 3 stars
2/22/05 Rosa Zared BB R word word word word 2 stars
1/10/05 KCobain Much more than fluff. Come on; look closer mate. 5 stars
1/02/05 MyGreenBed It's rare when I can't finish a movie, Terminal is appropriately named. 1 stars
12/25/04 Freddy boring and annoying 2 stars
12/19/04 HL Spielberg makes you think you're watching a good movie? 3 stars
12/06/04 fred The movie at best was 'below average' 2 stars
12/05/04 Helge Samuelsen A warm and funny movie, that I really enjoyed. 5 stars
12/02/04 the Grinch Improbable but based on true story of Iranian refugee who lived in Paris airport terminal 4 stars
11/28/04 Emperor's New Clothes Sweet, a little too easy, but oh Tom Hanks, how you rock 4 stars
11/13/04 RAJEN GREAT MOVIE lots of emotion and actors and Indian too. 5 stars
10/24/04 UMER tom is probably the best actor around these days 4 stars
10/02/04 sam s thanks for the grammer lesson you are oh such a talented reviewer! 5 stars
9/21/04 Helen Bradley Tom Hanks brillant, a masterpiece 5 stars
9/16/04 Jenna Furr Tediously contorted + whole subplot w/ Catherine Shitta-Jones belongs on cutting room floor 3 stars
9/16/04 Rosa Zared BB R word word word word 2 stars
9/08/04 valentina WONDERFUL!! 5 stars
7/26/04 Melissa Wonderful to watch...both the movie and Tom Hanks! 5 stars
7/24/04 S.F Improbable circumstances ( i hope) ...yet watchable 4 stars
7/23/04 Ken Graves Great story with great actors. 4 stars
7/22/04 Nobody This movie is funny go see it right now 5 stars
7/21/04 Valerie A different, but very enjoyable film. A nice change of pace from all the other movies... 4 stars
7/19/04 Gene Entertaining and enjoyable--another very enjoyable Tom Hanks movie! 4 stars
7/18/04 Cassandra Farrar it's Hanks and Spielberg - it can't be bad 4 stars
7/18/04 Richard Awesome 4 stars
7/18/04 Onyeabo Monago Lots of movie spam 2 stars
7/17/04 legend Could've been a great film but it got too sappy for me. 4 stars
7/17/04 Chris Terrible movie. I spent the last half laughing at how stupid it was. I want my 2 hours back 1 stars
7/12/04 Mike V Tom Hanks is great but the movie is a little too corny. 3 stars
7/11/04 Carrie I laughed throughout as did others in the theater. Light and funny. Well acted. 5 stars
7/07/04 Sandra Love Funny, warm, emotional, touching! That the Tucci character would actually do this, unbelie 5 stars
7/07/04 Margie no big explosions or crazy CG, but I had a great time, and what more can you ask? 5 stars
7/05/04 Johnny Great film/movie! A fun ride, first class acting! A must see! 5 stars
7/02/04 sonia Why is this movie so uncritical, apolitical!!! 2 stars
7/01/04 The More You Know Gotta love a chick flick that's got a cool, jazzy core. 5 stars
6/30/04 Maz A fun ride, wonderfully acted. Check it out 5 stars
6/29/04 John verr very charming but also very contrived charachters 3 stars
6/27/04 ron Enjoyable. Totally realistic? No, but it's a MOVIE so have some good laughs. 4 stars
6/27/04 Todd Bertuzzi What a great movie, very nice, funny, heartwarming. Allen Roberts doesn't have a clue! 5 stars
6/25/04 jcjs fun, no brainer, lightened up, clever, funny, tender, touching, filled with character, love 5 stars
6/23/04 daniel ehiwario Delightful, heartwarming movie 4 stars
6/23/04 allen roberts Hope I never meet anyone who ranked this movie "awesome". 1 stars
6/23/04 Gray 100% harmless and funny 5 stars
6/22/04 steve amusing and lovable 4 stars
6/22/04 ajay Dude, Kumar from the Wes Anderson movies is in it. F'in Awsome!!! 5 stars
6/22/04 Marc Basque Spielberg's still got it. One of the best movies of the years. 5 stars
6/22/04 dominique cave Delightful, heartwarming movie Thoroughly enjoyable. 4 stars
6/21/04 Gina Golberg Loved it, especially the little tribute to the Jazz musicians. And I was glad ZETA JONES do 5 stars
6/21/04 Schaefling Disappointing ending that betrays the true nature of the lead characters 2 stars
6/21/04 The More You Know Great Father's Day movie featuring Hanks & the greatest jazz photo ever! 5 stars
6/20/04 Desperado Great movie Hanks and Stevie are back again in a great story, acting and storytelling r A+ 5 stars
6/19/04 Bryan Ehg, i've seen Tom Hanks in many other films. This ones just allright. 3 stars
6/19/04 Micheal Jordan Hoop it up! 5 stars
6/17/04 Jawie Not good. No point to the story. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  18-Jun-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 23-Nov-2004

UK
  03-Sep-2004 (12)

Australia
  09-Sep-2004




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